Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Unhealthy Partnerships Plague the Graphics Industry

Filed under

If I were to buy a graphics card today, I would have little choice but to go with either ATI or NVIDIA. To break down my buying decision, I would probably consider the card's features, the novel (and pointless in certain cases) concept of future proofing, price and performance in games that I want to play. Everything sounds so clear-cut, doesn't it? I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but picking a graphics card is not an easy task these days. I can probably list a few reasons as to why my thinking runs that way, but chances are you are already aware of them. Therefore, I am going to focus this column on special relationships between the game developers and the graphics card makers.

The thing with today's graphics cards from both manufacturers is that they will perform quite well in latest games; so going with either brand isn't a tough choice anymore. For many of you, either NVIDIA or ATI will do just fine, but those of us who want to play games like Doom III or Half-Life 2, the companies have just made our lives more complicated than they already are.

For arguments sake, say you are building a computer. You know you will play Doom III extensively and maybe even think about Half-Life 2 in the future. In order to make up your mind, you will probably visit a few online publications to get a feel for performance differences between ATI and NVIDIA cards in the aforementioned titles. The problem is that when you look at the various performance numbers, the performance crown can go either way. And quite logically, a faster ATI card will outperform a slower NVIDIA card and vice versa, but things completely take turn for the worse when it comes to performance between Doom III and Half-Life 2. Shockingly, performance numbers between the two cards may be completely upside down. In certain scenarios, a mid-end NVIDIA card will beat ATI's high-end card in Doom III. The same thing happens in Half-Life 2; the only difference is that the winner is ATI and NVIDIA takes the backseat.

As long as the competition is healthy and consumers are benefiting from it, I think all this is perfectly fine. When you and I are feeling hassled by these wacky performance results, for which the card manufacturers and game developers share blame, then all of this gets quite irritating. After all, performance testing is supposed to help us make up our minds, not confuse us with upside down results in certain titles.

Now, lets say your goal is to play Half-Life 2 and Doom III. Which card should you go for?


More in Tux Machines

Containers, the GPL, and copyleft: No reason for concern

Though open source is thoroughly mainstream, new software technologies and old technologies that get newly popularized sometimes inspire hand-wringing about open source licenses. Most often the concern is about the GNU General Public License (GPL), and specifically the scope of its copyleft requirement, which is often described (somewhat misleadingly) as the GPL’s derivative work issue. One imperfect way of framing the question is whether GPL-licensed code, when combined in some sense with proprietary code, forms a single modified work such that the proprietary code could be interpreted as being subject to the terms of the GPL. While we haven’t yet seen much of that concern directed to Linux containers, we expect more questions to be raised as adoption of containers continues to grow. But it’s fairly straightforward to show that containers do not raise new or concerning GPL scope issues. Read more

Get ready to use Linux containers

One of the most exciting things to happen in the Linux world in the past few years is the emergence of containers — self-contained Linux environments that live inside another OS and provide a way to package and isolate applications. They're not quite virtual systems, since they rely on the host OS to operate, nor are they simply applications. Dan Walsh from Red Hat has said that on Linux, "everything is a container," reminding me of the days when people claimed that everything on Unix was a file. But the vision has less to do with the guts of the OS and more to do with explaining how containers work and how they are different than virtual systems in some very interesting and important ways. Read more

Samsung unveils 860 PRO and EVO SATA SSDs with improved Linux compatibility

If you haven’t yet upgraded your operating system drive from a mechanical hard disk to a solid state drive, you are really missing out. Prices have dropped dramatically over the years, while at the same time, reliability has improved. Swapping an HDD for an SSD can be very easy too, thanks to cloning software that often comes with the drive. Before you buy some random SSD, please know that they are not all the same. True, SATA models largely have equal speeds these days, but the brand really matters from a reliability standpoint. If you want a dependable solid state drive for your data, you should take a look at Samsung. Its offerings are top notch, and today the company launches its newest SATA models -- the 860 PRO and EVO. Read more

DLP platform for 3D vision teams up with Raspberry Pi

Keynote Photonics has launched a $499 “LC3000G2-Pi” light-steering and 3D vision add-on for the Raspberry Pi, and will soon ship a “LC3000G2-PRO,” which similarly offers TI’s DLP3000 chipset, but runs TI Lightcrafter APIs on its own DM365-based Linux board. Texas Instruments’ Linux-driven DLP (digital light processing) technology was originally launched as a projection technology, and is still primarily used for projection applications ranging from pico projectors you can plug into your laptop to advanced digital cinema projection machines. Yet, the technology is increasing moving into machine vision. Read more