Well we are here at Computex, and the buzz surrounding NVIDIA and DX9 [particularly Half-Life 2] hasn’t let up. As a matter of fact, it is the hot topic of many under the table talks between video card manufacturers and their respective customers. Our latest mobile look into the latest and greatest for NVIDIA and ATI didn’t leave much room for argument on the DirectX 9 front. Meanwhile, the industry buzz is still debating about who has legitimate claim in this controversy. There are suggestions that ATI and Valve have been conspiring, and Valve specifically coded their image quality paths to ATI hardware. This is really hard to validate since there are other DX9 games that show similar [though with less intense margins] results between NVIDIA and ATI hardware.

Due to all of this we turn back to the concept of our Forum articles: basically, inquiring about the thoughts and opinions of various manufacturers anonymously. While Half-Life 2 may be centralized toward the American market, DX9 is a concern for consumers, manufacturers, and programmers worldwide. Consumers are less likely to buy a certain graphic solution should he or she know that image quality and rendering abilities are inferior of its competitor. Those that have already chosen the “unfavorable” graphics solution will likely then be alienated. Manufacturers, therefore, are directly effected due to sales [or lack of] relating to the limitations of a graphic solution, in this case NDIVIA and ATI. Programmers, as we noted before, are frustrated on two different levels. First is the topic of resources, typically, developers have an optimal frame per second range, which they try to hit on all graphic solutions. Regardless of the reasons behind it, ATI and NVIDIA graphic processing parts can’t hit the same frame per second range in an intensive image quality game, at least for now. This means that to keep up to par with the competition, developers have resorted to coding special code paths for these frames per second ranges to be hit. Obviously, this means image quality settings need to be lowered and this directly points to our second conundrum: consumers not being able to enjoy the full DX9 experience the way the developer intended. Programmers are artists, and for this reason; they hate to see their effort and artistic talent go to waste. On the other hand, they also understand that not creating a special code path could possibly lead to low sales or even undercutting them.

At Computex, we have had to chance to sit down and chat with a few tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3 video card manufacturers, all of which have given some interesting comments on the fiasco bubbling around the industry. First of all, the majority [regardless of which graphic solution they produce] have told us that they believe that ATI is not cheating. They believe that if NVIDIA requires certain questionable optimizations in their drivers and ATI does not all while still leading benchmarks, the consumer is going to catch on very fast about who they should choose for their next graphics solution purchase. Additionally, most of these manufacturers are sure that this will play out very soon. We have been informed by manufacturers that NVIDIA was back in Taiwan about 3 weeks prior to Computex, to supposedly answer for their actions and reassure consumers. This was strategic move an anticipation of AquaMark 3 and Half-Life 2 benchmarks that were going to pop up soon. The basic content of the discussion between NVIDIA and their respective manufacturers were to reassure them that they were doing fine and to expect everything fixed with newer and better drivers. However, those traditionally considered NVIDIA strongholds told us that they are seriously discussing the possibilities of ATI internally. Despite this, it seems that the executive management of such companies have decided to wait and see what fully materializes from the controversy, basically, if NVIDIA can deliver on these promises. If they can’t, they risk alienating the manufacturers, which they partnered with. On the other hand, choosing ATI means competition almost against one’s self, because ATI also sells their brand of cards. Much of these topics still need to be addressed. The war on NV4x and R4xx is still a ways off from duking it out. Only one thing is for sure, the heat has been kicked up a notch, and now we will wait for the ensuring battle fog to clear.

Where is my Mobility Radeon 9600?
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  • virtualgames0 - Sunday, September 28, 2003 - link

    in reply to #5..

    since when did FF have good graphics? ;)
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 25, 2003 - link

    I've bought more video cards then I would like to count (or could). I remember when it was 3DFX vs Nvidia and so on, markets switch every once in awhile but from what I can see from market share and production power NVIDIA isn't down for the count, nither will they let themselves lose out with their next set of video cards. I see the FX technology like I see SSE, if a game isn't programed for it, it doesn't get used. EAgames and Nvidia are buddy buddy right now which allows them to program the FX codepath, which is nice when I am playing C&C Generals: Zero Hour. DirectX 9? I remember when directx was not even an issue, it was all about Glide, OpenGL and the like. Why isn't anyone asking if DirectX 9 is really the answer to all our problems. I have a hard time beliving that Microsoft could outclass some of the technologies that Nvidia or even ATI produce. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 25, 2003 - link

    On the 1st page:

    It's OPTIMAL, not OPTICAL

    From the 2nd paragraph:
    First is the topic of resources, typically, developers have an optical frame per second range, which they try to hit on all graphic solutions.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    #9 That's the thing, both the P-M and the Radeon are pretty power efficient. Especially in comparison to the "desktop replacement" systems and should offer killer performance to boot. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    I think Nvidia will recover but the good thing about this is Nvidia has been humbled and now they know that next time they better put up a real effort or totally lose in the videocard market. I bet the NV40 will be fast and good it has to they have no choice but to kick ATIs arse or lose face. I am glad ATI is doing well, we all win with competition. I will hold on to my 4600 till HL2 and D3 arrive and see what is left after the dust clears Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    You might not have to wait too long #8.
    None of the spec parts are state of the art, but putting them all together in one manageable package with even average battery life does pose a challenge.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    I'm still waiting for someone to come out with *THE* notebook setup:

    Pentium-M
    Mobility Radeon 9600
    17" LCD
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, September 22, 2003 - link

    (Sigh) The next round between ATI and Nvidia will be ATIs win yet again. It seems the NV38 will still be using the exceedingly huge fans that take up one PCI slot. And lets face it folks, when your product is beat, drivers can only do so much.
    I wont even discuss the mobile market because that is pretty much self explainatory. ATi wins their as well.
    This market is becoming rather boring now and incredibly predictable. Im setting my sights on NV40 and R400 where Nvidia hopefully makes a comeback. Its become too one-sided at this point.

    Happily gaming on a Radeon 9500 pro =)
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, September 22, 2003 - link

    #5, That's the LCD screen refresh not being able to keep up. Reply
  • Dasterdly - Monday, September 22, 2003 - link

    Looky at that bigger picture of that laptop, FFIX looks like crap the tree's are cut off and pasted over a bit. YUK Reply

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