MediaFile

Nvidia to Apple: thanks for the backhanded compliment

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Nvidia got some free publicity from Apple today. Well, sort of.

On Wednesday, its crosstown peer flashed a slide at the new iPad’s unveiling, briefly claiming that Apple’s A5X processor packed four times the graphics punch of Nvidia’s own next-generation Tegra 3. Nvidia product spokesman Ken Brown’s phone has been ringing off the hook since.

“People noticed. When Apple calls out your processor as the one to beat, it gets attention. We’ve gotten some questions about it,” he said.

“It almost looks like it’s a two-horse race between Apple and Tegra,” he added, deftly framing things in the best possible light for Nvidia.

The A5X chip boasts quad-core graphics and is twice as fast as the IPad 2, Apple claims.

For a company whose core business is not chips, Apple’s processors so far have more than held their own against processors used in other tablets. But precisely how it matches up against Nvidia or othe competing silicon has yet to be empirically and independently tested.

Tech wrap: EBay acts on Hunch

EBay said it acquired the data analysis firm Hunch to help it develop more recommendation technology for its online marketplace. Hunch analyzes data from social networks like Facebook and from questionnaires to make personal recommendations. EBay said Hunch will help it suggest relevant products for shoppers on its online marketplace. Chris Dixon, Tom Pinckney and Matt Gattis, who founded Hunch in 2009, will stay on at eBay and remain based in New York. The purchase price was not disclosed, although tech blog Uncrunched pegged it at around $80 million.

Hewlett-Packard reported quarterly revenue slightly better than Wall Street estimates, after the bell. The world’s largest technology company by sales said non-GAAP net revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter inched up 1 percent to $32.3 billion. Analysts had predicted revenue of $32.05 billion on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Retailers are saving some of their deepest discounts on Black Friday for video game products, with large chains Wal-Mart and Best Buy putting some rock-bottom prices tags on hot games to lure shoppers into stores. To accommodate pressured buyers, retailers are heavily discounting top games, from Electronic Arts’ “Battlefield 3,” to Warner Brothers’ “Batman: Arkham City,” and Microsoft’s “Gears of War 3.”

Nvidia’s power-efficient chips picked for supercomputer

In the latest challenge to Intel’s dominance of the PC and server industry, smaller chipmaker Nvidia is teaming up with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center to develop a supercomputer that will run on energy efficient ARM processors.

With the massive data centers that power the Internet consuming an ever increasing amount of electricity, energy efficiency is becoming a priority, and many companies are looking toward the technology behind our smartphones and tablets to do the job.

ARM Holdings’ chip architecture has come to dominate the mobile industry because its energy efficiency allows smartphone batteries to remain charged longer than Intel’s mobile processors, which are based on designs originally meant for powerful PCs.

Nvidia chips in with world’s most powerful computer

Nvidia, which got its start making processors for computer game enthusiasts, has won another victory for parrallel computing with the inclusion of its graphics chips in what is expected to be the world’s fastest supercomputer.

The Titan computer being built for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn should boast a record 20 petaflops of peak performance — that’s about 20 million billion math operations per second.

By the time it is complete in 2013, the computer will be driven by 18,000 Nvidia graphic processor units, or GPUs, along with an equivalent number of central processors made by rival Advanced Micro Devices.

Tech wrap: Blame game at HP

What is responsible for Hewlett-Packard’s bleak profit outlook? Ask CEO Leo Apotheker and he’ll blame it on “missed opportunities” in a troubled division under his predecessor Mark Hurd.

Apotheker, who took over in September, plans to spend heavily to revamp the beleaguered unit to focus on consulting, cloud computing and higher-margin businesses.

Dell reported profits that blew past Wall Street estimates and raised its fiscal 2012 outlook for operating income for fiscal 2012, sending shares in the No.2 PC maker up in after-hours trading.

CES: Nvidia’s Huang and the wireless curse

NVIDIA/Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’s plain-talking chief executive, may want to hit the blackjack tables while he’s in Las Vegas.

That’s because he’s already had his share of bad luck in Sin City while on stage for a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show.

About halfway through his presentation unveiling the company’s new Tegra 2 chip, Huang hit a snag when attempting to wirelessly connect to the Web to demonstrate the chip’s multimedia prowess. Huang pleaded with the audience to “spare” him some bandwidth according to media reports.

CES: HP demos Android smartbook

qualcommThe nascent smartbook market got a big nudge forward on Friday, courtesy of Hewlett-Packard, the world’s biggest personal computer maker.

Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP’s PC division, turned up on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show during a keynote address by Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs to demo a device based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip and running Google’s mobile Android software.

There was no formal product unveiling, but HP showed off a smartbook with multitouch capability, and Bradley spoke with apparent interest on the  category, which is just beginning to build steam.

A racier side to Nvidia CEO Huang

 Nvidia’s top executive isn’t your typical geek.  He likes fast computers, but he loves fast cars.

Jen-Hsun Huang , proud owner of no less than three barely street-legal supercars - red and grey Ferraris and a jet black Koenigsegg CCX — was on the brink of adding yet more horsepower to his stable after watching RTT demonstrate a Ferrari-customization program — running off Nvidia’s graphic chips, of course — onstage on Wednesday.

The unabashed racing car-lover joked that he had been enthralled by a Ferrari 458 Italia that popped up on screen during a demonstration by RTT chief executive Ludwig Fuchs. Fuchs, sharing the stage with Huang, demonstrated how Nvidia chips power his company’s customization platform, which allows would-be racers to configure a Ferrari to taste – color, interior, tires, the works – right on the showroom floor.

Netbook grows up, learns to play games

Slowly but surely, the netbook is growing up.

At first these sub-notebook machines were seen as weaklings. Now Nvidia Corp, which makes computer graphics cards, has teamed up with Lenovo to offer its second “ion” Netbook, following an announcement last month with Acer.  Nvidia’s suggestion for computer makers is to soup up the low-powered Intel Atom chips which run netbooks by combining them with Nvidia graphics cards.

The new product, the Lenovo IdeaPad S12, is touted by the companies as having the long life of Netbooks, but the quick graphics performance of Nvidia chips. It has a 12-inch screen and a keyboard, which puts it closer in size to the average laptop than to the average netbook.  Of course, the machine is priced closer to a low-powered laptop than it is to a traditional netbook, at $499 (if netbooks, being of such recent vintage, can be characterized as traditional).

The machine is said to run video games and other applications that usually can only limp along on a normal netbook. It runs all recent versions of Windows and will show high-definition Blue-ray movies.

AMD’s ATI breaks 1Ghz barrier — for real?

In the highly demanding (and some say shrinking) world of PC gaming, only two graphics powers really count: reigning popular champ Nvidia and AMD’s ATI division. Now it looks like ATI’s Radeon may have got a bit of a lead on its arch-foe.

ATI, once considered a perennial also-ran to Nvidia’s cutting-edge graphics chips, has become the first to crack what it called the 1 Gigahertz barrier on standard air-cooling. Pounding its chest, the company trumpeted on Wednesday the milestone and talked about “amazing gaming experiences” for the likes of Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. and Electronic Arts’ Battleforge.

It would be interesting to see how Nvidia — whose logo still appears more often alongside cutting-edge games such as medieval third-person actioner Assassin’s Creed to blockbuster first-person shooter Crysis — will respond in their never-ending arms race.