Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia each announced a number of new graphics processing units during the CeBIT 2009 conference in Europe March 3, as the two companies look to maintain their positions in the increasingly competitive graphics market.
For its part, AMD released two new 40-nanometer graphics processors, the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4860 and the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4830.
On the same day, Nvidia also made a big graphics-processing announcement, as it rolled out a new lineup of notebook GPUs, including GeForce GTX 280M and 260M GPUs "for enthusiast notebooks," and GeForce GTS 160M and 150M GPUs for "high-performance, sleek notebooks."
The rollouts come at a time when computer graphics chip shipments are down thanks to the recession. In the fourth quarter of 2008, total GPU shipments dropped by 35 percent from the previous quarter, with a report from Jon Peddie Research predicting that the slump will continue through the end of second quarter 2009.
Recently, Nvidia managed to swipe a few points of market share from stalwarts Intel and AMD, although AMD's ATI graphics business has increased its share in the desktop segment.
As competition for market share gears up, AMD is clearly hoping to target those who need high-end graphical processing power for either work or play. The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4860 and HD 4830 will feature 3-D engines derived from its own ATI Radeon HD 4800 desktop series architecture with support for Microsoft DirectX 10.1 APIs, according to the company.
The upcoming Asus K notebook will be among the first laptops to feature the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4860.
"People now decidedly prefer mobile PCs, and innovations like this 40-nm mobile GPU show AMD is uniquely positioned to make the best entertainment experiences of desktop PCs possible in a notebook," Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager of AMD's Graphics Products Group, said in a statement.
Nvidia is also claiming that its new products represent a major leap forward.
Specifically, the company asserts that the GeForce GTX 200M and GeForce GTS 100M Series GPUs will offer 50 percent faster frame-rates than the company's previous-generation processors. Both these GPUs support Nvidia's CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) programming language, which allows application developers to program a GPU like a CPU.
Nvidia also announced that its GeForce GPUs would be integrated into Apple's Mac lineup. The new versions of Apple's iMac and Mac mini will include the GeForce 9400M GPU, with the 24-inch iMac offering the option of a GeForce GT 120 or GT 130 GPU.
Apple's new Mac Pro will come equipped with the Nvidia GeForce GT 120 with 512 MB of GDDR3 (graphics double data rate 3) memory.