Netbooks pack Nvidia graphics, dual-core Atom

Updated at 12:05 p.m. PDT on August 24 to correct cache memory size and Atom processor in Shenzhen Weibu Electronics Netbook and adding Prime Note Cresion Netbook information. Akiba Hotline originally misidentified the processor used in the Netbook from Shenzhen Weibu Electronics. The Japanese Web site has since revised the article to say the Netbook uses an single-core Atom 270. A Netbook announced earlier in the summer from Dospara (below) does use the dual-core Atom 330 processor.

Most Netbooks have been on a strict Atom diet. But models that have appeared in Japan are feasting on Nvidia graphics … Read more

Apple MacBook Air: Cooler graphics

Is there a downside to squeezing a real graphics processor into a 3-pound, ultra-thin laptop? Not if it's a MacBook Air.

After extensive use of two versions (the January 2008 original and October 2008 refresh) of the MacBook Air, my conclusion is that a decent graphics chip can--over the long haul--not only deliver the expected boost in performance but, surprisingly, contribute to better battery life while, even more surprisingly, bringing down the heat to acceptable levels.

First, let me address the original Air. I have used this version now for about 18 months. Though it has been remarkably reliable, … Read more

AMD answers Intel with 'Congo,' HP laptop

Updated at 5:15 p.m. PDT: correcting for AMD dual-core Neo in HP dv2 laptop and adding Acer Aspire Timeline AS3810T discussion.

Advanced Micro Devices will debut its dual-core low-power Athlon chip technology on an updated laptop from Hewlett-Packard next week. This will be followed by "Congo" low-power silicon later this year.

AMD is aiming its Neo technology at the ultra-thin laptop market. This is the same market that Intel has addressed for a long time with its ULV (ultra-low-voltage) chips. However, until very recently, laptops using Intel's ULV chips were expensive "executive jewelry," … Read more

Nvidia: Chips to speed Apple Leopard, Windows 7

Updated on April 27 at 8:20 a.m. PDT with additional information about DirectX 11 and correcting for Intel comments at bottom.

Graphics chips will be tapped to accelerate more tasks in upcoming versions of Apple's and Microsoft's operating systems, according to Nvidia.

In an interview Friday with Sumit Gupta, product manager for Nvidia's Tesla products, Gupta described how new programming environments will tap into the latent compute horsepower of graphics processors to accelerate software in Apple's upcoming OS X Snow Leopard and Microsoft's Windows 7 operating systems.

Graphics chips aren't just for games anymore. The trend toward general-purpose graphics processing is defined by an acronym that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue: GPGPU. But the essence of General Purpose computing on Graphics Processing Units is pretty simple: use the scores--or even hundreds in higher-end chips--of processing cores inside GPUs to speed tasks that, in some cases, would be done much less efficiently by the central processing unit (CPU).

This is where OpenCL (Open Computing Language) comes in. OpenCL is a programming environment for "heterogeneous" computing. That is, computers using a mix of multicore CPUs and GPUs. Microsoft's analogous programming environment is DirectX.

Apple says this about OpenCL on its Web site. "Another powerful Snow Leopard technology, OpenCL...makes it possible for developers to efficiently tap the vast gigaflops of computing power currently locked up in the graphics processing unit."

Today, on a PC or a Mac, the CPUs made by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices are adept at handling general operating system tasks. For instance, handling the sequence of things that must happen after the user clicks on an icon to start an application on their desktop. … Read more

Acer PC joins Nvidia's 'Ion' with Intel's Atom

Updated at 3:50 p.m. PST: correcting for Intel GN40 graphics support and adding pricing information for target market.

Acer launched a PC Tuesday that attempts to bring PC-class performance to Atom-processor-based PCs.

The Acer AspireRevo is the first Atom-based PC from a major PC supplier to use Nvidia's Ion chipset that packs GeForce 9400M graphics, the same graphics used in the Apple 13-inch MacBook and MacBook Air.

By design, Atom is a more power frugal and, concomitantly, slower processor than Intel's mainstream Core 2 chip architecture.

The AspireRevo's marquee external feature is the diminutive size: … Read more

Apple and the Nvidia 'problem'

Nvidia is again at the center of a graphics tempest in the media, this time surrounding performance issues of Apple's new 17-inch MacBook Pro. Two little pesky questions haven't been answered yet, however. Are Nvidia graphics chips really the problem? And are the issues really that widespread?

Postings in an Apple discussion forum cite a smorgasbord of problems: Some cite the Nvidia GeForce 9600M, while others point to issues with fan speed. Another post points to faulty wiring and another to the main processor (i.e., Intel). But this is just one forum. Does this really indicate widespread … Read more

Nvidia chips score big in Apple Mac lineup

Updated at 11:50 a.m. PST with additional information on Nvidia and ATI graphics in Mac Pro

Apple's rollout of new Macs Tuesday was a vote of confidence for Nvidia: its graphics chip have now become as ubiquitous as Intel's processors across the Mac line.

Apple's entire Mac lineup now features Nvidia GeForce GPUs. "If you go into a retail store, it's (Nvidia) top to bottom," said an Nvidia spokesperson today. "The message is that Apple is differentiating itself, investing in the GPU," he said.

The GPU, or graphics processing unit, … Read more

Nvidia aims at top Netbooks, Windows 7

Nvidia is working with top-10 PC makers to bring its graphics chips for the first time to Netbooks, according to an executive at the company. And an important part of this push is getting its silicon working with Windows 7, a more Netbook-friendly operating system than Vista.

This week, Nvidia released Windows 7 beta drivers for the "Ion" Netbook silicon that it's handing over to customers. In conjunction, Nvidia demonstrated in Taiwan this week applications running on Windows 7. Nvidia also announced that its Ion platform has been certified on Windows Vista.

The Ion chipset is based … Read more

New HP ultraportable first to use AMD Neo chip

Updated at 11:05 p.m. PST with additional information throughout.

Another Netbook? No, not exactly. Hewlett-Packard's new Pavilion dv2 is an ultraportable, thank you. And the new Athlon Neo silicon inside from Advanced Micro Devices will try to prove that point.

AMD is introducing new chips at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that target the no-man's land between Netbooks and notebooks. Typically, these designs are referred to as ultraportables--the most salient examples being Apple's MacBook Air, the Toshiba Portege, and the Sony Vaio TT series.

So what makes AMD's platform different? In one … Read more

Nvidia bids to dislodge Intel as rivalry gets ugly

Intel and Nvidia are entering into a new, nasty phase of competition. What's at stake? Only the future of the personal computer.

Although the Santa Clara, Calif., neighbors (located only a couple of miles from each other) have never really been on speaking terms, the rivalry is intensifying with the emergence of the Netbook--small, lightweight laptops priced below $500.

The competitive backdrop is still the same--Intel's longstanding (and very successful) vision of a CPU-centric universe versus Nvidia's creed that graphics processing matters more and more in a multimedia-intensive world.

The challenge for Nvidia is that as laptops … Read more