2.12.2007

ATI Kung Fu better than Nvidia?


Who would have thought that ATI’s Catalyst would yield the best video experience for Microsoft Vista? I must admit I saw it coming – ATI has been working on Vista for some time now, and somehow they managed to trump the competition in a big way.

What I’m saying here is no secret – and I would have written about this sooner, but I wanted to give Nvidia the benefit of the doubt. I’m not one to hide the truth from my customers, and the truth is that ATI’s drivers are ahead of the game, and there’s no real explanation as to how or why Nvidia missed a step… or is there?

Nvidia has been touting the world’s only DX10 compliant solution for Vista. ATI cannot say the same, at least not until their next generation is launched. I suspect that Nvidia has been working feverously trying to release a working DX10 candidate for their 8800 series of cards.

That said, I still don’t have SLI working on my personal machine and I am less than pleased. Today I had my OMEN ripped apart and I decided to choose Crossfire. Normally I would never make such a harsh decision, but after evaluating ATI’s Vista drivers for some time the decision was effortless. I also have an HP 30” display on my desk with a 2560x1600 resolution, so dual graphics is a must to deliver the ultimate gaming experience.

ATI has done a killer job of designing the Catalyst control panel for Vista. It’s a much lighter weight version of Catalyst than what we’re used to. One could probably assume that ATI’s tight support for Vista may have a significant market ripple somewhere down the line – but that’s just a guess.

All that said, I hope Nvidia picks up the pace. The last time Nvidia missed a major step was shortly after the original XBOX was released. They created a new card called the GeForce FX 5800 and it was a total disaster, ATI just skated by as a result. I don’t believe this is a major misstep, but it’s certainly a misstep. Assuming Nvidia prioritized DX10 support over their existing install base of DX9 is a decision that I cannot explain.

So could this flip flop spike a major change in demand? Well, that’s probably a stretch – and I haven’t lost confidence in Nvidia’s ability to deliver a working driver yet. I certainly don't think this is a case of "BADD" - it's more like bad timing.

Then again, I have high hopes for ATI’s next generation R600 – and for the first time in a long time I think ATI should be feared. I’m thinking the R600 might be a monster.

Here are some interesting links from Trentent;

Nvidia driver discussions:
Where are my NVIDIA Drivers for Vista?
TG Daily's Nvidia Opinion

ATI fans rejoice:
ATI's Drivers Rock

...and for a comparison

10 comments:

Robert said...

The key here is how well are AMD and ATI going to integrate. There is no doubt in my mind that ATI has the better technology.

The question is will ATI benefit from the AMD resources and take advantage of all the R&D benefits, or, will they get bogged down in bureaucratic processes and the establishment new goals that may not align with their goals prior to the acquisition.

Bryan said...

My own thought here with Vista isn't so much an ATI/nVidia deal as a glimpse at what Microsoft's vision (pun... or not?) for the future.

If you observe this last year. AMD goes out of its way to purchase ATI. An unusual match to say the least at that time. At first I thought it was purely a predatory move against Intel given that years IDF showcasing ATI's crossfire.

In hindsight I should have paid more attention to the XBox360. This was the platform Microsoft was developing their ideas for DX10. In fact connecting the dots between Microsoft, IBM, to AMD isn't too hard. I wouldn't be the least surprised if somewhere along the lines Microsoft is planning to provide the complete "solution" to the corporate world (a la IBM of yesteryear)

As much as I have been a fan of Microsoft's in the past (yes I was one of those that ran NT 3.1) and have been a huge supporter of the .Net framework I just can't keep myself from being turned off by their choices with Vista.

Its possible that nVidia totally got a case of BADD as you have mentioned but its hard for me to believe they fell THAT far behind the eight ball. They've made mistakes in the past, but nothing to the scale that this could end up being.

pv said...

Dude, to compare G80's lack of vista whql driver to nv30 is just wrong. The vista driver will be here in a couple weeks. nv30 was a total dog that no driver could help. G80 is a damn fine architecture, both in image quality and in performance, momentarily limited on vista by whql issues.

Anonymous said...

Rahul said: "and there’s no real explanation as to how or why Nvidia missed a step… or is there?"

I have no idea why Nvidia didn't get their Vista drivers done.

All I can think of is that Nvidia thought Microsoft would *never* finish Vista - 'cause that's how I felt! ;)

mitodna said...

It is not a BADD but nVidia is trying to catch up mobile/phone chipset and maybe a x86 license as well,

nVidia may launch CUDA for VISTA and/or G80 Vista driver on R600 launch too

the real BADD is Creative Vista Driver,

Anonymous said...

Now I look forward to ATI's competitive Linux drivers. Until that happens I still have more confidence in nVidia.

Surya said...

Shut up with the Linux drivers. This was all about Vista and its drivers. Where the heck do you get Linux in the picture?

Wise lnvestor said...

Rahul, this is a bad case of MADD.

Materialistic Arrogance Developmental Disorder. Meaning companies, like nvidia and creative, will try to ship as much hardware they can and as fast as they can.

After all it's the hardwares that makes money. So software is often neglected. I have a creative SB live from Y2K, but the latest driver is from feb 2003.

That put it 3 years of support cycle. Feels like they are forcing me to buy new hardware instead of providing real support.

The same goes for nvidia MB and gpu. They want you to spend your money!!!

I know you're a man who's good at creating new words. So I'll leave you with the word MADD.

BTW the nvidia ad sticker(Vista essential) ring a bell? Yup, nvidia strongly encourage you to upgrade to a DX10 card.

Athena Twin PMS said...

Wow, I can't wait to see how Vista looks and feels! And I have always loved ATI!

*leaves shaking fist at the mean Gods that have not gifted her with Vista yet*

Athena Twin PMS said...

ATI FTW!