The graphics cards that obtain unbelievable feats on paper, and on the monitors they display their eye candy on, have come very far from what the originally used to be. Before they were used to display amazing graphics, they displayed very simple data and application interfaces to very limited individuals. The first big boom in the graphical world began in the late 1970s when video shifters and video address generators were invented. With these devices the incoming data stream was converted into serial bitmapped video output (definitely a mouthful); which included luminance, color, and vertical/horizontal screen positioning. One of the first graphics cards ever made was the Pixie video chip (CDP1861); which could output an NTSC video signal with a resolution of 62x128, and trust me that is nowhere near our HD 1080p to now 4K UHD that we have this day and time. A year after the Pixie video chip was released, the TIA was developed and featured in the first game system to feature a graphical display; which was the Atari 2600.
Moving on to more modern graphics cards there were two main companies that produced and competed with very similar but non-similar products. NVidia; which is still around this day and time had many lines of graphics cards along with many different technologies they created to supplement their cards. They developed many graphics integrations like SLI bridging, physX, CUDA, optiX, G-sync, and multiple anit-aliasing technologies. These and many more graphics integrations were a major stepping stone for NVidia to create their graphics empire. ATI, which is known for their Radeon graphics line was bought out by AMD in 2006. Before they were acquired by AMD, they also developed a few graphics technologies that were the answer to NVidias integrations at the time. Some of these graphics integrations were Mobility Radeon, power-play, and CrossfireX. Even though these technologies worked very efficiently, they were no match to the growth rate of NVidias. From my personal experience building my own custom rig back during the time period of ATI, I can remember that the Radeon cards were always released soon after the GeForce cards and were double or even triple the performance of them. If that had to do with the ATI accessing Nvidias cards before release, I do not completely know. I do know that when Nvidia released their SLI technology for bridging two or three graphics cards together for performance enhancements, that later on they discovered 3-way SLI was not scalable and was a step backwards when they put more high performance (Top Tier) cards together. When that was discovered I do recall ATI releasing their answer to SLI; which was CrossfireX, and it would only allow you to bridge two of their graphics cards together and no more. The fact that ATI was always in the shadow of NVidia and their rapid development of graphics technology may have been a factor in why AMD bought out ATI. Doing a little research I found a quote from Charlie Demerjian; who was analyzing the merger and he stated From what we gather, thats unrelated to the AMD buy. ATI chipsets were a stop gap to cover Intels demand forecasting woes, and since that rough spot has been covered, well, ATI was on the way to being discarded anyway. No market loss there. This leads me to believe that ATI was already on the downhill of their graphics development, and they needed a buy out to keep going as company.
NVidia was founded by three people in the spring of 1993, and those three people consisted of Jen-Hsun Huang, Chris Malachowsky, and Curtis Priem. In 1999 they released their first graphics card called the GeForce NV10; which introduced on-board transformation and lighting for 3D hardware. Due to their success NVidia was granted the contract to develop the graphics for the first Microsoft console; which was the original Xbox. Over the next few years they began to broaden their technology and released numerous lines of high-end graphics card lines starting with the GeForce 256 series and moving on to the GeForce 2 through 9 series. These cards were developed along with the implementation of Microsoft DirectX, and the GeForce 9 series ended with being able to support up to DirectX 10; which is still very impressive graphics to this day. The next series they moved onto was the GeForce 100 series; which made its way to the 900 series in Q3 of 2015 and fully supported DirectX 11 and lightly supported DirectX 12. This was an end of an era for graphics cards, and the beginning of a huge technology break through when they released the GeForce Titan X. This was the monster of all graphics cards, and broke many graphics records that have not been exceeded to this day. This card has a whopping 3584 CUDA cores, a base clock of 1417MHz, a Memory speed of 10 Gbps, and crazy 12GB of the best graphics memory available called GDDR5X. This graphics card is also compatible with the new edition of SLI technology; which the technology originally had scaling problems with more than two graphics cards in configuration. You can run the Titan X in 4-way SLI and literally quadruple and almost quintuple your graphics output power. This means you can smoothly run 4K and an amazing 5K resolution with around 110 to 150 frames per second; which was never even thought of a few years ago.
Nvidia has been an ever growing company since it started, and continues to lead the pack over AMD Radeon, and the smartphone Intel based graphics. They achieved this by broadening their spectrum not only in hardware, but also in developing new software. With their new software exclusively available to only their hardware, there are many more reasons for gamers to pick up an Nvidia card compared to an AMD card. PhysX; which is a physics engine allowing real-time physics in both PCs and consoles. G-sync is another great example, it synchronizes the display refresh rates to the GPU; which eliminates display stutter and a gamers worst enemy LAG. These and many more technologies speak for the reason why Nvidia has a 39% increase in graphics shipments, and an overall increase in market share by 2.2% Q3 2016.
As previously stated in the above paragraphs ATI Radeon was bought out by AMD in 2006, but it wasnt until 2010 when the actual ATI brand came to an end and was renamed Radeon Graphics by AMD. What many consumers do not know is that AMD does not sell their cards directly to the public, instead they sell their Radeon GPUSs to third party companies that build and sell their Radeon graphics card lines. Just like Nvidia, Radeon has developed technologies exclusive to their graphics cards, so they can bring more to the table for the consumer. One of the big technologies they are known for is the TressFx Hair; which is the first ever real-time hair physics system that simulates real life hair on animals, people, and environmental textures as well. What this system does is individualizes thousands of strands of hair created by the gaming developers, and treats them as a chain with dozens of links; which also has gravity and various other environmental affects added to it like wind. Another amazing technology that they have developed is their Mantle Graphics API, and this bridges the two worlds of consoles and PCs by applying programming and optimization techniques written for consoles to be implemented on PCs. Being both a console and PC gamer, I know there are a lot of games that are ported over from console to PC and they have many problems and bugs because of that. This technology really helps the PC gaming community, and allows them to stay up to date with the ever so popular console games. Radeon have developed their own top of the line graphics card called the Fury X, and if you are building a gaming rig on a budget then this is the perfect card for you. The Fury X has an amazing 4096 stream processors (Stream processors equivalent to Nvidias Cuda Cores), a base clock of 1050 MHz, memory speed of 512 Gbps, and 4 GB of GDDR5 memory on board. It also features many of Radeons amazing technologies, but lacks being able to support all of them, even though it is their top of the line graphics card. The good thing is it features AMDs Crossfire technology, and fully supports DirectX 12; which allows this card to compete and beat a lot of its competition on the market.
AMD Radeon is a phenomenal company and really goes out of their way to allow the customer to get the best bang for their buck. They target the consumer that doesnt want spend over a grand for one single graphics card, and this allows the budget gamers to flourish and their market share to increase. I applaud them for what they do for their customers, and see them growing a lot more in the future for having the consumer mindset when creating their products. They have also been very innovative and made exclusive technologies that are very appealing to the consumer that favors distinct graphical appearance over just big GPU numbers. Even though AMD Radeon is the underdog when it comes to the graphics card market, I would not count them out of it whatsoever in the long run. According to the website called wccftech Radeons shipments had increased by 20%, and their market share was around 13.0% declining only 0.6% this past quarter of the year; which isnt all too bad.
So the big question is; which graphics card company do you go with? Well it all just depends on what type of consumer you are. Nvidia and Radeon offer a great line of graphics cards on both ends, but I do believe that Nvidia would get the edge in this catergory due to Radeon only having three cards to pick from per series compared to Nivdia having five or more per series. The bigger product line allows customers to really gauge their budget when choosing a card, and also sticking with the brand they might like more over the other. The lack of variety really takes a toll on Radeon when it comes to market share, and sets them back because of it. Next both companies have exclusive and re-rolled graphics technologies to enhance the users experience. Nvidia is already ahead of the game by having developed so many crucial innovations to the PC community like PhysX. Radeon stills lacks in this category because of their re-rolled technologies, and small amount of innovations they have made. The last thing I can compare the two companies on is their prized top of the line graphics card. Radeon with their Fury X puts up a big fight against the Nvidia Titan X, and actually narrowly beats the Titan X in numbers of GPU processing. Where the Fury X lacks is where the Titan X triumphs, and that is the power behind the card itself. The Titan X easily wins every other category of this battle by having higher GPU clock speeds, higher memory speeds, and the most important of all having a huge amount of the best graphics onboard memory you can get. From my experience with rig building, you cant use all the power you have in your equipment without the RAM/GRAM memory to run it all. Ultimately it comes down to which brand you like more, and customer loyalty is huge aspect of the market this day and time.
In conclusion both companies are growing positively, and the PC gaming industry is growing as well. This means that there are unknown futures that lie ahead for both of these companies. So all we can do as consumers and fans of the industry is to just sit back and enjoy the ride, and hope that our gaming experience only gets better as time goes on.
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