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Graphics Hardware

Graphics-Enabled CPUs To Take Off In 2011 172

angry tapir writes "Half the notebook computers and a growing number of desktops shipped in 2011 will run on graphics-enabled microprocessors as designers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) increase competition for the units that raise multimedia speeds without add-ons. The processors with built-in graphics capabilities will be installed this year on 115 million notebooks, half of total shipments, and 63 million desktop PCs, or 45 percent of the total, according to analysts."
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Graphics-Enabled CPUs To Take Off In 2011

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  • Supercomputing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by louic ( 1841824 ) on Friday March 18, 2011 @06:03AM (#35527592)
    Depending on how exactly these processors will look like, they may be very interesting for speeding up scientific computations. The fastest computer in the world at this moment is already GPU based, and such a CPU/GPU hybrid can possibly be even more efficient by removing the slow communication between CPU and GPU.
    • by nzac ( 1822298 )

      The point of GPU super computer is to have a lot of cores working at a slow speed most GPUs in the hybrids only have a small am amount of cores mine has 80. The point the hybrids is to be able to include low power graphics without the need for extra hardware thus reducing cost.

      GPU clusters or just stand alone GPUs would like to have as many cores as possible compared to the rest of the machine. To achieve this effectively you want to buy a somewhat bear bones system and stick some cost effective high end GP

    • It used to be the case on the 386 that the FPU was a separate chip you could get and plug into the motherboard, much like the GPUs of today. It seems obvious that it would simplify a lot of things to just put the GPU directly on the processor.
    • The biggest problem is memory bandwidth. GPU's are fast because of their high throughput, the problem is CPU's won't ever have enough memory on die to keep up despite the communications. It's a trade off. I remember Mark rein of epic games saying on-die CPU's would kill video cards but they never did, because most people don't understand that performance is about trade offs.

  • Integrated graphics is still integrated graphics. They are still slow, still useless for games (unless you are a self masochist), and still nothing impressive. Effort would be better placed in producing an open system and standards for coding to graphics to hardware directly instead of using flabbly cycle hogging API's. That's why pathetic hardware like the Xbox 360 can do so much with so little. Think of the days of DOS and Commodore 4K graphics demos.
    • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

      Other than a few hard core gamers and graphic artists, discrete graphic cards are a total waste of money for most people.

      • No GPGPU, no accelerated desktop, maybe even problems with higher resolutions. Seems like a problem dressed as a solution to me.
        • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

          Personally I despise GPU accelerated desktops, all I want is a link to an app to click that results after clicking in lauching an app that performs the functions I require. Anyone who needs more should pay a premium for the added eye candy.

          • by Junta ( 36770 )

            Not all GPU accelerated desktop is 'fluff', such as expose/compiz scale/kde present windows (particularly the latter with window title search). When I have many windows open, it's a vastly superior way to find what I need than anything else. It could have been done without craphics acceleration, but it's easiest to get large as possible previews of the results of your search this way.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          GPGPU no, but then most users don't do anything computing intense, CPU or GPU. Integrated chipsets handle simple desktop effects quite fine, your FUD is out of date. Problems with higher resolutions? What is this, the 90s?

          • First of all where would this be FUD? Try connecting a full HD monitor to an integrated Intel GPU and you'll see what I meant.

            Also, this bullshit that users don't do computing intense stuff is, well, bullshit. Full HD video, 3D movies, photo processing are computationally intensive even if they are not particularly serious usage of computing power. Don't confuse "important work" with "computationally intensive work".
            • Comment removed based on user account deletion
            • Full HD video --> Works just fine on my 2008 era Intel laptop with integrated video... and I'm using it to drive a 1080p display to show ripped Blu-Rays at full definition on top of a composited KDE desktop.

            • You don't need a discrete GPU for any of that. They're not even computationally intensive.

              Computationally intensive = 4 hours for a simulation.

              • Nope: computationally intensive means "slower than instantaneous".
                • You know damned well that it's usually I/O throughput, not processor power, that prevents things from loading or displaying instantaneously. "computationally intensive" means it'll peg one or more cores, not that you'll wait a couple of seconds while your operating system accesses the information it needs from a hard drive.

                  For casual use like surfing the web, writing up a document in a word processor, or playing some stupid flash game on Facebook, it's quite possible to get by with a 1.6GHz netbook without

            • An Atom 330 with ION chipset (NVidia 9400M, aka integrated graphics) handles Full HD just fine.
              • Clearly if they do it like ION then there is nothing to fear. If it is another shitty Intel integrated or something like the ancient Radeon IGP then God, please, humanity has been punished enough!
            • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
              An Intel Sandy Bridge on integrated graphics is quite snappy. I think you're a generation old on complaining. Next year's Ivy Bridge GPUs will be much stronger and should handle 1080p at ~30fps on most current games. Just make sure you set the quality to low. The current Intel integrated GPUs are getting 45fps in WoW at medium and can even beat nVidia 480 at converting videos.
              • Just make sure you set the quality to low.

                Unacceptable. If it cannot handle mid to high settings, do not want.

            • by Kjella ( 173770 )

              No, full HD video is not particularly computing intense with dedicated hardware. The Intel Core i5-2500K decodes 5 simultanious 1080p streams [] according to Anandtech. Hell it even has HDMI 1.4a and 3D support if you're into that, this is "integrated" performance in 2011. I don't know how intensive Photoshop with thousand layers can get, but simple touchups of photos certainly do fine without a discrete GPU.

            • The FUD would be the anecdotal evidence that many have already provided that you're completely and utterly wrong.

              And to add to the anecdotal evidence: I have a 2-year old netbook which is able to handle 1920x1080p through its VGA out port, with a composited desktop and full motion video at that resolution. While I don't use it for intensive gaming, I have played Civ4 and WoW on the netbook at that resolution. While it's not exactly an ideal configuration, both games are playable. When I'm typing up a docume

            • "Full HD video, 3D movies, photo processing are computationally intensive"

              Full HD video isn't computationaly intensive if you have specialized hardware, and isn't even practical if you do on a general porpose GPU. The same applies to 3D movies (displaying them, not rendering).

              Now, photo processing... That was quite heeavywork for the hardware available at the late 90's. Today we do it at portable devices.

              Yet, lots of people do computationaly intensive things. Mainly gamming.

            • Try connecting a full HD monitor to an integrated Intel GPU and you'll see what I meant.

              I have a machine set up that way right now, with a pathetic 945 chipset driving a 1920 x 1600 display at full resolution. It's amazing how much 3D framerate I can coax out of it, provided I stick to what works nicely in its fixed function pipeline. That was my 3D development box for years. We are talking Pentium M here. A Zacate chip consuming significantly less power will blow that right out of the water.

        • Apparently you have not used any recent integrated GPU's from AMD. My integrated Radeon 4250 can play Left4Dead 2 at a fine framerate with the settings adjusted appropriately. Accelerated desktops are light duty work. I don't think it'll do OpenCL right now, but AMD is serious about making their integrated graphics better than the barely usable stuff they've been pushing out before; I'm sure future iterations will do all of these things even better than current ones do.

          • Actually I am writing this message on an integrated Radeon, and I am quite happy with it. My fear is that further reduction of power could mean a return to the past, and I've been there and care not to go back :)
    • I realize that Integrated Graphics are sub-par, but to say they're useless for games unless you're a masochist (the "self" is redundant...), is a bit overstating it. Many of us non-gamers do like to play a game from time to time, but we don't want to spend ourself into bankruptcy. Guess, what? This means we buy older games (cheaper!), and from my experience today's integrated graphics (also cheaper!) handle older games perfectly fine.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday March 18, 2011 @07:18AM (#35527940)

        I actually can chip on this on a "this is not true" side. My father isn't a gamer by any stretch - the only games he likes to play are various arcanoid derivatives. Which meant that his work laptop served him just fine.
        Then came shatter, and he all but killed me with his "why won't my laptop run this?" questions. Try to explain to someone running the crappy intel 945GM that always ran the old 2d arcanoids that shatter just won't work on it.

        So now, I'm probably giving them my current gaming computer as I upgrade, and I'm pretty sure he'll be telling tech support at work that his next laptop has better include 3d acceleration or else (he's in position to be able to tell them that). So the old saying applies here - you'll be satisfied with integrated, until in comes one killer application that it won't run, and then you aren't. Problem is, with so much software requiring decent 3d graphics on board (even aero does!) you're still best served by a half decent dedicated graphics card that powers itself down when 3d features aren't used or used sparingly.

        Finally there's an issue of quality, and that goes beyond 3d. Most integrated chipsets have clear problems displaying higher resolutions, which is why high resolution laptops generally have a dedicated chipset rather then integrated solution.

        • Ehm...

          I just checked. Shatter was released in 2010(!) for Windows. The Integrated graphics you mention were released in January 2006. Go and read my comment again: I said, older games on modern-day integrated graphics. I'm pretty sure Shatter will work perfectly fine on my wifes ATI Radeon HD 5750 (iMac bought in fall 2010)... which are the integrated graphics sold these days. Will Shatter work on my 2007 laptop? Can't say, because I can't find system requirements of Shatter. However, the ATI Radeon

          • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

            Shatter's system requirements were on a level of a 2005 computer at best, which is my point. Specifically my older 2005 bought computer ran it fine on max settings with a barely passable graphics card.

            As for high resolution, 1280x1024 hasn't been "high" for a decade at least. The high resolutions nowadays start at around 1900x1200 and go up from there. My 1680x1050 is average at best nowadays, and in games tends to be the lowest benchmarked resolution.

    • Actually the AMD IGPs aren't half bad. Sure they'll never beat a discrete but while I was waiting for my discrete to show up I was playing Bioshock, FEAR, Swat 4, L4D, pretty much anything I wanted and that was with last years 4250 onboard. The new APU chips have an HD6xxx IIRC, anywhere from an HD6250 to an HD6550 depending on chip.

      And the reason nobody allows you to write directly to hardware is we already tried that back in the days of DOS. What you ended up with was a single bit of buggy code could take

    • by Inda ( 580031 )
      The integrated graphics on my HP notebook are plenty fast enough to play CIV5.

      All these new HTML5 demos run at above 50fps. More than enough.

      The HDMI port outputs full 1080p to my plasma TV.

      A sibling poster is correct - no one really cares about how many FLOPS a GFX card can handle.
    • What the hell are you talking about? The Xbox 360 uses DirectX just the same as Windows.

      If you could change graphics settings on consoles the same as PCs, you'd probably notice the difference, but I'd assume that playing games on a console is often the equivalent of using "medium" settings on a PC. I say this as someone with both a PS3 and 360, not trying to say that the consoles are inferior in terms of gameplay, just that obviously a modern day PC is going to kick their ass. That's how things work. Consol

      • What the hell are you talking about? The Xbox 360 uses DirectX just the same as Windows.

        It doesn't use Windows the same as Windows, though; the Xbox 360 OS is based on the Xbox OS which is based on Windows 2000. But it has almost none of the OS present... Which is why you need a quad-core to play Grand Theft Auto when the Xbox 360 has only three. OS overhead.

        • Still, it's a far cry from banging directly on the hardware.. they could be doing even more on the Xbox if they were allowed to do that.

          • Still, it's a far cry from banging directly on the hardware.. they could be doing even more on the Xbox if they were allowed to do that.

            DirectX is frankly close enough. The version of DirectX was bumped for both systems to permit DirectX developers to take better advantage of the hardware.

    • A lot of it has also to do with an unneccesary demand for ultra-high resolution. Some of my all-time favorite games, like Need for Speed 5 or space-battle-tank-fighter Battlezone, are playable on a netbook with integrated graphics while emulated through Wine. I still prefer them to e.g. the latest Need for Speed, where content and playability has been sacrifized on the altar of cartoon realism and HD/HDR graphics. Hey, EA: I don't enjoy games more if they are ultra-high-def, I enjoy them more if they are fu
      • by Auroch ( 1403671 )

        I still prefer them to e.g. the latest Need for Speed, where content and playability has been sacrifized on the altar of cartoon realism and HD/HDR graphics

        Let me tell you, there are way more people addicted to WoW than to nethack and dwarf fortress. I'm not saying one is better than the other for gameplay... but I am saying that gameplay is not the only reason to play. You need to reach a minimum threshold of performance. This APU just upped that threshold.

    • The target for on die GPUs aren't crysis and call of duty, it's aero and quartz. Which sandy bridge handles very well.

    • IGP's are sufficient for most games. Yes, you read that right. IGP's with good drivers are sufficient for playing the games that most people play. These include Flash games (Farmville) and the "demo" games that come with a typical OS installation (Solitaire).

      I hate how supposed "gamers" dominate any discussion that remotely has anything to do with computer graphics. Not everybody wants to play Crysis (and I don't even know what that is, without a quick peek at Wikipedia).

    • IIRC, AMD's Zacate fusion chips have 80 stream processors, same as the 4350 I normally develop for (because it is fanless and quiet). The GPU is connected to the CPU by a bus with (I think this is right) 2 ns latency, put that in your pipe at smoke it.

      The writing is very clearly on the wall for integrated vs discrete.

  • by kvezach ( 1199717 ) on Friday March 18, 2011 @06:08AM (#35527620)
    And the wheel of reincarnation [] turns another step.
  • One of the good things about having the GPU integrated in the processor chip itself is you don't have to go through the bus, so this reduces latency and leaves more bandwidth for everything else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2011 @06:13AM (#35527632)

    ...CPU handling the graphics in laptops is already causing overheating issues.

    Two cases in point, a Toshiba laptop with AMD and a 13" MacBook Pro with Intel, the fans run annoyingly at high speed, the bottoms are hot enough to fry eggs on. That's just sitting with one web page open. How long can one expect machine like that to last? A year? two maybe?

    Are web pages going to suddenly tone down their act, quit using video, animation, Flash? Text and pictures only? If they do that, then what? Hardware makers only start making laptops that can handle web text?

    Dedicated graphics is the way to go, CPU and graphics on separate dies away from each other, separate the heat sources.

    I can just imagine the scene where a bunch of power hungry types just made the decision to move towards integrated graphics, and a highly intelligent engineer just stomping out of the boardroom in protest.

    • How long can one expect machine like that to last? A year? two maybe?

      Heh.... Don't you think you just put your finger on the whole point? Computers are strong enough (most people really overestimate their real needs, and think they really do need that i7, if the Core2Duo would have overkill already.) and have been, for I dare to say, the last 6 years. I use today a machine I bought in january 2007 and it was one on sale, to get rid of it before the Vista release. So it was already bottom-line back then.

      • I admire that you continue to use older hardware... If it works then so much better for the environment...

        But I've noticed that I really appreciate the extra horsepower. Between work, non-work and play, having a fast processor, gobs of memory and great graphics is really nice. For work, I run a VMWare virtual machine so when I connect to the VPN I don't lost my local connectivity. Within that VM need to run compiles, Lotus Bloats, Word, etc.. For my non-work, I run some pretty hefty graphics and finance

    • Two cases in point, a Toshiba laptop with AMD and a 13" MacBook Pro with Intel, the fans run annoyingly at high speed, the bottoms are hot enough to fry eggs on. That's just sitting with one web page open.

      This tells me a few things:

      • - The laptops were not built correctly with an appropriately sized heat sink.
      • - Web developers still haven't figured out how to use wait states.
      • - Web browsers haven't, either.

      I don't think discrete graphics chips are going to solve any of these problems.

    • by grqb ( 410789 )

      "Two cases in point, a Toshiba laptop with AMD and a 13" MacBook Pro with Intel, the fans run annoyingly at high speed, the bottoms are hot enough to fry eggs on. That's just sitting with one web page open. How long can one expect machine like that to last? A year? two maybe?"

      This is an 13" MacBook Pro doesn't get hot or have the fans turn on with a single web page, nor does this happen while browsing the web/watching youtube.

    • Basic thermodynamics says that the heat dissipation requires heatsinks. Whether we are talking 2 heatsinks connected via heatpipes to a heatsink and fan, or one larger heatsink connected to a fan the thermal dissipation is the same. There's potential for even lower combined heat output if the GPU and the CPU share a common chip as the number of ancillary circuits (power management etc) will be reduced.
  • This is ontopicish, isn't it? And it's all ready out there. (Hasn't probably "taken off" (depending on the definition of that), though...)

    I'd love to have a Toshiba AC100 smartbook with an Nvidia Tegra ARM cpu. Capable of HD output, 9 h battery (on lighter usage IIRC). About 800 grams. Runs Android, but an Ubuntu port is progressing, from what I can tell.

    • I have one. The main problems with it are that in Android, there is a certain lack of applications I need (can't seem to find a decent text editor / wordprocessor, for one).

      Under Linux, you get all the software (Pidgin, proper text editors with undo and stuff, GIMP and so on) and it's handy for playing with ARM ports of software, but the battery life is only about 3.5 hours. If you want to keep Android there it has to run off the SD card, which is very slow, even with a class 10 card. I might try install

      • by Auroch ( 1403671 )

        The main problems with it are that in Android, there is a certain lack of applications I need (can't seem to find a decent text editor / wordprocessor, for one).

        Good thing you can compile one yourself!

        • Good thing you can compile one yourself!

          The NDK doesn't really allow access to the UI and writing one from scratch in Java was not a prospect I really fancied. It was easier to just stick Linux on it.

          I hadn't considered the possibility of QT on Android, though - an android build of Kate would be ideal. Wouldn't help with GIMP or Pidgin, mind.

    • []

      The beautifully designed and executed hardware is very close to my ideal netbook, and it's hardly an exaggeration to say that I'm heart-broken by Toshiba's cocked-up Android implementation. The best one can hope for is a firmware rescue from the open source community, although I wonder if the product will stay around long enough in these tablet-obsessed times for that to happen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2011 @06:21AM (#35527688)

    Way back near the dawn of time, Intel created the 8086, and its slightly less capable little brother, the 8088. And they were reasonable processors ... but although they were good at arithmetic, it was within tight constraints. Fractions were just too hard. Trigonometry sent the poor little souls into a spin. And so on.

    And thus, the 8087 was born. It was able to carry the burden of floating point mathematical functions, thereby making things nice and fast for those few who were willing to pony up the cash for the chip.

    Then out came the 80286 (let's forget about the 80186, it's not really all that relevant here). It was better at arithmetic than the 8086, but still couldn't handle floating point - so it had a friend, the 80287, that filled the same purpose for the 80286 as the 8087 did for the 8086 and 8088. (We'll blithely ignore Weitek's offerings here. They existed. They're not really germane to the discussion.)

    Then the 80386. Much, much better at arithmetic than the 80286, but floating point was still an Achilles heel - so the 80387 came along for the ride.

    And finally, the i486. By this stage, transistors had become small enough that Intel could integrate the FPU on die - so there was no i487. At least, not until they came out with the i486SX, which I'll blithely ignore. And so, an accelerator chip that was once hideously expensive and used only by a few who really needed it was integrated onto chips that everybody would buy.

    Funnily enough, it was around the time that the i486 appeared that graphics accelerators came onto the scene - first for 2D (who remembers the Tseng Labs W32p?), and then for 3D. Expensive, used only by a few who could justify the cost ... is this starting to sound familiar to you?

    So another cycle is beginning to complete, and more functionality that used to be discrete is now to be folded onto the CPU. I can't help but wonder ... what will be next?

    • Memory will be next.
    • The whole reason graphics was separated out is it is so damn math intensive. In particular, it calls for a certain kind of parallel math that CPUs aren't, or perhaps more accurately weren't, very good at. Building a real general purpose CPU which could do good 3D was just not possible. Slowly it is becoming more possible. We are still a long way off, but approaching it.

      Ultimately everything on one CPU is what we want. However it isn't possible for high end 3D, hence it gets put off to a separate combination

    • by spud603 ( 832173 )

      So another cycle is beginning to complete, and more functionality that used to be discrete is now to be folded onto the CPU. I can't help but wonder ... what will be next?

      Next is the JSPU, a dedicated chip to speed up javascript performance. It's the future.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As long as they cost less than half of what I'll spend to replace them

    • a) when the CPU is outdated
    • b) when the graphics are.
    • To be fair, if you don't upgrade one or the other on a regular basis you'll likely end up getting both at the same time regardless. I'm not about to use a 2011 cpu with a 2005 gpu or vice versa.

  • It is very nice to see that competition is pushing the market to get better and better :)

  • At one point most gamers had dedicated sound cards. Eventually the technology caught up and almost every gamer now uses integrated sound.

    Graphics will eventually get that way. It won't be this year but that is the trend.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."