History of Processors and Graphics Cards

Have you ever thought of a day when only a CPU or GPU controlled the whole system, and the other option was not there anymore? Recently, I have.

This thought came to mind when I was thinking about the recent court case between Intel and NVidia, fighting over licensing rights for developing chipsets that supported the Core i7 Nehalem processors. Intel is the processor powerhouse, and NVidia is a large GPU competitor against ATI.

Now, years and years ago, when computers were still at lower levels, and Intel was competing against stronghold AMD with its new Pentium processors, not much was integrated; memory controllers were in a separate location on the motherboard, memory was still controlled via the memory controller, there was only DDR memory, and the GPU was at its separate location, receiving commands from the CPU. Initially, a computer could not work without a CPU or a GPU; the computer had to have both. You’d definitely need a CPU to send commands to other components through the motherboard for the computer to even function, and you’d need a GPU to have a display to look at.

As developers and manufacturers created new and better computer hardware at an alarming rate, things started to become integrated; AMD went on to be the first to include the on-die memory controller in its CPU’s, NVidia was established and began to create its own GPU’s, Intel began the development of the Core2 series, and motherboard chipsets became more and more advanced for CPUs to be able to process and send commands and data to components of the computers more quickly. CPU’s and GPU’s developed at a neck-to-neck rate, and both were progressively becoming much more powerful and efficient.

And now, here we are today, with the Core i7 Nehalmen processors, ATI’s popular 4870 X2 and NVidia’s GTX 295 GPU’s, one with 2 GPU’s on one graphics card and the latter with one powerful GPU. Intel now includes its on-die memory controller in the CPU itself, and now there’re motherboards with integrated GPU’s powerful enough to produce a good display on monitors. Everything is becoming INTEGRATED.