Rumors point to Apple moving to ARM processors for future notebooks

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 6, 2011 - 07:11 PM |
Tagged: project denver, nvidia, macbook, Intel, arm, apple

A very interesting story over at AppleInsider has put the rumor out there that Apple may choose to ditch the Intel/x86 architecture all together with some future upcoming notebooks.  Instead, Apple may choose to go the route of the ARM-based processor, likely similar to the A4 that Apple built for the iPhone and iPad.

What is holding back the move right now?  Well for one, the 64-bit versions of these processors aren't available yet and Apple's software infrastructure is definitely dependent on that.  By the end of 2012 or early in 2013 those ARM-based designs should be ready for the market and very little would stop Apple from making the move.  Again, this is if the rumors are correct.

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Another obstacle is performance - even the best ARM CPUs on the market fall woefully behind the performance of Intel's current crop of Sandy Bridge processors or even their Core 2 Duo options.  

In addition to laptops, the report said that Apple would "presumably" be looking to move its desktop Macs to ARM architecture as well. It characterized the transition to Apple-made chips for its line of computers as a "done deal."

"Now you realize why Apple is desperately searching for fab capacity from Samsung, Global Foundries, and TSMC," the report said. "Intel doesn't know about this particular change of heart yet, which is why they are dropping all the hints about wanting Apple as a foundry customer. Once they realize Apple will be fabbing ARM chips at the expense of x86 parts, they may not be so eager to provide them wafers on advanced processes."

Even though Apple is already specing its own processors like the A4 there is the possibility that they could go with another ARM partner for higher performance designs.  NVIDIA's push into the ARM market with Project Denver could be a potential option as they are working very closely with ARM on those design and performance improvements.  Apple might just "borrow" those changes however at NVIDIA's expense and build its own option that would satisify its needs exactly without the dependence on third-parties.  

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Migrating the notebook (and maybe desktop markets) to ARM processors would allow the company to unify their operating system across the classic "computer" designs and the newer computer models like iPads and iPhones.  The idea of all of our computers turning into oversized iPhones doesn't sound appealing to me (nor I imagine, many of you) but with some changes in the interface it could become a workable option for many consumers. 

With even Microsoft planning for an ARM-based version of Windows, it seems that x86 dominance in the processor market is being threatened without a doubt.  

Source: AppleInsider

AMD is still the graphics market leader ... except for that SandyBridge problem

Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2011 - 11:19 AM |
Tagged: peddie, nvidia, market share, Intel, gpu, amd

SemiAccurate got hold of Jon Peddie's most recent look at the GPU market and how it is divvied up between the major competitors; which doesn't include SIS who hit 0% this year.  The two current discreet GPU makers swapped positions last quarter with AMD in the lead  and that remains true this quarter as they have grown to 24.8% while NVIDIA fell to 20%.  Last year at this time NVIDIA had a comfortable 8% more of the market than AMD, but with a Fermi launch that just didn't go as well as hoped and AMD coming out strong and generally less expensive, that lead has evaporated thanks not only to the discreet GPUs but also Brazos.

Speaking of APUs, the more mathematically inclined readers may notice that a large chunk of the graphics market is missing in those figures.  54.4% of that missing market belongs to Intel who have seen their share of the market jump by alnost 10% since Q1 2010.  The vast majority of their market share belongs to the embedded GPU present in many Intel systems but at least some of that growth is thanks to the new SandyBridge platform which many enthusiasts are purchasing and which counts towards market share even if it is only being used for transcoding in a system with a discreet GPU.

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"The latest GPU marketshare numbers from Jon Peddie are out, and it looks like we have a new leader in GPUs, AMD. According to the numbers released today, Q1 saw AMD overtake Nvidia in year over year GPU marketshare, and the turn-around promised last February fizzle."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Graphics shipments rise 10% despite falling PC sales; NVIDIA share drops

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | May 3, 2011 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: jpr, nvidia, gpus, amd, Intel

In a mixed report coming from Jon Peddie Research, information about the current state of the GPU world is coming into focus. Despite seeing only 83 million PCs shipping in Q1 2011 (a 5.4% drop compared to Q4 2010), the shipment of GPUs rose by 10.3%. While this no doubt means that just as many in the industry have been predicting, the GPU is becoming more important to the processing and computing worlds, there are several factors that should be considered before taking this news as win for the market as whole.

First, these results include the GPUs found in Intel and AMD’s CPU/GPU combo processors like the Sandy Bridge platforms, AMD’s Fusion APU and the more recent Intel Atom cores as well. If a notebook or desktop system then ships with a discrete solution from AMD or NVIDIA in addition to one of those processors, then the report indicates that two GPUs have shipped. We can assume then that because ALL Sandy Bridge processors include a GPU on them that much of this rise is due to the above consideration. 

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JPR does warn that there is a concern that this 10.3% rise in GPU shipments (not sales, necessarily) could result in a significant stock overage going in to the second quarter of the year and might stifle shipment numbers for Q2 and Q3 2011. If both AMD and NVIDIA have been stock piling graphics cards on store shelves (you know, due to these continuous low-to-mid-range GPU wars) then this seems like a likely scenario as we go into the mid-year cycle.
 
Looking at individual market share numbers both Intel and AMD gained at the expense of NVIDIA, the lone notable company in this fight without a CPU/GPU platform to fall back on. 
 
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AMD and Intel both saw slight improvements in their market share from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011 (0.6% and 1.9% respectively) while NVIDIA’s dropped by 2.5%. However it is the year-to-year growth that should really scare the executives at NVIDIA; the company has dropped from 28% to 20% of the total GPU shipments while AMD grew 3.3% and Intel improved by 4.8%. 
 
As mentioned above, these numbers look worse than they probably are for NVIDIA. The drop from 28% to 20% is based on unit sales of the total GPUs that JPR counts. Because of drastic increase in CPU/GPU combination parts on the market that number that NVIDIA is now a portion of has increased pretty quickly. What would be more accurate to report NVIDIA’s current state is to see how their discrete sales have compared to AMD’s discrete shipments. Is NVIDIA’s market share in danger because of these changes? Yes. But is it as dire as these JPR results seem to indicate? I don’t believe so. 
 
These types of reports are interesting for us to look at and discuss but sometimes the obtuse nature of the statistics and the lack of detail to break down the results really can change the picture pretty dramatically. More data points are always better but the knowledge to parse them is even more…better.
Source: JPR

Podcast #152 - ASRock Fatal1ty P67 Motherboard, EVGA GTX460 2Win, NVIDIA Synergy and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2011 - 12:22 PM |
Tagged: synergy, sony vaio, podcast, nvidia, gtx 460, asus, asrock, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #152 - 4/28/2011

This week we talk about the ASRock Fatal1ty P67 Motherboard, EVGA GTX460 2Win, NVIDIA Synergy, AMD quarterly earnings, Viewer questions and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:09:40

Program Schedule:

Source:

AMD 990FX, 990X and 970 chipsets to get NVIDIA SLI Support

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Chipsets | April 28, 2011 - 09:45 AM |
Tagged: sli, nvidia, amd, 990x, 990fx, 970

In a move that is long overdue, NVIDIA's Tom Peteresen announced on a blog post that SLI multi-GPU support was finally going to be offered on AMD platforms with the upcoming launch of the AMD 990FX, 990X and 970 chipsets.  On previous AMD platforms users have not been able to use multiple NVIDIA graphics cards in SLI because NVIDIA simply did not allow licensing of the technology on them.  As of this month, that policy is changing.

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According to the post, NVIDIA has had a change of heart and wants to "make sure gamers can benefit from the new CPU competitive landscape and ensure they have NVIDIA SLI – the highest performance, most stable multi-GPU solution - to game on!"  The lack of SLI on previous chipsets was the result of Intel being the dominate CPU platform of choice for gamers in recent years. 

ASUS, Gigabyte, ASRock, and MSI are going to be the first out of the block with motherboard based on the AMD 990FX, 990X and 970 chipsets with SLI support according to NVIDIA's Petersen. 

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This doesn't change NVIDIA's stance on the whole licensing and charging motherboard vendors to integrate SLI thing, however.  In an ideal world, NVIDIA would have announced that they were opening up SLI to work on ANY motherboard, future or present, that has enough PCI Express slots on them, just like we see today with AMD's own CrossFire technology.  Despite pressure to do that, NVIDIA is standing by its current formula and expanding into the realm of AMD chipsets.  

Regardless, today is a good day for AMD fans and gamers alike that want more choice and more variety in their system build options for the future.  The AMD Llano and Bulldozer-based processors just got a little more gaming friendly.

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: EVGA
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 460, gpu, evga, 2win

A Card Unlike Any Other

Introduction

In all honesty, there aren't many graphics cards that really get our attention these days.  There are GPUs that do that - releases like the Radeon HD 6990 and the GeForce GTX 590 get our juices flowing to see what new performance and features they can offer.  But in terms of individual vendor-specific designs, there are very few that make us "perk up" much more than just seeing another reference card come across the test bed.  

The ASUS ARES dual-5870 card was probably the last one do to that - and for $1200 is better have!  EVGA is ready with another card though that definitely made us interested, and for a much more reasonable price of $419 or so.

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The EVGA GeForce GTX 460 2WIN is a custom built card that combines a pair of GTX 460 1GB GPUs on a single PCB to create a new level of performance and pricing that we found was unmatched in the market today.  And even better, the features improved as well by utilizing the power of both GPUs in an SLI configuration.  

Read on and see why the GTX 460 2WIN might be my new favorite graphics card!

NVIDIA Synergy will offer discrete and integrated GPU support on Sandy Bridge

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | April 26, 2011 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: virtu, synergy, optimus, nvidia, lucid, gpu

Remember when we previewed a piece of software from Lucid called Virtu that promised the capability to combine processor graphics features of the Intel Sandy Bridge lineup with the performance and DX11 support of discrete graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD?  The ideas was pretty simple but it addressed one of our major complaints about the initial Sandy Bridge processor launch: the IGP features like fast video transcode acceleration and ultra-low-power video acceleration were unavailable to users that chose to also use a discrete graphics solution.

Lucid's Virtu software running in our previous testing

Lucid's solution was to "virtualize" the GPUs and use a software layer that would decide which applications to run on the discrete GPU and which to run on the integrated processor graphics on the Intel CPU.  There were some limitations including the need to have the displays connected to the IGP outputs rather than the discrete card and that the software worked on a rather clunky white-list implementation.  Also, discrete graphics control panels were a bit of a headache and only worked with NVIDIA cards and not in all cases even then.  

Virtu was to be distributed through motherboard vendors starting with the release of the Z68 chipset (as it was the first mainstream chipset to support overclocking AND display outputs) but now it appears that NVIDIA itself is diving into the same realm with a new piece of software called "Synergy".  

Check out more after the break!

Source: VR-Zone

ASUS' EAH6950 & ENGTX570 DirectCU II, twins with different parents

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 18, 2011 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gpu, asus, amd

ASUS has released two new cards with their DirectCU II custom cooling solution and accompanying overclock.  The are very different as one is a NVIDIA GTX570 and the other an AMD HD6950.  [H]ard|OCP was less than impressed with the out of the box overclock of 10MHz on the GPU and simply reference speeds for the GDDR5, so they overclocked the cards to speeds much higher.

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"ASUS has released two enthusiast friendly overclocking video cards: the EAH6950 DirectCU II and the ENGTX570 DirectCU II. The question is which one is better, and does overclocking these change the victor. We test each out of the box and overclocked in Lost Planet 2, F1 2010, Civilization V, and Battlefield Bad Company 2."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

The parade looks clear so far

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 19, 2008 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: parade, amd, nvidia

AMD screwed up; the HD 4850 went on sale in Europe before it should have, so everyone now knows what it is.  They had no choice but to inflict a sleepless night on hardware reviewers, who had their NDA suddenly yanked out from under them.  nVIDIA decided that they just had to try to piss on AMD's parade by moving up the release of the die shrunken 9800 GTX+.  Guess what nVIDIA?  No one has had time to review it, not even Ryan ... though he did get some information up.

Get the message about knee jerk release date changes yet?

"The AMD Radeon HD 4850 512MB card is a good performing card that is able to match both the GeForce 8800 GT and the 9800 GTX card in our initial preview of just a couple of major gaming titles. NVIDIA has some more tricks up their sleeve though with a little part called the GeForce 9800 GTX+ meant solely to rain on AMD's launch day parade. Whether or not that will pan out has yet to be seen."

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