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The latest News - Hardware Unboxed vs. Nvidia

BTR tries to stay out of tech "politics" - but one particular email between Nvidia PR and HW Unboxed blew up Reddit and social media - so I think I have to comment now. ABT was a "tech site" and I consciously set up BTR to be a "review" site because I got burned by tech politics once before with AMD's PR blacklisting us for posting news they didn't appreciate. BTR is independent in every way but now this email calls into question the integrity of every reviewer and has to be addressed.


HWU received an email from Nvidia's top PR and tweeted about it and it made it to reddit.
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The full email:
Quote:Nvidia's email to Hardware Unboxed transcribed by /u/FlatAds via WAN Show

Hi Steve,

We've reached a critical juncture in the adoption of ray tracing and it has gained industry-wide support from top titles, developers, game engines, APIs, consoles and GPUs.

As you know Nvidia is all in for ray tracing. RT is important and core to the future of gaming, but it's also one part of our focused R&D efforts on revolutionizing video games and creating a better experience for gamers.

This philosophy is also reflected in developing technologies such as DLSS, reflex and broadcast that offer immense value to customers who are purchasing a GPU. They don't get free GPUs, they work hard for their money, and they keep their GPUs from multiple years.

Despite all this progress, your GPU reviews and recommendations have continued to focus singularly on rasterization performance and you have largely discounted all of the other technologies we offer gamers.

It is very clear from your community commentary that you do not see things the same way that we, gamers, and the rest of the industry do. Our founder's editions boards and other Nvidia products are being allocated to media outlets that recognize the changing landscape of gaming and the features that are important to gamers and anyone buying a GPU today. Be it for gaming, content creation, or studio and streaming.

Hardware Unboxed should continue to work with our add-in card partners to secure GPUs to review. Of course you will still have access to obtain pre-release drivers and press materials, that won't change. We are open to revisiting this in the future should your editorial direction change.

Brian Del Rizzo

Director of Global PR, GeForce

I have commented in this and associated threads there that this is highly unusual and absolutely not typical of the PR I know pretty well at Nvidia; and I have known then for 12 years. So I thought it may have been something personal and written out of frustration.

The video at the bottom is Linus take on it, and it is absolutely scathing. It takes up about 1/2 hour and Linus is concerned as I am about the integrity of our OWN reviews - because we like ray tracing. So I also have to address the issues the email raises.

As you well know, I am a ray tracing fan - long before Nvidia introduced Turing. It something that has always interested and fascinated me as superior to rasterization in games, and I did a lot of research on it and carefully followed its progress from year to year at the GTCs. I watched a supercomputer render a game ray traced in real time, then a DX-G1, then Quad-SLI'd Titans, then a single Titan and finally watched a Ti manage RT in real time at 30fps. I was also fascinated with the way AI could "fill in" the missing data of low-ray traced scenes by first machine learning mass images then denoising, and I watched it progress also over years.

My only surprise was that Turing was a bit early. I did not expect it until now, Ampere. But I loved what I saw at Gamescom with Turing - but my review was also critical (in my first ray tracing "industry analysis") that the HW was just not fast enough and it was too expensive. But I understood the "chicken-egg" scenario - the rule that the HW has to have an established base first - and then the ray traced SW/games will follow.

I also pointed out that this was Nvidia's BIG GAMBLE - they bet everything on ray tracing. And I projected that they would win - that ray tracing was so appealing that everyone would go for it (from the devs whose life will ultimately get a LOT easier using RT than rasterization) and just better looking games.

Well, Nvidia won. They won the ray tracing war in less than 2 years. MS was in early which meant that AMD knew about it (and clearly they went to work on it right away because Navi 2 does have ray tracing HW functions) and Intel also. And the consoles support ray tracing in their own first gen which is about the same situation that Turing was in 2 years ago. But RT is coming and it is the future of gaming (and VR!).

I have always always believed that games would eventually be ray/path traced - and I feel lucky to have lived long enough to see it (and VR!!). So in a way - Nvidia has aligned with me - not I with them. So when they brought out RT enabled HW, I am and have been consistently all for it - yet in my reviews I do point out that there are very few RT games - now - and the 6800 series is a good alternative for 99.99% of current games and it will let you play RT games much like Turing which is still a decent solution. So we have to give AMD a lot of credit for managing a leap from the 5700 XT to the 6900 XT to bring them into competition with Nvidia again.

At any rate, because of my interest in RT and DLSS, BTR focused on it and you saw a lot of review featuring this new tech (and VR!). It seems to me that HWU just doesn't have the interest that I do in it and tends to focus on other things which happen to be AMD's strengths. Both BTR and HWU provide solid reviews that focus on what we and our respective readership are interested in. I tend to give more emphasis to ray tracing and HWU less attention (although they still cover it pretty well IMO, and they also like DLSS).

So I was a bit perplexed by the email. IMO Nvidia "won" - Ray tracing is in everything from now on. It will - at the least - be a checkbox feature. Hardware will get faster from AMD and Nvidia and eventually all games will be path traced - in a decade or so. These things take time and there is no way to move any faster. I don't get why Nvidia would withhold review samples from them because then don't focus on RT "enough". I don't follow the Reviewers Guides - in fact, a couple of my recent reviews started with a VR review!

Quote: They don't get free GPUs, they work hard for their money, and they keep their GPUs from multiple years.
First of all, we don't get "free" video cards from Nvidia as that email suggests. If they are free, why don't they belong to me? I don't own them - they are basically loaners until they no longer have value. BTR also keeps them for multiple years and post 'retro' reviews regularly.

I won't go into dissecting the rest of the email. It is disturbing, but I don't think it is Nvidia's official position, and I think there is some backstory we just don't know. But I would guess that it may be personal or out of frustration giving both sides the benefit of the doubt. I am surprised that it was sent at all. Usually, if ANY tech company is not pleased with the way their product is reviewed, they may go back to the reviewer to discuss their review and ask why certain features were not highlighted. But I can't imagine any company basically threatening to cut someone off in writing (for obvious reasons) - if they are not satisfied with a reviewer's thoroughness, they usually internally move that reviewer to a less favored spot in the sample chain.

At any rate here is the video.

Nvidia has apologized and retracted the previous email - https://new.reddit.com/r/nvidia/comments..._an_email/
Quote:This whole thing was probably planned from the start so that they could spread a ‘message’ to other reviewers about what they want to see more of, then cancel it later by apologizing.
sounds like this was maybe just a little shake up? was HWU being one sided towards AMD? this seems a little too strange, and so fast.
I thought it was personal. In a reddit thread I also said I expect that Nvidia would continue to send HWU review samples. There is a back story we will probably never know.

Just a little tech drama to change the subject from politics and Covid to something else.
What nvidia tried to pull with this ridiculous stunt was utterly indefensible and it is little wonder they have retracted the email with their tail between their legs.

I made my comments over in the Ars thread on the subject, but I whole heartedly agree with Linus about evil, hitler like behaviour, and it goes much, much deeper than this.

nvidia has been quite dictatorial since the introduction of Pascal. Attempts at killing off SLI, forcing geforce experience down people's throats, the founders cards competing with their vendors cards and much, much more bullshit besides. Not to mention the omnipresent leather jacket...

Part of me wonders if it were Brian Del Rizzo or Jensen who was responible for this, but several reviewers have said this is behaviour unlike what BDR is generally known for and I think we all know that Jensen rules nvidia with an iron fist and nothing happens there unless he wants it to happen.
Here's a second apology

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We will never know the backstory between Steve/HWU and BDR/Nvidia.
Im all for sides of the reviewers but like you said apoppin

Quote:We will never know the backstory between Steve/HWU and BDR/Nvidia.
there is something fishy going on here. second apology now? really fishy. its hard to say is Steve all that innocent or does nvidia get all the blame? we dont know the backstory.

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