Old News: AMD CTO resigns, NVIDIA CFO retires, DDR3 for MCP7A, S3, etc.

Monday 14th April 2008, 09:30:00 PM, written by Arun

We missed a couple of news-worthy tidbits in recent days and weeks, so here's a quick news post with links to each of these things and a tiny bit of individual analysis. First on the list: 3dFX releases the Voodoo Graphics 3D accelerator! Oh right, let's skip that one then...

AMD announced on Friday that Phil Hester, the company's CTO, was stepping down. His primary responsibility was the 'Accelerated Processing Unit' initiative, which included GPU integration for Fusion, but also special-purpose units for encryption, video, TCP/IP, etc. - it's an appealing concept, but sadly it doesn't look like they figured out any 'killer app' yet, just solid incremental improvements. Phil Hester's interview with Hexus.TV on the subject and several others is quite interesting, so it's worth a watch if you'd like to know more. We wish Phil Hester the best of luck in his future endeavours.

In related (and much older) news, NVIDIA's CFO Marvin Burkett announced his plan on March 21 to retire. He is 65 years old according to Forbes.com and joined the company in 2002, just before the GeForce FX debacle started in earnest. He did a splendid job in the following years of improving NVIDIA's financial strength and discipline, and he had an extremely good understanding of the GPU business and of the semiconductor industry in general. We have nothing but respect for what he did throughout his career, and we belatedly wish him a very enjoyable retirement.

Next, there are rumours from expreview.com according to which MCP7A-U (the upcoming Intel IGP from NVIDIA) will support DDR3-1333 despite previous rumours indicating the contrary. The implication is obvious: if this is correct, the nForce 790i will become redundant and may be replaced by a MCP7A+BR04 combo (ala nForce 780a, which is MCP78+BR04). It might even make DDR3 available for VIA's Isaiah processor (it might be appealing for power consumption), if rumours indicating MCP7A (aka MCP79) supports Isaiah are correct. The product is expected in July.

And then you might also have noticed we skipped coverage of the 9800 GTX completely. We were just waiting for The Tech Report to come up with their review. And here it is. As usual, well worth the read. There have also been a lot of rumours on 55nm shrinks of G9x and even more on RV770, but honestly none of them feel incredibly reliable to us so we'd suggest not bothering too much about it just yet.

And finally, surprise surprise: S3 is now the performance leader in the 64-bit memory bus market. The Chrome 430GT, which has been available in the USA since late March, has been benchmarked quite extensively by asian website yesky.com and both performance and compatibility are both positively surprising.

Yesky's charts are quite explicit, so there really isn't much more to say. Given how small S3's R&D budget likely was compared to NVIDIA and ATI's, this is a very impressive feat. The fact they are competitive with a 64-bit memory bus also implies that their lossless framebuffer compression algorithms are very competitive, and that's something which smaller competitors never got right in the past - so that's also quite a feat!

The Chrome 430GT has a MSRP of $59, which is slightly more expensive than that of its direct competitors. However, it still seems to be a very competitive offering for its target market, and certainly this makes S3 a much more valuable part of VIA. We'll be curious to see when this GPU core is going to be integrated into an IGP; certainly not in the next few months, given that otherwise the NVIDIA-VIA partnership would make a fair bit less sense.

The chip supports both DirectX 10.1 and antialiasing, although neither feature has yet been benchmarked obviously. It also sports H.264 decoding acceleration (see: quick test at chiphell.com), making it viable for a cool & quiet HTPC.

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graphics ± stuff, resign, retire, mcp79, mcp7a, g92, s3, chrome, 430gt

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