PC graphics firm claims big firms block innovation

Nvidia says large chip makers selling GPUs integrated with central processing units have sparked a "battle for the soul of the PC".

DUBAI. 9th March. 2009. Luciano Alibrandi, Director of Public Relations for NVIDIA with one of the company's graphic processing units  in Dubai yesterday(mon).  Stephen Lock  /  The National. FOR BUSINESS *** Local Caption ***  SL-nvidia-006.jpg
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DUBAI // A leading computer graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturer has accused giant chip makers such as Intel and the Abu Dhabi-backed AMD of stifling innovation in the industry. Nvidia says large chip makers selling GPUs integrated with central processing units (CPUs) have sparked a "battle for the soul of the PC". The regional public relations director at Nvidia, Luciano Alibrandi, said: "What is happening is they are trying to control their market. That's why it's tough at the moment, because we are coming up with a great solution, and Intel is saying 'Hey guys, don't use it. You don't really need it'.

"For us, they are trying to stop innovation. They are telling you that what you have is good enough. And we are telling you, for the same price why don't you get the best?" GPUs form part of graphics cards that allow computer users to, for example, play high-definition video or highly complex computer games. GPUs can process many tasks at the same time, while CPUs, the main "brains" of a computer, can only perform tasks in succession. In the past, they were sold separately.

Mr Alibrandi said the integration had some advantages in areas such as mobile technology. But he said it deprived users in other areas, such as high-definition or rapid video encoding, the process of transferring video from a computer to a device like an iPod. Mr Alibrandi said Intel's chips did not provide this function. Nvidia has traditionally been the market leader, holding 75 per cent of the market against its closest competitor, AMD, which entered the market by buying ATI, the second-ranked manufacturer of graphic processors.

But in recent months, as Nvidia concentrated on expanding its market into areas such as mobile devices and cars, AMD, which is partly owned by the Abu Dhabi Government's investment arm, Mubadala Development, has gained ground."ATI took some of the market share back," Mr Alibrandi said. "It was at the same time as the market slowdown." He looks at the current economic climate as an opportunity for innovation, particularly as computing becomes increasingly visual.

In the past, Mr Alibrandi said, computer makers would spend about 80 per cent of their processing money on CPUs and 20 per cent on GPUs. khagey@thenational.ae