11th January 2008

Nvidia’s new “Additive Brand” strategy may create confusion

posted by Eric C. in Hardware, Laptops/ Computers, Motherboards, Video Cards |

It’s being reported that Nvidia has recently informed it’s hardware partners of a new marketing program called Additive Brand. The Additive Brand allows OEMs to bundle an Nvidia chipset motheboard capable of Hybrid SLI with a video card running an Nvidia GPU that supports GeForce Boost and market the system as having the video card of the combined performance of the discrete dedicated GPU and the IGP’s video. The example that DigiTimes gave was “an nForce 780a motherboard bundled with a GeForce 8500GT graphics card may be marketed as a GeForce 8600 system, or a GeForce 8400GS as a GeForce 8500.” The example does give you an idea of how Additive Brand will work but these exact models may not be part of Hybrid SLI, as some sources report that no currently released video card supports Hybrid SLI.

The average consumer isn’t going to know what Hybrid SLI is or the difference between having a dedicated GF 8600 versus having the IGP and dedicated GPU “add up to” the performance of a GF 8600.  The problem comes if bundling of video cards with motherboards starts to become more popular, their could be many frustrated computer enthusiasts expecting a full fledged video card of the higher model.  Bundling of motherboards with VGA cards does happen but on the whole it’s not a regular practice by component manufacturers.  For now it’s mainly a concern for those looking at a notebook with discrete graphics or buying a pre-built OEM system, to know that the model number they’re looking at is the performance level that includes Hybrid SLI and no calculations should be needed.  Of course that is only true if the system uses one of Nvidia’s newer chipsets, as Hybrid SLI is only supported by future Nvidia chipsets and obviously not supported by Intel, AMD, Sis, or Via chipsets.

The Additive Brand strategy does make sense for Nvidia promote, as the system will “perform like” the higher model but the program has to be done right.  It has to be communicated to the customer it’s a performance rating based on Hybrid SLI’s Geforce Boost feature and that you aren’t actually getting a full fledged higher model product.  The other main concern is that their is no fudge room for OEMs to overstate or inflate the model number higher than the actual performance the user can expect.  The last potential problem is driver/game support for Hybrid SLI, which remains to be seen as the chipsets have yet to be released.

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