NVidia, Intel no longer appear to be prospective partners

During an analyst meeting yesterday, the head of NVidia stated clearly that NVidia is a GPU company and not a semiconductor manufacturer, destroying any flicker of hope that it and Intel may jointly combat AMD and its ATI division.

"We're going to open a can of whoop ass," boasted NVidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang during an NVidia Financial Day analyst meeting yesterday, invoking a word that BetaNews' own automatic comments parser system would splash an asterisk in the middle of.

The verbal jousting began last week in Shanghai at the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai, when Intel representatives boldly stated that discrete graphics cards will eventually become "unnecessary" for the regular consumer in the future. According to Intel, multi-core CPUs would be the final blow and end consumer need for multi-GPU technology, with Intel believing multi-core CPUs are powerful enough to render high-end graphics in video games and other graphic-intensive activities.

Most notably from NVidia's perspective, Intel plans to have samples of Larrabee, its 16-core multi-pipeline graphics processor component, available in Q4 this year, with public shipment beginning sometime in 2009.

During the Financial Analyst day yesterday, NVidia provided several slides that indicate current Intel integrated graphics technology will only become competitive with today's sub-$100 discrete cards from both AMD/ATI and NVidia, in two years' time. However, NVidia's technology available today will still be able to outperform Intel's integrated solution as far out as 2010.

"Intel has crossed the line and they're saying false things," Huang said after calling the Larrabee platform "Laughabee."

While NVidia is generally known as a consumer-oriented manufacturer, a growing share of its revenue comes from the high-performance computing (HPC) market. NVidia's push towards HPC means it will likely bump heads against Intel, where increased graphics leads to better compute performance. After Larrabee launches in 2010, analysts expect the platform to first have a strong impact on the HPC market.

After NVidia's Huang slammed Intel for poor performance over the company's claims that its integrated GMA 3100 graphics is Windows Vista Premium compatible -- a claim recently proven incorrect by Microsoft employees -- Intel pointed at NVidia video card drivers as the culprit for a large number of Windows Vista crashes.

"NVidia has to support several new titles every week," Huang countered. "You already have the right machine to run Excel. You bought it four years ago. How much faster can you render the blue screen of death?"

Intel PR manager Dan Snyder would only go so far today as to tell BetaNews, "We are not surprised, based on what NVidia's CEO has been publicly saying for months."

Even though Intel is known as a CPU company, it still has a 43% market share of overall graphics chip shipments in 4Q 2007 -- taking all those integrated chips into account -- with NVidia controlling a 33% share.

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