Are GPUs About to Shake Up the Netbook Market?

nvidia_ion_logoAsk a netbook owner why he or she bought one of the small laptops and you’re sure to get a number of reasonable answers. However, the response likely won’t be, “For the killer graphics performance!” Intel’s (s intc) GMA 950 core has been the bread-and-butter hardware solution for graphics since the netbook market was born in late 2007. The chip is fine for a basic, all-around graphics experience, but quickly starts to falter when stressed with high-definition video or other graphic-intensive tasks. Enter Nvidia with its ION solution, which found its way into the new HP Mini 311, an 11.6-inch netbook starting at $399. At this price point — and with the high-definition video functionality and DirectX 10 support that Intel netbooks can’t currently match — consumers are sure to be swayed towards a PC-quality graphics experience on a mobile computer, meaning the netbook market could see some serious changes. Read More about Are GPUs About to Shake Up the Netbook Market?

ATI Returning to Mac With 4000-Series Graphics Cards

Radeon

Poor NVIDIA (s nvda) — it looks like your honeymoon with Apple (s aapl) is over. There hasn’t been an official announcement from Cupertino yet, but a glance at the customization options for high-end iMacs (the ones that use discrete graphics) and Mac Pros reveals that ATI (s ati) Radeon HD 4000-series cards are already available as new configurable alternatives to NVIDIA products.

ATI was shown the door at Apple when the computer maker introduced notebooks and desktops that feature integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics cards. Many suspect that things turned rocky between Apple and NVIDIA, thanks to the faulty GeForce 8600M GT cards that resulted in the Mac maker offering customers an unprecedented warranty extension for problems related to that component. Read More about ATI Returning to Mac With 4000-Series Graphics Cards

Aviary Expands Its Fluency With Photo Editing, Images, Effects and More

Last October, we published a post about Aviary, a suite of graphics-focused online applications that, at the time, consisted of three basic tools. Aviary has expanded since then to become a very popular, award-winning graphics suite — much more than the simple photo editor that it started out as. There are quite a few new modules in the suite. I’ve been using all of the tools recently; it’s one of the best graphics suites you’ll find. It’s also free, although a Pro version is available.

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3D Graphics/Animation App Blender Gets an Upgrade

In early April, I wrote about Blender, a free, robust open-source application that can be used for 3D modeling, eye-catching logos and other still graphics. As we covered on OStatic, Blender is now out in a much-improved version 2.49. You can find announcements of the many new features here, and videos of the new features in action here. There is a lot to like.

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NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 Coming to Apple Mac Pro

quadro_fx_mac_3qtr_thumbLast month Apple (s aapl) updated its entire desktop lineup, from the Mac mini to the Mac Pro. Next month, Mac Pro users will have even more to get excited about when NVIDIA (s nvda) starts selling its new Quadro FX 4800 graphics card for Mac. The new card is supposed to be designed specifically for the unique requirements of the Mac Pro desktop, which might help explain why it costs about $230 more than the previously released, not-for-Mac Quadro FX 4800.
The extra cash probably also helps pay for the extra dual-link DVI port the Mac processor comes with, for a total of two. All the other stats are the same for the Mac edition as for its predecessor, including 92 CUDA parallel processor cores with 1.5GB GDDR3 that put out a whopping 76.8GB/sec of memory bandwidth. In other words, this thing kicks.
Other features of the new card include a 3 pin min-din connector for use with stereo 3D glasses, and out-of-the-box Boot Camp support that will ensure you’re using native Quadro drivers in Windows for the best possible graphics performance on both platforms.
The Quadro FX 4800 will cost you more than a lot of laptops, though, so don’t get your heart set on it unless you’re the kind of person for whom graphics are very important (which, if you own a Mac Pro to begin with, you probably are). Also, if you have an older Mac Pro, check before buying, since the card will only be compatible with Mac Pros with device identifiers of 3,1 and 4,1 or higher, which are the last two major product refreshes. No word on whether it’ll be an upgrade option when you’re setting up your custom computer for purchase, but it will retail at the official Apple online store, along with NVIDIA’s other retail partners.

Use Blender to Create Eye-popping 3D Graphics

Who doesn’t like to get something good for free? The open source community offers all kinds of resources that go beyond free applications, including free books on mastering the top open-source applications.

In this post, I’ll cover an excellent book about Blender, available for free online. Blender is a robust 3D graphics and animation application that can help you create eye-popping graphics for web sites, blogs and documents.
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Apple Releases 17″ MacBook Pro Graphics Fix

software-updateA while back we reported about issues 17-inch MacBook Pro owners were having with vertical lines and other distortion appearing on their displays. Almost three weeks later, Apple (s aapl) has released a fix for the issue. Officially dubbed “MacBook Pro Graphics Firmware Update 1.0,” it’s downloadable immediately via Software Update.
Apple doesn’t point any fingers regarding the source of the problem, which seemed to be the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M card that handles dedicated graphics processing. Let’s hope this fix does finally resolve the issue once and for all, because otherwise Apple might have to move on to hardware replacement and even a general recall. Let us know whether or not the fix works if you were experiencing problems.

OnLive Will Make a Hardcore Gaming Machine Out of Your MacBook

onlive

The Game Developers Conference for 2009 is just underway, and already there’s some big news which has particular relevance for that rare and frustrated breed, the Mac gamer.

I’m a Mac gamer myself, and have pretty much given up the OS X side of things and just decided to do all my gaming in a Windows Boot Camp partition. My days of option-booting may be drawing to a close, however, thanks to a new venture that could make gaming a lot more democratic, much to the dismay of hardware manufacturers.
The service in question is called OnLive, and it will basically offer game streaming to whatever machine you happen to have. You can either get it via a very small set-top unit that attaches directly to your TV, or through a desktop software client. That’s when the magic happens. OnLive uses server farms to do all of the heavy lifting for your computer, so that your resources aren’t important. That means my Eee PC can handle Crysis, though I would never actually use that tiny machine for gaming. More importantly, my MacBook and my Mac mini can both handle Crysis without breaking a sweat. Which means I’m belatedly glad that I didn’t spring for that MacBook Pro or Mac Pro desktop. Read More about OnLive Will Make a Hardcore Gaming Machine Out of Your MacBook

Graphics Problems Surface With 17″ MacBook Pro

mbpproblem

At this point, it seems like having some graphics issues is more of a “coming of age” thing for a new Mac product than something that surprises or worries us, though I’m sure if you have one of the affected MacBook Pros, you think otherwise.

Users are reporting in an Apple Support thread that the recently shipped 17-inch model is acting up, displaying green lines and ugly screen artifacts. The problem is apparently tied pretty clearly to the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M (the dedicated card), since the problem doesn’t arise while running the integrated 9400M, only appearing when you switch to the more powerful card. Read More about Graphics Problems Surface With 17″ MacBook Pro

Autodesk Serving Up Sketchbook Express With Axiotron Apple Tablet

It’s likely you’ve heard mention of the Axiotron Modbook, the third party (and only) Apple tablet computing solution, but I like talking about it anyway. Axiotron, a small company operating out of El Segundo, California, won high acclaim for their Modbook, taking best in show at 2007’s Macworld convention.

The Modbook is a converted Macbook, equipped with a Wacom-penabled touchscreen display. It’s a drool-worthy piece of tech, especially for graphic designers who do a lot of field work. And now you can drool even more, because the Modbook now comes complete with Sketchbook Express 2009, an exclusive version of Autodesk’s graphics software.
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