In the months since we last put AMD/ATi and Nvidia head to head, there have been new releases, important deals and a rebrand. Andrew Wooden goes ringside to catch up with the rival graphic chip giants on the state of the market?

Battle of the graphics giants: Round 2

According to estimates from Jon Peddie Research last month, the GPU market saw year-on-year growth of 22.5 per cent during the last quarter. The only two real players in the discrete graphics chip market have both released new products of late, each hoping to nudge ahead of the other in performance and market share, in both the high-end and mobile sectors.

AMD, under the new ‘The Future is Fusion’ branding, is currently pushing its newly launched HD 4800 series, which it says represents the fastest and most powerful offering on the market. We spoke to John Byrne, vice president of worldwide GPU sales, about the market and its position with rival Nvidia.

The Future is Fusion

What does the HD4800 series offer that was not already out there?
There are a number of features that the series offers. However, the most important thing it offers is the best performance at every price in the performance/ enthusiast market.

Other features include Direct X 10.1 gaming support, the most superior hardware decode acceleration for high definition and Blu-ray movies, the best power envelope at every price point, native display port support, and seamless 7.1 audio over HDMI.

Does it represent the most advanced graphics processor currently available?
The short answer is yes. The ATI Radeon HD 4870X2 isn’t just the most advanced graphics processor currently available on the market, it is also the fastest one.

How will you consolidate that in the future?
In order to consolidate our lead it is essential that we continue to evaluate the marketplace and to deliver innovative products that meet the price performance needs of our customers and partners. Part of this includes ensuring that our products are delivered on time and that availability is not an issue.

Will you be looking to boost marketing/ retailer support following the ‘Future is Fusion’ rebrand?
Yes – this is an important strategic move for us as a company moving forward and so it will be supported by all sides of the business including marketing and retail.

The Big Apple
After making an important deal with Apple to introduce its GeForce 9400M in the new wave of MacBooks, Nvidia is going on the offensive in what is new territory for the firm. Serge Palaric, director OEM business EMEA, discusses the new product and its plans on the market.

Does the GeForce 9400M represent the most advanced mobile graphics processor available at the moment?

The GeForce 9400M is our most advanced mobile processor to date; it shares the same processor architecture but obviously has less cores than the GTX280. Where the GeForce 9400M is particularly special is that is the most advanced GPU with integrated core logic so it truly sits at the heart of your notebook.

Does it represent an advantage over AMD’s current offering?
Yes, the GeForce 9400M is approximately twice as fast as any current DirectX10 integrated graphics solution. Not only that, but Nvidia GPUs are the only place where you will find Graphics Plus – in addition to rendering visuals, Nvidia’s CUDA means the possibilities for acceleration are only limited by developer’s imagination.

The GeForce 9400M can massively increase video encoding on an application like Elemental’s Badaboom. In games it can use Nvidia PhysX to make your experience richer and more realistic, an actual living world. A real-world way of benchmarking this is to use 3DMark Vantage, which shows the GeForce 9400M has up to a 5X advantage over its competitors.

GPU accelerated applications like Adobe CS4 can increase productivity. For example, GPU acceleration means in Photoshop you now have a more fluid and natural way of working. You no longer have to wait to rotate a picture, zooming in is smooth, and panning your image just requires an effortless mouse gesture.

What plans do you have going forward to push this latest offering and how important is its inclusion in the new MacBooks?

We have been and will continue to market this offering to leading notebook manufacturers. The majority of them already plan notebook SKUs around the GeForce 9400M. You will see announcements from them over the coming weeks and months.

Apple’s adoption of the GeForce 9400M throughout their notebook line is an incredible endorsement for the GeForce 9400M and GPUs in general. Apple is among the world’s most respected technology leaders, and the fact that it has put a GPU throughout their notebook line tells the industry that graphics processors are essential for a good visual computing experience. We believe this is the beginning of establishing a new industry standard for notebook graphics.

Choice for customers is important and until now there wasn’t one. The availability of the Nvidia GeForce 9400M now allows customers the choice to have a great GPU in their notebooks and to experience all the wonders of new visual computing applications.

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