Monday, June 16, 2008

AMD Faces Nvidia With Dual Chip Plan


Stacey Higginbotham, Monday, June 16, 2008 Comments (0)

Nvidia and AMD today each launched two graphics chips for the PC market — but the two companies are pursuing divergent strategies. Both share a recent focus on high-end graphics, which underlines how important visual computing has become; but the different approaches taken by each firm may cost Nvidia market share if its monolithic high-end chips can't deliver the graphic punch to compete with a multi-GPU strategy embraced by AMD and Intel.

Nvidia launched its GTX 280 and GTX 260 chips, which are larger multi-core processors on a single chip. AMD on the other hand, has taken a bottoms-up approach with smaller, multi-core chips that can be harnessed to a second graphics processing chip on a board to deliver higher-level performance. Lower-end PCs can rely on one AMD processor and those needing more power can turn to two AMD chips or Nvidia's single, high-power chip.

The real question is how the graphics will look on the screen. And, as in most chip releases, the proof will be a while in coming. Nvidia already has HP signed up to use its new chip in a new Voodoo desktop especially for gaming. That makes sense. Nividia's chip will rock the high-end application, while AMD's is designed to provide compelling imagery for cheaper, power-efficient PCs and laptops at a large scale. The real battle will be whether AMD's dual-chip strategy takes business away from Nvidia for specialty graphics computers and high-performance technical computing. If that occurs, Nvidia will have to be on guard: Intel's planning to follow the same dual-chip path with its Larrabee GPUs.