Issue: Volume 35 Issue 5: (Aug/Sept 2012)


Graphics Shipments Increase in Q2

Jon Peddie Research (JPR) revealed its findings for the estimated graphics chip shipments and suppliers’ market share for the second quarter. And, the news was good— for most. Intel had gains in both desktop (13.6%) and notebook (3.8%), led mostly by Sandy Bridge. Nvidia gained in the notebook discrete segment (6%), and AMD saw gains in the discrete desktop category (2.5%).

This was a good, if not a great, quarter for the suppliers. Graphics shipments during Q2 ’12 bucked the downward PC trend and rose 2.7% from last quarter as compared to -1.5% for PCs overall. The popularity of tablets, combined with the persistent five-year recession, have been contributing factors that have altered the nature of the PC market. Nonetheless, the CAGR for PC graphics from 2011 to 2016 is 6.3%, and JPR expects the total shipments of graphics chips in 2016 to reach 688 million units. The 10-year average change for this quarter is a growth of 2.27%. This quarter is ahead of the average, with a 2.5% increase.

The Quarter in General

  • AMD’s total shipments of heterogeneous GPU/CPUs, ie APUs, dropped 13.8% in the desktop from Q1 and 6.7% in notebooks. Ironically, the company had a 55.8% increase in notebook IGPs, but it was only 300,000 units. Intel’s desktop processor graphics EPG shipments increased from last quarter by 6.3%, and notebooks showed double-digit growth of 13.9%.
  • Nvidia’s desktop discrete shipments dropped 10.4% from last quarter; however, the company increased mobile discrete shipments 19.2% largely due to share gains on Ivy Bridge, which included ultrabooks. The company will no longer report IGP shipments.
  • Year to year this quarter, AMD shipments declined 1.6%, Intel shipped almost 20% more parts, Nvidia shipped fewer parts (-22.0%) but that was because it exited the IGP segment, and VIA saw shipments slip by 18.2% over last year.
  • Almost 126 million graphics chips shipped, up from 122 million units in Q1 and up from 118 million units shipped in Q2 2011.
  • Total discrete GPUs (desktop and notebook) increased a modest 0.5% from the last quarter and were down 7% from last year for the same quarter due to the same problems plaguing the overall PC: continued HDD shortage, macroeconomics, softness in Western European market, and the impact of tablets. Overall the trend for discrete GPUs is up, with a CAGR to 2015 of 5%.
  • Ninety percent of Intel’s non-server processors have graphics, and over 68% of AMD’s non-server processors contain integrated graphics.

Maxon Rolls Out Cinema 4D R14

Maxon has unveiled Release 14 of its Cinema 4D, which includes a new, fully integrated sculpting system, new camera matching functionality, the debut of exchange plug-ins to two key applications (The Foundry’s Nuke and Adobe’s Photoshop Extended), and improved integration with Adobe’s After Effects. Packed with other workflow enhancements, R14 will enable creative professionals to produce 3D content more fluidly and collaborate more efficiently.

Maxon is offering four versions of Cinema 4D, each geared to 3D artists in different industries.

Multiple enhancements in R14 offer artists a more flexible tool set to achieve greater rendering realism and compositing control. New and improved shaders and materials are now available for simulating wood grain, weathering effects, and normal mapping. Global Illumination has been enhanced with new technologies, such as Radiosity Maps and the unified sampler from the Physical Renderer. Also, new algorithms in R14 provide up to twice the speed for caustics; the software also contains further enhancements to subsurface scattering render materials.

Pricing varies according to packages, with the most robust version, Cinema 4D R14 Studio, selling for $3,695.

CGW Reveals Its SIGGRAPH Silver Edge Award Winners

SIGGRAPH. There’s no trade show quite like it. It truly is the one place where art and technology merge, where right-brainers and left-brainers are in sync. Where else can a techie speak geek to a director while the two are united in a meaningful conversation? This year, the conference returned to its “home base” of Los Angeles, which meant more—more attendees, more booth space on the show floor, more discussions…just more, in general. This year saw more than 40 first-timers on the exhibit floor—among them, The Foundry, Unity Technologies, and VanGogh Imaging— showing their technologies alongside others that are considered SIGGRAPH veterans.

No question, the exhibition floor at SIGGRAPH 2012 was bustling with activity. Motion capture remained a popular technology, with a number of vendors setting up capture volumes in their booth, as a model danced and pranced on stage while a monitor showed the resulting animation after the acquired data was applied to a CG character. Making a return were companies offering head-mounted displays for exploring virtual environments. Included in this category was Infinite Z with its zSpace, which received a CGW Silver Edge Award earlier this year from GDC 2012. Having an increased presence this year on the show floor and outside the Emerging Technologies area were 3D printers, from the inexpensive (MakerBot was showing its $1749 Replicator), to the novel (MCOR, whose Matrix 300 uses regular copier paper as the printing medium), to the higher end (such as those from 3D Systems and Z Corp.). Of course, graphics boards and 3D content creation software were on full display, as they are every year. And as contributing editor Kathleen Maher points out, “the number of raytracing companies are multiplying like rabbits,” as evidenced by a large presence at the show. One vendor whose tech was particularly intriguing was Imagination, with its Caustic Visualizer plug-in for Maya.

So, what did the staff of Computer Graphics World find especially interesting and deserving of the magazine’s Silver Edge Award for best in show at SIGGRAPH 2012? Here’s our picks.

Maxon’s Cinema 4D Release 14. For years, Maxon’s Cinema 4D has offered some great tools for 3D content creation. But with the latest version of the 3D motion graphics, visual effects, painting, and rendering software application, which the company is calling “a milestone release,” Maxon has established itself as a very serious contender in the DCC space. New features for the 3D suite include a new, fully integrated sculpting system that is based on the company’s production-proven BodyPaint engine. The package continues its tight integration with compositing by adding a seamless connection to Nuke, along with an exchange plug-in to Adobe Photoshop Extended.

Side Effects Software’s Houdini. Side Effects, like its 3D content creation software, Houdini, is hardly new to the industry— it is celebrating its 25th anniversary. And throughout this time, the software has been a workhorse. Not long ago, the company released Version 12. Built on a new geometry engine, Houdini 12 includes targeted optimizations to dynamics and rendering, and a reworked OpenGL 3 viewport. The big news, though, is the significant price cut and subsequent rebranding. Houdini FX (formerly Houdini Master) includes all the popular Houdini features, including some of the best particle, fluid, and cloth tools in the industry. It is now priced at $4,495. Houdini (formerly Houdini Escape), which is the base product and includes modeling, rendering, and animation tools, costs $1995.

NewTek’s LightWave 3D. In the past, it took quite some time for NewTek to get a new version or release of LightWave 3D out the door. Not so now—and these are not your small incremental releases, either. Just announced and soon to be released is Light- Wave 11.5, featuring the new Genoma modular character animation and instant rigging system for quickly rigging a simple biped or quadruped before animating it in Modeler—no special rigging tools are needed. The update also contains flocking tools, instances, soft-body bullet dynamics, and more, including interexchange support for Adobe After Effects and Pixologic’s GoZ Fiber Mesh. Rivaling this news was the announcement of the newly formed LightWave 3D Group under the watchful eye of its president, Rob Powers—news that excited current (and, no doubt, future) LightWave users. NewTek remains the parent company, but now the software has its own dedicated group to oversee development. I am not sure if it was the software update or the corporate news, but LightWave 3D was a popular destination at the show. No doubt it will be a revitalized force to be reckoned with.

AMD’s FirePro W cards. For years, Nvidia and AMD have battled it out in the DCC space. But in this graphics arms race, AMD seems to have pulled ahead for the time being with its nextgen FirePro W cards (W9000, W8000, W7000, and W5000), offering up to four teraflops of graphics computing power on the high-end W9000. The new FirePro GPUs are based on the company’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.

Canon’s MR (Mixed Reality). Maybe it was the cool factor, or a technology that took us back to the booming SIGGRAPHs of the 1990s, but it was a treat to have a vendor that is not a SIGGRAPH regular exhibit some fantastic technology. The Canon MR is an augmented reality application of sorts, and at the show, the company was demonstrating its capability of combining 3D objects with real-time video imagery. At the booth, a user would don a Canon head-mount display, and suddenly a virtual image of a car would appear where there was only a set of actual car seats. With AR proliferating, this technology holds a lot of potential.