Nvidia bids to dislodge Intel as rivalry gets ugly

From CNET News.com: Although the Santa Clara, Calif., neighbors (located only a couple of miles from each other) have never really been on speaking terms, the rivalry is intensifying with the emergence of the Netbook--small, lightweight laptops priced below $500.

The competitive backdrop is still the same--Intel's longstanding (and very successful) vision of a CPU-centric universe versus Nvidia's creed that graphics processing matters more and more in a multimedia-intensive world.

The challenge for Nvidia is that as laptops downsize into Netbooks, a graphics vacuum has been created. And Nvidia abhors a graphics vacuum.

Inside almost every Acer, Asus, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell Netbook beats an Intel silicon core. Intel accounts for both central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU)--the latter in the form of the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950.

Nvidia wants in. It maintains that Intel-only Netbooks choke on high-quality multimedia content and, as a result, consumers will demand better graphics hardware as the Netbook increases in size to 10-inch diagonal screen sizes and beyond. (The Netbook began as a tiny 8- or 9-inch form factor, but it has been moving to 10-inch and even a 12-inch screens, in the case of Dell's Inspiron Mini 12 Netbook.)

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