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What Does the Future Hold for Integrated Graphics?

Mar 5 2009, 8:27am CST | by , in News | Hardware & Peripherals

What Does the Future Hold for Integrated Graphics?
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New research was published today by Jon Peddie Research (JPR) that claims integrated graphics will be gone by 2012, a mere three years from now. Integrated graphics is currently the most common type of graphics in notebook and many desktop computers.

Some higher end notebook computers have discrete graphics and many desktop systems have discrete graphics cards (discrete graphics cards are add in cards that fit into slots on the mainboard). The research claims that the integrated graphics processor held 67% of the graphics market in 2008, but the percentage will drop to only 20% in 2011 and less than 1% by 2013. That leaves the question, if integrated graphics that constitute the bulk of the market today are disappearing, what will replace them?

I see the future of graphics being with two products, discrete video cards that we know and love today and graphics integrated into the CPU. The latter of those, graphics built into the CPU is the reason that AMD bought ATI and likely the reason that it holds onto the graphics company despite the massive losses ATI is generating for AMD.

What we will see in the future is a multi-core CPU that perhaps uses one of the cores for graphics processing or a new line of CPUs that has the same cores we see today but adds an integrated graphics engine. These chips are still most likely to serve the basic graphics market.

Today we already see integrated graphics on notebooks getting a boost from discrete graphics cards. NVIDIA has a very good example of this when notebooks are equipped with an integrated GPU and a discrete graphics card. When the graphics demand from the notebook is low, the integrated part runs the show. Fire up a game or a video and the discrete GPU kicks in to give the power needed for smooth playback.

JPR believes that for a short period in the future there will be the integrated graphics we know now, discrete video cards, and processors with integrated graphics. Intel and AMD both have been talking about this type of processor for a while and Atom processors with integrated graphics are rumored to be on the Intel roadmap for its Atom line already. I don’t think the discrete GPU market will disappear anytime soon. It will continue to be in high demand for the enthusiast and power user segments of the market.

However, the basic notebook of the future will use a CPU with graphics built-in. I also expect some machines to offer discrete video cards as well as CPUs with graphics allowing low power consumption and high-performance at the same time like the solutions we have today with discrete and integrated GPUs on the same notebook.

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