A Good Year for CG
Issue: Volume: 30 Issue: 1 (Jan 2007)

A Good Year for CG

Chief Editor
Karen Moltenbrey

By now, you should have unwrapped and, hopefully, put to good use all those holiday gifts you received. Be honest, you probably even returned one or two things. In terms of apparel, perhaps you were unhappy with the color, fit, or the item itself; but if the present fell into the category of electronics, you may have traded up for a newer, more advanced version.

In fact, today’s most advanced electronics—both consumer- and professional-level—seem to become outdated soon after they hit store shelves. While this can be frustrating for buyers, particularly those in the digital content creation realm, it is a signal that innovation is occurring. And that, obviously, is a very good thing.

2006 turned out to be a year of many changes within the computer graphics industry. At the beginning, Creative Labs cut loose graphics card maker 3Dlabs, leaving ATI and Nvidia to battle it out for the top position in the market. Throughout the year, ATI and Nvidia worked hard to gain ground. Nvidia was very busy, rolling out solutions for desktop, professional, gaming, and mobile users.

Early work on Intel’s Napa design, successor to the Centrino line, made Nvidia the top GPU choice for that platform. Perhaps Nvidia’s biggest announcement came during SIGGRAPH, when it unveiled the Quadro Plex visual computing system for advanced visualization. The company ended the year by announcing its Cuda technology. And you can bet that Nvidia will not rest on its laurels during 2007.

ATI likewise remained busy in those markets with new product launches. Still, ATI’s biggest move in 2006 occurred when the company landed in the hands of AMD. In fact, the analysts at Jon Peddie Research rated the acquisition as one of the top five industry events of last year. AMD, in fact, made that list twice, the second selection due to Dell’s announcement that it will adopt AMD Opteron processors for its desktop and server lines. Like AMD, Intel also had a good year, particularly after Apple’s switch from PowerPC to Intel processors.

One of the biggest events last year was the rollout of quad-core technology. No matter if those four CPU cores are from Intel or AMD, the offering will no doubt have a tremendous impact across all areas of the graphics industry. Looking ahead, the graphics suppliers will continue to shake up the industry—we can expect Nvidia to make lots of noise with its G80 GPU, and ATI to do likewise with the R600.

In the gaming market, gamers are now buying their Alienware systems from Dell, following the acquisition earlier last year. Also, in late-2006, the Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3 joined the next-gen gaming revolution started by Microsoft the prior year with its Xbox 360—and the look and feel of real-time game graphics are inching closer to that of pre-rendered film imagery. And with the PS3’s inclusion of a Blue-ray DVD player, we can expect the race between Blue-ray and HD-DVD to really heat up the video market this year.

These are but a few of the big events that have, and will, shape the DCC industry. Which events would you rate as having the most impact on the graphics industry? Share your thoughts and opinions on this subject as well as others via the Computer Graphics World CG Forum blog (www.cgw.com). In fact, make blogging on CGW part of your New Year’s resolution.

Here’s wishing everyone in the graphics industry a very prosperous 2007!