Nvidia Corp. today announced the newest generation of its mobile graphics processing unit, codenamed NV17M. The new unit sports improved power management, an integrated video processing engine, antialiasing technology, and what Nvidia bills as “an ultra efficient memory architecture.”
Nvidia said that its new mobile GPU is the first to feature custom anti-aliasing hardware designed specifically for notebook computers. Real-time anti-aliasing smoothes the edges of graphics to help provide a more realistic look. Nvidia said its anti-aliasing techniques produce high frame rates and crisp, clean visuals, regardless of the XGA (1024 x 768 pixel) resolution on most laptop displays.
Nvidia said that the new mobile processor sports an integrated architecture that gets the entire AGP graphics subsystem, including up to 64MB of frame buffer memory — onto a space that the GPU itself would have occupied previously. The new design enables notebook computer manufacturers to more efficiently and quickly integrate the new GPU design into their own systems, since they don’t have to create memory management or storage for the graphics subsystem.
Answering the biggest complaint of critics who were unimpressed by the power consumption characteristics of Nvidia’s first portable offering, the GeForce2 Go, Nvidia has incorporated “PowerMizer” technology into the NV17M. PowerMizer is a power-modulation system comprised of both hardware and software that enables the chip to adjust its power usage depending on application demands and user preferences, according to Nvidia.
The Video Processing Engine, or VPE, offloads the decoding, processing and playback of video and DVD content from the CPU. It incorporates its own hardware MPEG2 decoder, and also includes a sub picture alpha blend processor and de-interlacing circuitry.
Apple utilizes Nvidia competitor ATI’s line of mobile processors in its iBook and PowerBook G4 systems. The iBook uses ATI’s RAGE Mobility 128 processor with 8MB of SDRAM on a 2x AGP interface, while the recently upgraded PowerBook G4 now sports ATI’s Mobility Radeon graphics chip with 16MB of DDR RAM on a 4x AGP bus.
It’s entirely possible, however, that Apple could make the switch to Nvidia mobile graphics hardware if it so chose — the core chip architecture is Mac-compatible. Nvidia said the new GPUs are in volume production now, and will be available in notebooks beginning in early 2002.