September 14, 2010

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AMD Event in the St. Regis Hotel

Last Thursday I received an email from one of AMD’s PR firms, inviting me to an event at the St. Regis hotel in San Francisco. It was short notice (as the event was on Monday), but it was only a block from the office, so I figured what the heck. I know they have my information because they invited me to, and I attended, the “AMD Experience on the USS Hornet” which was… damn cool.

The USS Hornet was a press event, whereas yesterday’s gathering was a small schmoozing event with suits. While it was nice to be invited, and cool to go, it wasn’t all that interesting for me. It’s just not really my scene.

Mostly they were showing off their new mobile technologies, and one large 6 screen display powered by their 5870 (which had been unveiled at the USS Hornet event). They had two demonstrations that I caught. The first was City Of Heroes: Going Rogue. I thought that was a random and amusing game to pick for demonstration. Of all the MMOs they could have used… City of Heroes?

The second demonstration, which was rather nifty, was HTML5 rendering under the IE9 preview. Sure there were some colorful tech demo bits showing swirly colors spinning really fast (and smoothly) on the AMD APU chip, but who cares? The really cool piece was showing off the Amazon Bookshelf which ran SUPER fast on the AMD chip, and (again) really smoothly – whereas of course the Intel chip sucked.

None of this really surprised me, after all Intel integrated GPUs are slow. They’ve always been slow. Basically you’re getting a 3D graphics unit that will render your no-frills OS at an acceptable level. They aren’t designed for games or 3D graphics, and they never have been. Of course the AMDs are way uber. Now, I’ll be impressed if they can get those amazingly powerful little units into laptops as the “cheap integrated” replacements, without raising the cost.

Of course, if integrated GPUs weren’t so terribly embarrassing, people would have a lot less compelling reason to upgrade to a “real” GPU.