Articles: Graphics

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Over the past few years Intel successfully managed to remain a convincing leader in the CPU market. New solutions from this manufacturer not only continue conquering new performance heights, but also become the pioneers in bringing new technologies to the market. The launch of Westmere processors that happened in early 2010 and included desktop Clarkdale and mobile Arrandale solutions also wasn’t an exception. These dual-core processors have undoubtedly brought mainstream desktop and mobile systems to a new level. But besides that, they also changed the traditional vision of the architecture of such platforms. Of course, we shouldn’t forget that the arrival of Clarkdale and Arrandale processors also signified the coming of Nehalem microarchitecture into the mainstream price segment and the use of 32 nm process for mainstream solutions production. But the most intriguing innovation was the first use of an integrated graphics core in CPUs for mainstream desktop systems. Until now only chipsets or special processors designed for specific mobile devices could boast an integrated graphics core inside. Intel, however, went further and announced a completely new standard: from now on integrated graphics should become an inalienable part of low-end and mainstream processors and stay out of the discrete graphics cards’ way only in high-performance gaming and professional systems.

Obviously, by moving the graphics core inside the CPU, over time Intel could seriously increase their already substantial graphics market share, which is currently already exceeding 50%. Due to the fact that now users will get a “free” graphics core together with a CPU, many of them may refrain from purchasing an additional stand alone graphics accelerator altogether. Especially, since Intel’s graphics solutions are quite fit for many mainstream tasks including high-definition video playback acceleration and a wide range of casual games. Trying to stress these particular advantages, Intel has even given up the Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) name, which they have been using for years: the new graphics core being a part of Clarkdale and Arrandale processors is now called Intel HD Graphics. This way the manufacturer emphasizes the fact that the current core is targeted for media centers and home theater PCs, but also addresses the gaming fans’ needs.

Westmere processors are designed not only for desktop PCs. Intel is also offering them as part of their new mobile platform. Therefore, no wonder that the new GPU has been seriously optimized for mobile applications. For example, Intel HD Graphics supports special technologies aimed at reducing the power consumption and increasing the battery life while maintaining the same high performance level.

In order to get a taste of all the advantages the new Intel HD Graphics core in Westmere processors has to offer, we performed a detailed investigation and test session addressing media and 3D capabilities of the new GPU. It will allow us to better understand in what cases new Clarkdale and Arrandale processors can really save you the need to buy an additional graphics accelerator.

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