Rage3D Kombuting // January 4th edition

Author: Panagiotis Vagiakos
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: January 4th, 2013

Rumour issue this week! Intel/nVIDIA, Apple/AMD, Nokia tablet and Windows RT ported to HD2!

Is it a blog? Is it my rumblings with a spice of memes? Is it Stuff That Are Entirely My Opinion And Do Not Reflect That of Rage3D? Guilty as charged on all accounts. Enjoy and comment away :)

nVIDIA and Intel talks - possible merger in the horizon?

Kombuting survives the Mayan apocalypse (sorry, had to say it) and is back this week with a festive mood, a mild hangover and some more rumour commenting. You see, the good thing about this industry is that rumours prevent it from ever being boring. Some times they are totally fictitious, some times they exist because someone misheard something and took it for something completely different, and sometimes they just hit bull's eye. In any case, they provide an excellent opportunity for discussion, speculation, sometimes even heated debate.

So one of the more exciting rumours in the horizon lately was the one that surfaced more than a week ago; about Intel and nVIDIA having talks about who knows what. Of course, that practice is common place in the industry, with companies talking to each other about collaborations, joined projects and the like, but the internet buzz was all about the implications of a possible merger between the two industry behemoths. The rumours went as far as to suggest that Jen-Hsun Huang, the Beloved Leader of the Santa Clara company would lead the merged entity as the new CEO, as Paul Ottelini, CEO of Intel is to retire this May.

But, would this move make sense? Actually, in my opinion, it's a move long overdue. Let's face it: Intel has never been good with graphics, and that's painfully evident with every single graphics chipset they have released thus far (or NOT released, as the failed project Larrabee proved). Its integrated HD graphics silicon is just "OK" and is often plagued by driver bugs and low performance - AMD Fusion APUs are having a field day in that regard, and Intel knows that. On the other hand, nVIDIA is a competitive beast, that doesn't like being drawn into a corner - its Geforce GPUs are top of the line, it has successfully entered the mobile space with Tegra, so imagine what it would do if it were to join forces with the Chipzilla itself: Intel CPU with Geforce integrated graphics, anyone? Such an APU (problem, AMD?) would certainly shift huge volumes and set new standards in that emerging market. Of course, there are many hurdles to the deal, from corporate culture to personal strategies, but as Theo Valich said in his coverage of the rumour, stranger things have indeed happened. And with 2013 kicking in in full force, the implications of a move like that are certain to be felt for years to come.

Apple going the AMD way?

Speaking of implications, Apple seems to be hiring engineers that have experience with Radeon GPUs. With Radeons out of Macs for several years now, it would be a very interesting development if Apple switched back to Radeons for its Mac line of products, and would certainly give AMD a swift boost of confidence in these troubled times.

But since this is the rumour installation of Kombuting this week, we could go one step further than that. What if Apple decided that it absolutely needs to have complete control of every aspect of the Mac line? And what if, it decided to outright buy AMD and everything that comes with it? The cost of a move like that is petty cash for Apple, it can easily do that without breaking a sweat. But again, would it make sense? Actually, it would. Apple is the industry equivalent of a control freak; it needs to have complete control of every aspect of its production line. That, industry experts say, is one of the reasons of its success. But right now it relies on other companies to provide two of the most important aspects of its personal computers: CPUs and graphics. With AMD having Radeon graphics on board, and making huge strides in power-efficient computing, Apple would hugely benefit from such a move and would be able to further innovate on graphics and central processing units - maybe even give Macs the one thing that is keeping them away from the mass market's preference: gaming capabilities. Of course I should note that I don't have any such information that Apple is even considering such a move, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did.

Competition for the Surface...by Nokia?

Recent market rumours have indicated that Windows RT devices (such as Microsoft's own Surface, Asus' Vivo RT and Samsung's Ativ Tab) haven't really taken off thus far, painting a not-so-rosy picture for the future of that specific iteration of Windows. Of course, Surface Pro hasn't hit retail yet, and I know many people are waiting for that instead of what they feel is a version of Windows that can run only a handful of apps. But it seems the Windows RT family will get yet another entry early this year, from no other than Nokia. Verge reports that it will be a 10.1" Windows RT tablet, which will have a very interesting selling point: a battery-equipped cover that will envelop the tablet like a book, provide it with a kickstand and a keyboard and will give it additional juice once it's low on battery. A 10-hour capacity and fast charging is also one of the main rumoured features, with no information yet about pricing. Nokia is said to release a Windows RT version first, with a Windows 8 version to follow, much like Surface.

Will the tablet succeed where the others have.. well, not failed, but let's just say that they haven't yet succeeded to make a huge impact on the market? Nobody knows, but Nokia did put Windows Phone on the radar with its Lumia line and Microsoft may need the guys from Espoo in order to put Windows RT tablets on the radar as well.

Windows RT hacked to run on HTC HD2

And speaking of Windows RT, a very interesting development happened the other day. According to GSM Arena, the most versatile mobile phone ever (the HTC HD2, which is able to run everything from Windows Mobile, Android, Windows Phone, plain Windows and even Linux) has added Windows RT to its impressive arsenal of capabilities, with screenshots to prove it.

Of course the real implications here go further than that - imagine your lowly Chinese tablet, or your Android mobile phone, being able to run Windows RT via ROM flashing. The possibilities are endless. I would love to have a Windows RT tablet myself, but I find the cost of such tablets prohibiting (especially since Tegra2/3 Android tablets can be found for lower than $300), so a development like that will definitely give knowledgeable people more options to choose from, and the developers over at XDA a new playing field. I believe that Windows RT suffers from the same problem as Windows Phone: people that have actually used it give it rave reviews; but they are too few and far between. The Metro interface needs more exposure, and hopefully Windows 8 will help in that direction.

Tune in next week; same Komb-time, same Komb-site.