Improved Graphics Performance Changes the Cost Equation in Digital Signage


The quality and flexibility of digital signage is a function of the graphics processing capability of the media players that drive the displays. To deliver a high level of graphics performance, media players tend to incorporate discrete graphics processing units (GPUs), although some players use the graphics engine on the CPU platform. But more vendors are expected to turn to integrated graphics as performance increases, and it becomes better aligned to CPU performance.

It’s expected that CPU performance will increase year after year. And indeed, this has been the case for Intel® architecture processors that are typically refreshed annually. This time around, Intel has also boosted graphics performance by up to 60 percent in the move from 2nd Generation to 3rd Generation Intel® CoreTM processors. This remarkable step up in graphics speed has changed the cost equation for media players. For a large portion of the media player market, developers can eliminate GPUs, saving on the order of $350 (USD) and reducing power consumption by a couple hundred watts2 without sacrificing performance. Media player vendors who are using the on-board graphics on 2nd Generation Intel Core processors (codenamed Sandy Bridge) will benefit significantly from migrating to these latest Intel® processors.

Shrinking Die Size

3rd Generation Intel Core processors (codenamed Ivy Bridge) are manufactured with a new 22 nm silicon process, which enables a better than 50 percent area shrink over the prior 32 nm technology. The new processors also have a completely redesigned GPU core that is integrated on-chip. The number of execution units increased, an L3 cache was added and many other additions were made. The graphics performance improvement was the result of both architectural enhancements and smaller silicon geometries. 

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