Twice the power, half the battery drain of last year's GPU--a pretty bold claim, and one that nVidia makes about its new 200M series laptop GPUs. Today nVidia lifts the lid off five graphics processors that will grace everything from cost-conscious computers to enthusiast gamer machines.
While the GeForce GTX 280M and GTX 260M remain nVidia's top dogs, you're now going to find a whole bunch of flavors filling out the line. They range from the GTS 260M (with 1GB of GDDR5 RAM) down to the G210M (with 512MB of GDDR3 RAM). These new 40nm chips support DirectX 10.1 and run CUDA applications, and all except the G210M offer built-in nVidia PhysX tech for GPU-bound physics calculations. For a full breakdown of what these new GPUs offer, look below.
But rather than get razzle-dazzled by the spokespeople, let's cut to the chase. These GPUs--certainly the lower-powered ones--could make a big difference in cracking the mainstream market. That is, we're already hearing about Ion-based netbooks coming out later this summer, but how about something with a little more oomph? You could soon see an affordable all-purpose laptop that's capable of running an HD movie without breaking a sweat. And, yeah, playing more than solitaire or a game from 16 years ago (not that there's anything wrong with X-Com) wouldn't hurt, either.
Who will provide those laptops down the line, and how much will they cost? Expect the usual suspects--nVidia claims "100 new design wins." Matt Wuebbling, senior product manager for notebooks GPUs at nVidia, says that we should "imagine a notebook in the $600-to-$700 price range six months ago with a discrete GPU [the G210M] that now has twice the graphics power versus the G110M." But the price, obviously, is up to the laptop maker. Wuebbling expects to see notebooks showing up as early as July; Asus and Acer are confirmed to be the first players bringing the 200M series to market in new notebooks. While I can't extol the performance virtues of these chips just yet, I can at least eyeball the specs below and look forward to kicking the tires on a couple of 200M-fueled laptops soon enough.
By the Numbers
396 gigaflops; 96 processor cores; 550MHz graphics clock; 1375MHz processor clock; 1800MHz; 1GB GDDR5 RAM; 128-bit memory width; 38-watt TDP
360 gigaflops; 96 processor cores; 500MHz graphics clock; 1250MHz processor clock; 1600MHz; 1GB GDDR5 RAM; 128-bit memory width; 28-watt TDP
174 gigaflops; 48 processor cores; 550MHz graphics clock; 1210MHz processor clock; 800MHz; 1GB GDDR3 RAM; 128-bit memory width; 23-watt TDP
158 gigaflops; 48 processor cores; 500MHz graphics clock; 1100MHz processor clock; 800MHz; 1GB GDDR3 RAM; 128-bit memory width; 23-watt TDP
72 gigaflops; 16 processor cores; 625MHz graphics clock; 1500MHz processor clock; 800MHz; 512MB GDDR3 RAM; 64-bit memory width; 14-watt TDP