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Nvidia Analyst Day: Biting Back at Intel

Getting down to the bones

It wasn't long before Huang started ranting – it was clear that Intel's statements had hit a nerve. "We've been taking it and taking it and taking it... every single frickin' day. Enough is enough!" he said.

Nvidia's CEO had already started attacking Intel's Integrated Graphics Chipsets when he started tackling the market share myths, but he then got a bit more direct. He took the chip giant's claim that will increase in performance by an order of magnitude by 2010 and presented some data to show where that will take us.

"It's important to note that we've stacked the odds in Intel's favour here," said Huang while showing a graph of relative performance. "We've turned everything down with none of the effects turned on. No gamer would play it like this – it's what we call the crappy mode."

According to the graph in his slide deck, Intel wouldn't match Nvidia's current mainstream products that sell for under $100 US with a tenfold increase in Integrated Graphics performance. "If I gave our company a 10x challenge, that would be like going to the moon right? That's much much faster than Moore's Law – it's almost irrational to challenge your organisation like that," Huang claimed.

Nvidia Analyst Day: Biting Back at Intel Getting down to the bones Nvidia Analyst Day: Biting Back at Intel Getting down to the bones
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The onslaught from Intel continued during some of the additional briefings and interviews that involved Intel's graphics division at the event. Huang's slide deck quoted Ron Fosner, a technologist for Intel's graphics and gaming division, saying that there will "probably be no need [to purchase a dedicated graphics card in a short while]," from an interview with TGDaily in the advanced technology zone.

Not surprisingly, this claim upset Huang because he knows that his own discrete GPU business is growing massively, with the company consistently posting impressive year-on-year revenue growth for the past few years. Nvidia is also recognised as the fastest growing fabless semiconductor company in the world according to Huang, even despite the fact that he's adamant that his company isn't a semiconductor company and is instead a visual computing company (or rather the visual computing company – another bold claim) that figures out how to deliver great experiences for its customers.

Jen-Hsun said he wouldn't mind if Intel "just said thank you for making it possible for its customers to run a game on an Intel microprocessor."

Tim Sweeney's recent statements about the state of the PC industry that the bit-tech community was so vocal about then became the topic of discussion. Of course, Huang neglected to mention Sweeney's thoughts on 3-way and Quad SLI, but did make reference to his attack on Intel's Integrated Graphics Chipsets with an entire slide dedicated to the Unreal Engine creator's onslaught.

Nvidia Analyst Day: Biting Back at Intel Getting down to the bones Nvidia Analyst Day: Biting Back at Intel Getting down to the bones
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The Intel Integrated Graphics rant continued with the focus then turned to the GMA 3100 which, Huang claims, cannot run two thirds of today's top selling games. The list of games that were unplayable or had problems included casual games such as The Sims 2, Civilization IV and Sim City 5, along with favourite first-person shooters like Crysis, Call of Duty 4 and even Half-Life 2. "That seems like a problem," he said.

Huang then went back to the topic he was originally discussing before he started his direct attack on Intel's capabilities – the myth of Intel's market share in the graphics industry. He brought up the Steam Hardware Survey as statistical evidence that Nvidia’s own share of the market is bigger than GPU shipments would suggest. According to the latest edition of the survey, Nvidia's market share is 62 percent, while AMD has 31 percent and Intel 2.6 percent. "I think that's statistically relevant," said Huang. "We're not arguing about a few percentage points here – we're taking about a massive difference [in Intel’s share]."

He then moved to DirectX 10 support in the survey – Nvidia has around 87 percent of the GPUs in systems that can run DX10, while AMD has 12.6 percent and Intel has just over 0.1 percent. "965 and G35 are both supposed to be DX10 – Intel has 0.11 percent [of DX10 market share according to Steam]. I think that's just a flaw, he said while laughing.

Despite what Huang claims is statistically relevant data, one has to remember that this is an opt in survey, so it could be that many Intel IGP users aren't choosing to opt in because they've got nothing to shout about. On the other hand, those with spangly new high-end hardware might be more than eager to show that they've got a kick-ass system – you know, the forum signature syndrome all over again.

Nvidia Analyst Day: Biting Back at Intel Getting down to the bones Nvidia Analyst Day: Biting Back at Intel Getting down to the bones
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"If the work that you do is not hard enough, is not fast moving enough and is not good enough, then Moore's Law is your enemy and it will suck you up," said Huang.

Yet more quotes from Fosner were brought up – he believes that "multi-core processors [can] handle life-like animations, such as weather or effects better than dedicated GPUs. For instance, multi-core processors can handle the graphics tasks in a better manner than a high-end graphics board could ever do."

"[All of these claims are] just false. They cross the line of politeness and fair play," blasted Huang.