On the discrete note, Fermi isn't that bad of an architecture, it just took too long to get here. I have a 470 which can chew up anything I throw at it, and contrary to what most people tell me (including the Sales Associate who sold me the card - he tried to talk me out of it) it doesn't run supernova on air cooling.
Its just all too little too late. I was already well sick of waiting for the cards to debut months before they hit shelves, and while I was enthusiastic about getting some new hardware it kind of fell off the radar until the day I walked by it on the shelf. So while it outbenches the 5000 series in tessellation, it was just another upgrade. "w00t, I can plug two more monitors in!", not "w00t new card!".
I think NVIDIA needs to break back into the chipset business. Regardless of the flaming, ION is a pretty successful platform and integrated NVIDIA chipsets were not (always) total sh!t. I think it is going to be hard for the company to break in to AMD and Intel chipsets - Intel + NVIDIA is a bittersweet marriage between two companies which really don't like eachother but need to compete with the company that now does both (AMD) rather than real drive to get the competitive edge.
NVIDIA needs one of the following:
-Come out with an AmazingCard™ that blows everyone away before any competitor can react, let up on the rebranding
-Somehow, get back onto AMD and Intel boards. Buy Lucid or something, find a way in. I guarantee AMD + Intel are holding that door shut.
-Get their own x86 action going on, and graduate from a graphics chipset manufacturer to a chipset manufacturer.
I think #3 is their long term ticket to success, if they can release something well designed and competitive. Ultimately it is contributing the the stagnation of chip progress (x86 blows chunks) but it would probably save the company from the Voodoo fate. #2 would also work well if they can get AMD+Intel to open the floodgates, but #1 isn't happening with their current business model. Their life raft right now is the 460.
Maybe something else will happen, I don't know. Maybe OpenGL and DirectX will die in favor of raytracing, and then it wont matter how much anyone rebrands.
I think Nvidia's long-term problem is the decline of the PC gaming market; if most PC gamers are playing Farmville rather than 'Super Whizzbang Shooter 23' that requires the world's fastest graphics card, then there's no need for a gaming card. Of course if most people are playing Farmville rather than SWS23, then Microsoft are going to be in big trouble too, since Farmville runs on any OS with a Flash plugin.
I remember the nForce2 being a very good and successful chipset back in the good old days before cpu makers stopped licensing their proprietary bus interfaces. It's too bad there is no chance of more competition in the chipset market right now.
That could have happened if it wasn't for intel's anti-competitive actions.Ah.... 2005-2006. AMD really had a shot at flipping that graph in 2006 with their AMD64 line.
I may be wrong, but I remember reading at the time that AMD was selling every single CPU they could produce, and I'm sure I remember some OEMs complaining that they couldn't get enough AMD chips.
intel paid AMD a billion just to drop the cases about Intel's shady practices. And the EU and FTC are still going after Intel. Intel played dirty. Very, very dirty.
And Nvidia's x86 dreams? Will become a nightmare if they ever release such a chip. There are licences hold by AMD, Intel, VIA and NATSEMI. And then there are patents, hold by the same four. Nvidia doesn't have either.
PS: I still use an nForce2 motherboard on a small server nachine. I really miss more choice in the chipset business. ION2 is probably a no-no on linux due to it using optimus. Anyone tried this?
It isn't just Intel that is shady- the integrity of the whole industry is almost beyond repair. I don't see any architecture competition in the desktop industry- and I don't see any competition in the high performance workstation area either. You used to see SPARC and POWER boxes all over the place, now nothing but x86.
There's hope in ARM- ARM looks like it could displace x86 with a few more nudges. Unfortunately there is almost as much of a patent hold on that architecture as x86- the key difference being the main patent holder isn't actually putting out chips.