Portal 2 optimised for new CPU/GPU hybrid

Valve hails new Intel processor ‘a game changer’

Gabe Newell, the co-founder renowned US studio Valve, took to the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday to praise Intel’s latest microprocessor as a “game changer”.

Intel’s Sandy Bridge family of processors show a much higher emphasis on visual performance than ever before, carrying an integrated 32 nanometer graphics-processing unit. The chip is expected to open up higher-end graphics performance on laptop devices – something which Valve’s scalable Source Engine would, in theory, greatly benefit from.

“Sandy Bridge is awesome,” said Newell, whose team at Valve have worked with the tech to optimise performance in its upcoming game Portal 2.

“We’ve been using it for a couple of months,” he added. “Sandy Bridge really does give us the great features and performance that we need to develop great customer experiences for gamers. Sandy Bridge cannot only run today’s games, but even the next generation of games.”

In a more ambiguous claim, Newell said on stage yesterday that Sandy Bridge “allows for a console-like experience on the PC.” It is likely he is referring to a more universal baseline standard for triple-A game development on PC; a technical consistency which helps developers optimise their games.

Intel said Sandy Bridge, which has been in development since 2006, “represents the biggest advance in computing performance and capabilities over any other previous generation.”

Mooly Eden, vice president of the PC Client Group at Intel, claimed that the graphics capability on Sandy Bridge processor is better than 40-50 per cent of discrete graphics chips on the market. The methodology for this claim has not been revealed.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini hopes the chip will count for one third of its 2011 revenues and generate $125 billion for the industry altogether.

Retailers have been selling-in the chips for weeks.

Intel rival AMD will release its own CPU/GPU hybrid, called Fusion, later in the year.

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