Sunday, October 30th 2011

Are Improving Integrated Graphics Slowly Killing Off Discrete Graphics Cards?

Intel started the trend of improving integrated graphics with their second generation LGA1155 socket Core i3, i5 & i7 line of processors. Depending on the model, these processors sport integrated HD2000 or HD3000 graphics right on the processor die, which nowadays give acceptable performance for low-end gaming and can play Full HD 1080p video perfectly. This trend is increasing with the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors, which will be able to support a massive 4096 x 4096 pixel display, as we reported here. AMD now also have equivalent products with their Llano-based A-series processors. So, where does this leave discrete graphics cards? Well, the low end market is certainly seeing reduced sales, as there really isn't enough of a performance difference nowadays to always warrant an upgrade from an IGP. As integrated graphics improve further, one can see how this will hurt sales of higher end graphics cards too. The problem is that the bulk of the profit comes not from the top-end powerhouse graphics cards, but from the low to mid-end cards which allow these companies to remain in business, so cannibalizing sales of these products to integrated graphics could make high-end graphics cards a much more niche product and crucially, much more expensive with to boot.

Hence, it's not surprising to see that Digitimes are reporting that while NVIDIA are about to produce the next generation Kepler-based GPU's on TSMC's 28nm process and AMD have already started production of their Southern Islands-based GPU's, the graphics card manufacturers are cautious about jumping in head first with cards based on these new products. Taiwan-based card makers are watching the market before making decisions, according to Digitimes' industry sources:
Compared to the makers' eagerness for the previous-generation GPUs, graphics card makers are rather conservative about the upcoming 28nm chips due to concerns such as TSMC's weak 40nm process yield rate issues may re-occur in its 28nm process and weakening demand for graphics cards and lower-than-expected gross margins.
The poor 28nm yield rate isn't helping either:
Although previous rumors have indicated that TSMC's poor 28nm process yield rate could affect Nvidia's launch of its 28nm GPUs on schedule at the end of 2011, as TSMC already announced its 28nm process has entered mass production, Nvidia's new Kepler GPUs are expected to be announced in December.
All this of course, is bad news for PC enthusiasts, who are always looking to upgrade their PCs with the latest technology so that they can run power-intensive tasks on them, such as 3D gaming and distributed projects such as Folding@Home. On the plus side, a top-end card like a GTX 580 or HD 6970 will not be integrated into an IGP any time soon, because of the sheer power, heat and die size requirements, so there is still hope that affordable high-end cards will remain available.

What's interesting, is that as AMD are now a combined CPU & GPU company, they know full well that their IGP solutions eat into sales of their own discreet low to mid-end graphics cards. It will be worth watching AMD's strategy for dealing with this problem, closely.
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79 Comments on Are Improving Integrated Graphics Slowly Killing Off Discrete Graphics Cards?

#1
xBruce88x
the only way on-cpu igps could threaten dedicated would be if, say AMD, put the equivalent of an
HD6850 with 1GB vram at a minimum on chip with the cpu (with a die shrink of course) and provide a multi socket platform so ppl could do crossfire with their cpu's.
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#2
INSTG8R
I don't think it will ever effect the sale of high end GPU's If they got strong enough and clever enough to be used in tandem as a Hybrid Xfire/SLI situation I would welcome that.
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#3
Inceptor
I know that such stories are distressing to young (and not so young) PC gamers, but it's not unrealistic.
Integrated cpu graphics will probably take over the low end gpu market; there would be no reason for NV and AMD to crank out the analogues of anything lower than 560/6870, in future discreet gpu lines, if iGPGPUs develop as expected. I suggest that we expect the average price of discreet GPUs to increase.

Nvidia has its Tegra line of ARM processors where it can put its lower end GPU tech.
AMD has its APUs where lower end graphics work great.
Intel is improving its integrated graphics at a steady pace.

Discreet cards, at the low to low mid end, will disappear.
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#4
xBruce88x
high end gpu's will never be affected... only mainstream and lower, maybe...

edit: a better way to put it, no enthusiast level part will be affected by an all-in-one solution that can't be upgraded without replacing the whole unit.
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#5
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Judging by all the comments on here, it really brings home how much this is a "wait and see" situation. It really helps that high-end graphics performance requires heavy duty hardware and that games are always pushing the boundaries (unless they're console ports... :rolleyes:) of what's possible, to drive the technology forward.

And believe me, I have to write in the general sense in the news articles, but when I say "All this of course, is bad news for PC enthusiasts", I'm firmly including myself in this group. Can you imagine all PCs being reduced to the upgradeability and tweakability of an iPad? What horror! :eek:

And no, before I get flamed, I don't think it will get this bad. ;)
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#6
Damn_Smooth
Even if they were able to add high end graphics to an APU, they would still need to make something to Crossfire it with, so I'm not too worried.
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#7
xBruce88x
console ports brings another point... by the time the IGP can handle console ports at max detail flawlessly, a new gen of consoles will leap frog them just around the corner.
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#8
n-ster
Not on the desktop. CPU + GPU fusion is mostly benefit laptops. On desktops it is the replacement of IGP (it enables 1080p video to be viewed flawlesly etc and some games on low xD). For 100$ theses days you get such great cards... If you could used market, it can even mean a 5850 :eek:
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#9
jmcslob
I think many of you are mistaking piss poor code optimizations for the need of a discrete GFX card.
You're being ripped off and most of you don't realize it.
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#10
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
jmcslob said:
I think many of you are mistaking piss poor code optimizations for the need of a discrete GFX card.
You're being ripped off and most of you don't realize it.
Yes, that sounds very possible. I don't think anyone expects a modern game like BF3 to run properly on an IGP, regardless of code optimisation, but I believe your point is still valid.

I remember when I posted some benchmarks on here some time back showing 30-40% losses in framerates when going from XP to Vista or 7, how I got flamed for it by all those in denial. I can never understand why ordinary people like you and me, defend the big corps who are screwing us all, over the messenger that highlights these problems. :shadedshu
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#11
n-ster
jmcslob said:
I think many of you are mistaking piss poor code optimizations for the need of a discrete GFX card.
You're being ripped off and most of you don't realize it.
Most of us don't use discrete GFX and instead use the big boys
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#12
jmcslob
n-ster said:
Most of us don't use discrete GFX and instead use the big boys
Myself included....LOL
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#13
erocker
I use what fits my needs. Newer integrated GPU's can display 1080p video just fine. I don't believe this hurts discreet GPU's. People have needs, they choose the product that fits their needs. More powerful integrated GPU's is a good thing, I don't care if they're integrated or not, if they do the job, they do the job.
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#14
Yellow&Nerdy?
It won't happen any time soon, that I am sure of. Although I could see the mid-range market and laptops all having integrated graphics in a couple of years. If it will happen for the enthusiast/gaming section of the market, depends on the two development lines, software and hardware. If game designers keep on making new and improved game engines, then I don't think the integrated graphics technology can catch up. But who knows, by the time we get to 18nm graphics and DX12/13, we might all be running one chip instead of two.
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#15
Jstn7477
I coincidentally played with my SB's HD 3000 integrated graphics today before reading this thread, and they are really not that bad to be honest. I was able to play TF2 on medium settings at 1280*720 fluently at 60FPS, something that many of my friends wish their computers could actually do. Granted, in Furmark, the 5 FPS HD 3000 vs. my 52 FPS 6950 is a big difference, but to beat all the people who get 10-15 FPS in TF2 is huge.
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#16
HalfAHertz
I don't see why we'll need low-end stuff like GT520/530 & HD6450/6550 once APUs start appearing more often...
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#17
NC37
Jstn7477 said:
I coincidentally played with my SB's HD 3000 integrated graphics today before reading this thread, and they are really not that bad to be honest. I was able to play TF2 on medium settings at 1280*720 fluently at 60FPS, something that many of my friends wish their computers could actually do. Granted, in Furmark, the 5 FPS HD 3000 vs. my 52 FPS 6950 is a big difference, but to beat all the people who get 10-15 FPS in TF2 is huge.
Playing a game with an engine from 5+years ago does not mean they are good.

IGP will surpass discrete when and only when...IGPs can play modern current titles at high detail right out of the box. This means for AMD, pair your APUs with high mid range GPUs minimum. Then for Intel this means...just give up, you'll never be able to produce GPUs of this caliber. You are a good CPU maker but you lack the ability to make GPUs.
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#18
MilkyWay
APU and IGP will take the low to mid range market i bet but not any time soon. There is still a demand for an enthusiast market as long as developers continue to push boundaries.
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#19
CDdude55
Crazy 4 TPU!!!
HalfAHertz said:
I don't see why we'll need low-end stuff like GT520/530 & HD6450/6550 once APUs start appearing more often...
Lower end cards are still more powerful then the GPU component of an APU in most instances so those that want say a gaming system on a budget would/should pick from a lower end discrete GPU.
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#20
minigig
The only player here to get hurt is Nvida . Amd makes money either way its still there gpu in fact its cheaper for them to have it on die.

Intel only gains from having better IGPs.

Since Nvidia does not have cpu's they are the losers here on the lowend market.
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#21
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
CDdude55 said:
Lower end cards are still more powerful then the GPU component of an APU in most instances so those that want say a gaming system on a budget would/should pick from a lower end discrete GPU.
True, for now. I wonder how this will change once the (allegedly) potent IGP in Ivy Bridge is released? The various players in this market can have quite a few tricks up their sleeves, so I for one, am not making any predictions!
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#22
eidairaman1
Not Really at all actually, ya APUs are cool but Vid cards are easier to cram more performance into, Graphics cards have a specific purpose just like CPUs do, now for the APU- when a vid card is plugged in, that part of the APU should become a FPU.
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#23
GAR
Really? i mean really? cmon, i expected more from TPU, not articles like this.
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#24
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
GAR said:
Really? i mean really? cmon, i expected more from TPU, not articles like this.
Really? I expect better posts than this. How about you give an actual reasoned, thought out argument why it's so wrong. I'd really like to see it.

Let me help you by starting by reminding you that the sentiment doesn't come from me, but Digitimes which I linked to and the industry.
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#25
erocker
qubit said:
Really? I expect better posts than this. How about you give an actual reasoned, thought out argument why it's so wrong. I'd really like to see it.

Let me help you by starting by reminding you that the sentiment doesn't come from me, but Digitimes which I linked to and the industry.
Perhaps it has something to do with using news articles from other tech sites as news articles for this tech site. I really don't know, just an observation. However, I do know that this kind of conversation is best kept to the Comments and Feedback forum as it's really not on topic of the thread itself.
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