CeBIT 2008: The Return Of Integrated Graphic Chips

One striking trend of this year's CeBIT is the number of motherboards that own integrated graphics. Take the example of Gigabyte: nearly half of the cards on display had IGPs, even if, for a long time, the presence of a video output was perceived as a flaw when it came to products destined to more advanced users. One has to admit that between the promising G45 (HD 1080 decoding and DirectX 10) and the new "hybrid" war (the possibility to pair an IGP and discrete GPU and take advantage of performances or power consumption) launched by NVIDIA and AMD, largely explains it.

We were able to peek at the AMD 780G board from Gigabyte (officially launched on Tuesday). It can pair an IGP and an installed discrete entry level card, but the system can't deactivate the latter yet. This model distinguishes itself thanks to a passive and simple cooling system (no army of heat pipes, just plain heat sinks), the presence of 3 video outputs (VGA, DVI, HDMI) and a n HD audio codec Realtek ALC899A, all of this on a micro ATX form factor. It's a product that seems very interesting for a small PC Home Theater, if the price remains as low as what AMD got us used to.

The manufacturer also displayed a 780a SLI board (from NVIDIA), but that isn't really interesting when compared to the nForce 790i, which could be called a "nForce 780 done right". We find the same Realtek chip as the previous board, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and lots of copper to cool the northbridge, southbridge and MOSFETs. We'll also note the unusual presence of a Molex port. The tendency to plug as much power connectors as possible doesn't seem to have faded.

With the G45, Intel will introduce its GMA X4500 HD, which we can already see on the Gigabyte GA-G45M-DS2H (the only one to officially support a 1600 MHz FSB). IGP should come back to its basic function: provide a free video output that can only be used for basic desktop applications, even if video decoding shouldn't be overlooked. The card uses a micro ATX form factor, an unusual imposing heat sink on the northbridge and only one PCI Express 1x slot and two PCI slots.

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