Nvidia talks GPU, motherboard plans


— 9:39 AM on June 6, 2007

COMPUTEX — I got a chance to sit down with Nvidia GPU Product Manager Justin Walker this afternoon to talk about Nvidia's outlook in the graphics processor world. Justin wouldn't reveal any juicy details about Nvidia's next-gen cards, so I asked him how he felt regarding Intel's imminent entry into the GPU arena. Walker replied he was happy about a recent Intel presentation that acknowledged the financial and computational benefits of GPUs. But unsurprisingly, he did seem a little worried. "We'd be fools if we weren't concerned," he told me. However, he pointed out that—presumably unlike Intel—Nvidia still spends most of its R&D budget on GPUs. Nvidia has also been competing with other hardware manufacturers essentially forever, so another competitor may simply be "business as usual." He summed up, "We are going up against an 800-pound gorilla, but we think we have a pretty good fighting chance."

I also asked Walker how he felt about AMD's Fusion GPU-CPU chimera and Intel's plans for a similar product. There, as well, he thinks Nvidia can still compete. GPU release cycles are quicker than those of processors, Walker said, and he reckons Nvidia might be able to pop out a better integrated graphics solution half-way into the product life of a Fusion-like processor. Walker says Nvidia has definitely no plans to jump in the CPU market and offer a similar solution, though.

After my talk with Justin Walker, I sat down with Nvidia Business Platform Product Manager David Ragones to talk about the nForce lineup. Ragones was more willing to discuss upcoming products. Nvidia will have both a next-generation graphics processor and a new enthusiast chipset with HyperTransport 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0 support to complement AMD's Phenom processors in the fourth quarter of this year. Also in the fourth quarter, Nvidia will launch a new Intel platform with PCIe 2.0 support. Ragones told me existing nForce 600-series mobos already support Intel's upcoming 45nm Penryn processors and 1333MHz front-side bus speeds.

As for mainstream motherboards, products with DirectX 10 integrated graphics can be expected in the second half of this year or in early 2008. Nvidia also plans to launch its MCP73 chipset—its first integrated graphics chipset for Intel processors—in the third quarter. The company even had a few MCP73-based boards on display:

The MPC73 is essentially a version of Nvidia's existing MCP68—a.k.a. GeForce 7050—integrated graphics chipset for AMD processors with a memory controller and a front-side bus strapped on.

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