Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.
Goodbye graphics cards
When AMD purchased graphics-card maker ATI, it was a fairly obvious step for the pair to start working on a hybrid of the CPU and graphics processing unit (GPU).
What is it?
While GPUs get tons of attention, discrete graphics boards are a comparative rarity among PC owners – 75 percent of laptop users stick with integrated graphics, according to Mercury Research. Reasons include the cost of buying a separate card, the hassle of installation and its drain on the battery. Putting graphics functions on to the CPU eliminates these issues.
Chip makers expect the performance of such on-die GPUs to fall somewhere between that of today's integrated graphics and standalone graphics cards. Eventually, their performance could catch up and make separate graphics cards obsolete.
When is it coming?
Intel's Nehalem chip includes graphics processing, but it isn't part of the actual CPU die. AMD's Swift, the first product in its Fusion line, reportedly takes the same design approach, and is currently on track for 2009.
Putting the GPU directly on the same die as the CPU presents challenges – heat being a major one – but that doesn't mean those issues won't be worked out. Intel's Nehalem follow-ups, Auburndale and Havendale, both slated for late 2009, may be the first chips to put a GPU and a CPU on a single die. Intel hasn't confirmed this, though.
NEXT PAGE: Recharge without wires
- Analysis: the future of the PC revealed
- A groundbreaking new circuit
- 32-core computing
- 64bit computing with more RAM
- Windows 7 – inevitably
- SuperSpeed USB
- Goodbye graphics cards
- Recharge without wires
- Gesture recognition
- Curtains for DRM
- The Google PC
- Your fingers do even more walking
- Mobile-phone ticketing
- Location, location, location