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Whether the arrival of integrated graphics solutions from a chipmaker with processors inside 90 percent of systems worldwide poses a threat to discrete graphics cards, or whether performance enhancements to discrete graphics processors will in fact undermine graphics integration, remains to be seen.
"Intel still thinks the vast majority of the market is on CPUs, but GPUs is the more exciting space," Swank said. "The number of cores available on these things is so high it adds a lot of performance and saves energy, without creating problems on the CPUs. You also have to have customized code to take advantage of that and that's expensive to develop"
However, with the high-expectations for Sandy Bridge, particularly with regard to video compression, the challenge could go the other way too.
"I am sure the pending release of Sandy Bridge has the manufacturers of discrete video cards a bit nervous," said Ulmen.