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Historically end-users in communities requiring a number of monitors per one computer used rather expensive specially developed graphics cards. The situation changed when consumer graphics chips developers NVIDIA, Matrox and ATI Technologies unveiled their solutions with dual-display support in 1999 and 2000 – those products were substantially more affordable compared to professional graphics cards. Next year Intel will bring dual-monitor virtually for free for nearly every PC based on Intel’s next-generation chipset for desktop computers known under Grantsdale-G code-name.

Sources familiar with Intel’s plans report that Grantsdale-G provides a flexible and stable platform for corporate and consumer. Offered features include PCI Express x16 graphics port (PEG x16), Intel Extreme Graphics 3 – Intel’s third generation integrated graphics core, dual-channel DDR-II SDRAM, dual-monitor, 4 Serial ATA-150 ports, 4 PCI Express x1 ports and Azalia audio.

Earlier this year we learnt Intel’s next-year chipset hero Grantsdale-G will have hardware support for Pixel Shaders 2.0 in order to properly render GUI interface of Microsoft’s next-generation software peak code-named Longhorn. The Vertex Shaders 2.0 support will be probably carried out by Intel’s monstrous new Pentium 4 CPUs at stunning speeds.

Systems with two and more monitors are typically used by finance, engineering, design, media and some other communities for more efficient work. The market of professional 2D solutions (the majority of which support 2 or more monitors) is growing rather substantially. According to IDC, in the Q2 2003 it soared 17% quarter-over-quarter. NVIDIA is the top supplier of professional 2D solutions with 53% share, Matrox Graphics has the second spot with 19%, other companies – primarily ATI Technologies and Appian – occupy 28%.

Intel is currently the world’s largest supplier of graphics solutions. According to Mercury Research, it supplied 35% of all graphics products in Q3 2003, NVIDIA’s share was 25%, ATI’s – 22%, other providers of graphics products, such as VIA Technologies, Silicon Integrated Systems and Matrox Graphics had 9%, 8% and 1% parts of the market in that order.

In case Intel successfully addresses markets requiring two monitors per PC, it will greatly solidify its positions in the overall graphics market and may catalyse the use of dual-display configurations by more users. Even though the majority of today’s discrete graphics cards support two monitors, the Intel Extreme Graphics 3 will be probably a lot more cost-effective – a crucial peculiarity for a lot of customers who use integrated graphics now.

Officials from Intel did not comment on the report.

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