The importance of GPU performance is increasing; if it weren't, Intel wouldn't be so feverishly working to bring Larrabee to market and Apple wouldn't have announced a switch away from Intel chipsets two years after adopting them. GPU accelerated applications are finally beginning to get some exposure; Adobe's recent Photoshop CS4 introduction is the perfect example. If more big-name developers deliver GPU accelerated applications that matter, having a higher performance integrated graphics solution becomes more interesting.

Things have been amazingly quiet on the Intel chipset front. Once the AMD-ATI acquisition was announced, development on ATI Intel chipsets all but halted as did shipments of ATI's chipsets to motherboard makers - no one was looking to touch that beast with a 10 foot pole. That left Intel and NVIDIA as the only providers for Intel chipsets.

We finally got G45 a couple of months ago, but in many ways it was a mild upgrade to G35 rather than the platform we'd all been waiting for. NVIDIA has had its gloves on and eyes set on causing Intel trouble wherever possible, so it's not a surprise that NVIDIA's G45 killer is set up to look even stronger on paper.

The GeForce 9300 and 9400 are similar in many ways to the GeForce 8200/8300 from the AMD world, but obviously since we're talking about non-Nehalem Intel platforms they do have a few changes like the inclusion of a memory controller. Like their AMD counterparts however, the GeForce 9300/9400 are single-chip solutions and unlike the 8200/8300 they are built on a smaller 65nm manufacturing process.

  AMD 780G Intel G45 NVIDIA GeForce 9400 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 NVIDIA GeForce 8200
CPU AMD Socket-AM2 Intel LGA-775 Intel LGA-775 Intel LGA-775 AMD Socket-AM2
Manufacturing Process 55nm 65nm 65nm 65nm 80nm
FSB N/A 800 / 1066 / 1333MHz 800 / 1066 / 1333MHz 800 / 1066 / 1333MHz N/A
Memory Controller N/A 2 x 64-bit DDR2/DDR3 channels 2 x 64-bit DDR2/DDR3 channels 2 x 64-bit DDR2/DDR3 channels N/A
Memory Speeds Supported N/A DDR2-800/667
DDR3-1066/800
DDR2-800
DDR3-1333
DDR2-800
DDR3-1333
N/A
PCI Express 22 PCIe 2.0 lanes 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes 20 PCIe 2.0 lanes 20 PCIe 2.0 lanes 19 PCIe 2.0 lanes
Graphics Radeon HD 3200 GMA X4500 GeForce 9400 mGPU GeForce 9300 mGPU GeForce 8200 mGPU
Core Clock 500MHz 800MHz 580MHz Core / 1.4GHz Shader 450MHz Core / 1.2GHz Shader 500MHz Core / 1.2GHz Shader
Shader Processors 8 (5-way) 10 16 16 8
Full H.264/VC-1/MPEG-2 HW Decode Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
8-channel LPCM No Yes Yes Yes Yes

 

The single-chip design does help enable small form factors as you can get a little more compact with your motherboard layout, but this is mainly an advantage on the mobile side (or with non-standard desktop form factors, e.g. iMac). Built on a 65nm process we should actually see power consumption fairly competitive with Intel's G45, especially given that Intel's ICH10 is built on a 130nm process while the G45 is 65nm.

Feature-wise we do get some upgrades over NVIDIA's previous chipsets, exclusively in the graphics department, which we'll get to shortly. Finally, GeForce 9300 boards should be selling for around $100 on average with availability shortly.

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  • sonicology - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    Nice LL Cool J reference in the article description! Reply
  • cghebert - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    Hey guys,

    Great to see the articles are up. A couple of quick questions and a comment.

    Could you mention clearly what nvidia driver versions (both graphics and HDMI) you used for the tests?

    Also, you seem to hint that 5.1 audio is an option with this newest driver set from nvidia. Is this indeed the case?

    Also, to echo the comments of some others, it would be nice to see the blu ray playback numbers with cheaper cpus. I have seen the Athlon X2 BE (2.3 ghz) going for less than $40, and even a 3 ghz X2 for $75 or so, which would certainly make buying a cheap discrete graphics card a viable option cost-wise.
    Reply
  • nvmarino - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    >>Unfortunately, as we've mentioned before, there is no support for bitstreaming Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA; you'll need to wait until sometime next year before you get full support there.

    Hmm - does that mean the hardware is there in THIS chipset but we nned to wait for driver/bios updates!?!?!?!? Or are we talking about a new chipset?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    Sorry for the confusion, absolutely none of the current chipsets (G45, 780G, GF8200, GF9300) support or will support bitstreaming TrueHD/DTS-HD MA. Next year we will see the first GPUs with actual support for this.

    8-channel LPCM is the best you'll get for now.

    -A
    Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Friday, October 17, 2008 - link

    Isn't LPCM the best you can get anyway? Your Blu-ray decoder (Eg. PowerDVD, standalone Blu-ray player) decodes the audio stream (the best available) and sends that audio to your stereo via PCM. Some Blu-rays even have the LPCM stream raw on the disc. Why would you ever want/care about TrueHD/DTS-HD MA streaming when you are already getting perfect, lossless 7.1 audio to your speakers?

    Source: http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/1064">http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/1064
    Reply
  • nvmarino - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    Hybrd power was one of the more compelling features of this chipset for HTPC use - I want my box sipping as little juice as possible untile game time. Unfortunately, all the reviews I've read so far and this Nvidia page:
    http://www.nvidia.com/object/hybrid_sli_desktop.ht...">http://www.nvidia.com/object/hybrid_sli_desktop.ht...
    seem to indicate Hybrid Power is NOT a feature of the new chipset. I read the comment earlier about it being up to board manufacturers to implement but the page linked above seems to indicate the chipset itself lacks support. Can you guys please confirm?
    Reply
  • sascham - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    I've been holding off buying my new rig for 3 months just for this feature. I'm on 100% solar power and although I can still run my current rig that draws more power than a newer one will, any savings I can make are worthwhile (and give me more scope elsewhere).

    All the reading I did months ago suggested this chipset would deliver Hybrid Power with Intel CPU. What's the official word on this? If, as the nvidia page linked suggests, this chipset does not deliver this, what's next? When do we get it?
    Reply
  • Mr Roboto - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    I'm not the brightest crayon on the box when it comes to tech but couldn't a company just solder on a decent chip and forget this whole IGP nonsense? Like take an Nvidia 9500 or 9600 chip and solder it right on to the board along with 128MB DDR RAM. You'd have you're reasonable gaming performance without suffering through the 9300 which looks to be nothing extraordinary. Couldn't they cool it with standard HSF?

    Seems to be a lot of effort for little reward.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    There would be little room for it, unless you gave up say two slots. Chaintech did this years ago, cool motherboard, but ran very hot. Suffice to say, no one bothers with it anymore. You might as well just add the memory like side port but a seperate chipset and graphics chip? Only works well in laptops. Reply
  • Calin - Thursday, October 16, 2008 - link

    You're not saving so much money over a discrete video card (you still need everything a video card have), and you can't "upgrade" (yes, you can add another video card and disable the onboard one, but you can't have your cake and eat it too).
    Reply

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