Today sees the launch of the much anticipated 4870 X2card from AMD, a card outlining its new strategy regarding high-end GPUs. Instead of going for the single, monolithic GPU approach favoured by Nvidia, AMD is banking on its multi-GPU plan besting the green camp. And the 4870 x2 has indeed posted impressive results.
At the press launch of the then-codenamedR700 a couple of weeks back Ian McNaughton, head of the Product and Platform Team for Europe, was very outspoken in his beliefs about where AMD is heading and where Nvidia need to catch up.
"We have adopted the new technology, brought to market the newest technology and features that are available from our partners. Nvidia hasn't. In my opinion the marketplace hasn't been hard enough on them for not having 10.1. With the games coming out for 10.1 there are substantial performance increases.
"By the way guys, DX10.1 is free. Nvidia could've done it, but they chose to rob their customers of having DX10.1.
"There is no reason why Nvidia's not going to DX10.1 outside of sheer arrogance and robbing their customers, it's free guys. They have to go to 10.1 to get to DX11."
What did Nvidia have to say?
We spoke to Ben Berraondo, Product PR at Nvidia, who was more than happy to clarify its position on DX10.1. Since Microsoft's announcement of DX10.1, it had been in touch with developers through its 'The Way it's Meant to be Played' setup about the possibility of adding the new API to its hardware.
Apparently, most of the developers were hardly even planning on implementing DX10 due to the vast array of cross platform titles, let alone DX10.1. He used the example of Race Driver: GRID, a newish title that looks and plays amazingly and yet is still thoroughly DX9.
He did admit however that some developers asked for parts of the DX 10.1 API to be included. It has then implemented some parts of the newest DirectX in some of its new hardware, although not the full listing needed to enable the cards to be certified as DX10.1 parts. So while there is a certain demand for what DX 10.1 can offer, Nvidia is obviously confident that it has the important bits covered.
Does DX10.1 really matter?
Whether that will remain the case with AMD's claim that a whole host of full DX10.1 games are on their way has yet to be seen. AMD's senior PR manager, Jon Carvill, promised us that we are "going to see DX10.1 titles coming in the second half of the year and you're going to see them increase substantially in 2009."
Although we have yet to hear what titles are supposed to be supporting AMD's favourite API, we were told that companies such as EA, SEGA, Midway and Blizzard were on the verge of doing so.
As for DX11, Nvidia did say that developers were looking very closely at it given the next generation of consoles are likely to be based around that architecture; and did agree that it would have to make its DX11 cards compatible with DX10.1 due to the backwards compatibility of the future API.
Nvidia is unlikely to let its competitors take the reins when it comes to DX11 then, promising that it will have its supporting cards available before the API itself is released into the wild.
Still, AMD remain the only GPU developers to use the new standard in graphics memory with the 4870 and 4870x2 sporting GDDR5. So McNaughton is correct in terms of AMD being at the forefront of bringing the most new technologies to market, but as yet we still don't know whether its high end multi-GPU strategy will pan out in the long term compared to Nvidia's traditional monolithic approach. I guess we'll have to wait 'til tomorrow to find out...
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