The changing face of PC hardware

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The changing face of PC hardware

Postby DjchunKfunK » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:36 pm

Currently Intel seem to be the only guys on the block when it comes to processors and nvidia when it comes to graphics cards. AMD/ATI are in a bit of a state right now and it is because of their competition that both Intel and nvidia have had to push their technology forward and bring down prices at the same time.

Personally I think that if AMD don't get their act together pretty quickly and release both a good processor and grpahics card they could find themselves down and out in both departments.

The other area of consideration is Intel are looking to move into the graphics department including producing combined chipsets that would do away with the need for a separate graphics card. If this were to happen what would nvidia do as Intel have become the defacto processor for gaming and with intergrated graphics at a high standard there would be no place for nvidia. Would such a move force nvidia to look at producing their own chip, something they have denied wanting to do?

We could be coming to a state where-by Intel become the only competition in town. If they drive out AMD then there would be no chip with which nvidia could pair their graphics cards and we would be down to one standard with Intel able to provide graphics, physics and processor power all on one chip.

How would this effect us as gamers? Ideally one standard would do away with all the problems we currently have with a fractured market, but would it also result in an increase in prices as there would be no competition and Intel would be free to set their own price, safe in teh knowledge that as PC Gamers we would have no where else to turn. What too would be the incentive to drive technology forward if there is no competition?

Obviously these are just speculations as to the future of PC hardware, but I think there are massive changes ahead with Intel really looking to challenge nvidia in the area of graphics, and AMD/ATI struggling to stay in touch. In five years time it is very possible that we could see Intel chips with intergrated graphics and an nforce processors from nvidia.

What are people's thoughts on the subject?
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Postby Liam » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:59 pm

I think AMD buying ATI buggered things up.

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Postby Nethlyn » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:12 pm

2006/07 was always going to be a shite year for the competition, I haven't ever heard of a business merger producing a profit in its first year, especially not in the computer industry; rather, you take on the smaller company's losses and that causes more to the "parent" which is what happened with AMD/ATi.

Problem being that going from Socket 939 to AM2 there just wasn't much that was special peformance wise, gifting upgraders to Intel's Core 2 since 2005. So the X2 line's life was extended (doing particularly well in laptops more so than PCs) as Phenom's no great shakes in its first generation and triple cores are just budget chips of the future if not much software is being driven hard by duals at the minute. The Athlon Black edition was acceptable if overdue swansong but in a couple of quarters time it'll move to the head of the value queue as 939 finally dies off.

It's in AMD's interest to let the cheapy-cheap chips live longer to carry on earning pin money based on value. At least the follow-up budget socket to AM2 looks like it's backwards compatible both physically and electrically and that gives the poorest budget builders (which I am at the moment) a reason to look at them.

However, both AMD and Intel are planning the stupid (or should I say motherboard-industry-protecting) move of changing Sockets yet again, and unlike Socket AM2+, I still don't know if Socket 940 for new budget chips will remain compatible with 939 on the voltage side. Socket F's packaging will be all-new and force another mobo upgrade. It's just muddying the waters to have given buyers 12-18 months' notice of these changes, as it's made many people in need of a new machine hang on to existing hardware but maybe pick up a hard disk or other lateral rather than speed-based upgrade.

Although the ATi side of the biz took a similar pounding, the quarterly nature of the business gives AMD a better chance. The 3850 and 3870 are showing where ATi's going and again, there are AGP editions to cover both old and new PC owners. At the top end everyone's gone double GPU again except that it looks like it might be worth it this time unlike the Rage Fury MAXX of yesteryear. Nvidia might have got too arrogant in trying to pass off a refresh as an entirely new card (9800-whatever suffix), so if ATi can leapfrog them with the summer Radeons that side will come into profit more quickly than the processors. As ever, the Radeon drivers need to be solid otherwise they'll carry on losing out to Nvidia whose cards just slap in and work. That's without even bringing up whatever Intel is working on.

So whilst ATi has more time than AMD, in this new financial year, they have to come good on both sides of the biz or give up on one side to survive as a company. Anyone who has built a Core PC from whenever LGA 775 began, isn't going to need to change a thing about it or build a new one, for decent 18 months if they built them when Core was new, so that's a lot of upgraders to lose.

That's all about the consumer side though, Opterons might just save AMD's backside but Xeons haven't gone anywhere either.

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Postby Bob Arctor » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:29 pm

Nvidea cards have always been my choice, from Gf2mx 32mb, to Gf4200, to Gf6600GT, just ordered laptop with SLI GT8600Ms. Solid good performing graphics cards, last bloody ages if you chose right, the 4200 and 6600 were great mid range cards as they had enough power to keep on running new games.
And right now Nvidea is coming up trumps in the laptop market, the ATI cards, while good for low range laptops (finally most laptops have graphics card not shitty Intel integrated!) haven't matched the new Nvidea stuff.
However I suppose that's just as I've had a really good experience with Nvidea cards and didn't buy the shit 5900 or anything like that.

Intel and AMD, I've never really bothered chosing a favourite.

I think the processor market is confusing though. I don't really understand the benefits of quadcore versus dual core... I got as far as understanding Hyperthreading, but that didn't benefit games anyhow.

I hope a monopoly doesn't form though, we need competition.
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Postby Me » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:01 pm

The lack of comeptiton is already affecting the GFX market, the weakness of the 38xx series has allowed Nvidia to sit back. Everyone has by naming convention moved onto the next generation whilst keeping previous generation performance. You could have bought a 8800GTX 18 months ago and there's still very little that out performs it by much. This should have been the gen to catch up with crysis but there's still fuck besides big SLi combinations all that can run it full whack. I can't remember a time when the latest gen's 9800pro equivilent couldn't play everything at high settings. Although on the brightside Nvidia have done well to keep price much lower than usual for top end cards.

Hopefully AMD can get their act together soon so we get some advancement.

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Postby Jaffacake_killer » Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:02 pm

To be fair, if you ignore Crysis which is a bit of a freak - are there any other games the current top-end cards have trouble with?

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Postby Jez » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:57 pm

Jaffacake_killer wrote:To be fair, if you ignore Crysis which is a bit of a freak - are there any other games the current top-end cards have trouble with?

even on max settings i shouldnt think so.

crysis is a freak

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Postby Me » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:11 pm

Stalker is quite a killer with dynamic lighting and grass shadows.

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Postby Pew-Pew » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:19 pm

Not even close to Crysis.

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