AMD's lead with DirectX 11 is 'insignificant,' Nvidia says

Nvidia brushed off the technology lead that rival Advanced Micro Devices built by releasing the first graphics chips to support DirectX 11, saying the release only gives AMD a short-term advantage that won't have a long-term effect on the graphics market.

The marginal advantage of beating Nvidia to market is overshadowed by wider changes in the graphics processing market, which is moving from just graphics processing to handling parallel computing tasks, said Michael Hara, senior vice president of investor relations and communications of Nvidia, at the Barclays Capital Global Technology Conference in San Francisco last week. Hara's remarks were carried online in a webcast.

"We go through revolutionary changes every three of four years, and that's exactly where we're at today. ...The next big evolution in the API world has come with DirectX 11 (DX11), but we believe that's a part of the experience," Hara said, adding that other technologies, including 3D stereo and physics, are also important.

DirectX 11 was introduced with the release of Windows 7 and includes several improvements over previous versions of the graphics programming technology, including tessalation for displaying smoother curved surfaces, support for multi-core processors, and DirectCompute, which allows developers to harness the parallel processing power of graphics chips for other tasks, such as video editing.

"To us, being out of sync with the API for a couple of months isn't as important as what we're trying to do in the big scheme of things for the next four or five years. We're just around the corner from preparing our next GeForce and the experience of what you'll see in 3D, what you'll feel in physics, and the improvements you get in graphics will be obvious to the market," he said.

Nvidia's upcoming GeForce chip, called Fermi, will support DX11. Nvidia has taken heat from observers over low Fermi production yields and a mock-up graphics board that the company showed off at its GPU Technology Conference on September 30. But Hara said the company would be vindicated when Fermi hits the market.

"This 60-day lag between these events of when our competition has DX11 and when we're coming to market will absolutely seem insignificant in the big picture," Hara said.

"We're almost there. ...In Q1, the world will get to see what we've done with Fermi," he said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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