The spotlight may be on Intel with the upcoming Sandy Bridge launch, but Nvidia wants in on the action, too. This morning, the firm announced that a "record" 200 upcoming PCs will ship with both Sandy Bridge CPUs and Nvidia graphics processors next year. Those 200 design wins purportedly include systems by Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba, among others.
Today's announcement includes a bunch of quotes from PC vendors emphasizing the importance of discrete graphics, especially in notebooks. Nvidia even throws in a direct jab at Intel's integrated graphics: "Unlike basic graphics integrated into Sandy Bridge CPUs, GeForce GPUs provide advanced features and increased compatibility for the latest PC games including those based on Microsoft DirectX 11," it says.
I don't recall seeing a similar announcement when the last generation of Intel chips came out, so why is Nvidia so clearly on the offensive this time? Perhaps those early Sandy Bridge benchmarks we saw this summer include a few clues—namely, the apparently excellent performance of the integrated graphics component, which had no problem keeping up with a discrete Radeon HD 5450.
In short, I think Sandy Bridge is about to raise the bar of what's expected in terms of integrated graphics, and that could in turn make discrete solutions—be they from Nvidia or AMD—less appealing. As an example, many of the Optimus-powered notebooks we've seen recently feature Nvidia's very lowest-end graphics processors, and those are exactly the kind Sandy Bridge will be bumping up against. If Nvidia has indeed scored a record number of design wins, though, perhaps PC vendors see things differently.