AMD's 785G Chipset
While it isn't as sexy as writing about high-end GPUs with hundreds of stream processors, a billion or more transistors, and the latest blazing fast GDDR5 memory, integrated graphics solutions are what power the majority of PCs in use today. According to the latest figures from industry research firm Jon Peddie Research, Intel commands over 50% share of the overall graphics market despite lacking a discrete graphics card of their own to sell to the public; instead all of their graphics share comes from their lineup of integrated graphics chipsets.
Each month Intel ships tens of millions of G45, G43, G41, GMA X4500, GMA X3100 and older integrated graphics chipsets to customers around the world. These IGPs (integrated graphics processors) are then sold in the $300 and $400 desktop and notebook PCs found from computer manufacturers like HP and Dell.
AMD wants in on more of this action. Seeing the huge volumes of IGPs Intel moves each month, who can blame them? When they purchased ATI back in 2006 they cited the fusion of the CPU and GPU as one of the keys to the purchase, but in the short term they also hoped that ATI's chipsets and IGPs would help them score new design wins with OEMs leery of purchasing CPUs from one source and IGPs from another (usually NVIDIA), and ultimately help them take some share from Intel.
Unfortunately for AMD, despite a good product lineup, things haven't quite panned out as originally planned.
Intel was actually first to market with an IGP that supported DirectX 10 graphics. Their Bearlake series of G3x chipsets beat AMD to the punch by several months, scoring the design wins AMD had hoped for despite the fact that AMD's first DX10 offering, the 780G chipset, delivered better 3D graphics performance than Intel G35.
780G was a pretty remarkable chipset for its time. Thanks to a die shrink, ATI was essentially able to integrate their existing RV620 GPU found in their Radeon 3450/3470 value cards and put it in the 780G chipset itself. ATI had to knock the clock speeds down a little in order to fit within their power/thermal budget, but other than that, it was basically the same GPU.
Hybrid Graphics was the feature that really put 780G on the map though. Like ATI's CrossFire technology, with Hybrid Graphics, you could pair a discrete Radeon 3450 graphics card with the graphics core integrated in the IGP for a nearly 2X performance increase in games. It was the first time mutli-GPU technology was found in an IGP from any manufacturer (NVIDIA followed with their own solution later).
Now ATI and AMD are back with their successor to 780G. Internally dubbed 785G, to the outside world AMD will market it as the Radeon HD 4200 or 785G chipset with Radeon HD 4200 graphics. The Radeon HD 4200 nomenclature suggests this is a new part based on an RV7xx derived Radeon 4000 graphics core, but the 785G designation implies this chipset is an incremental improvement over the 780G platform. Which one is it? Let's find out!