Nvidia GeForce 2 MX targets mobile market

Though the company barely mentions the fact

Nvidia yesterday launched its latest graphics accelerator, the GeForce 2 MX, formerly known by its codename, NV11 - the successor to the GeForce 256, which the company launched last autumn.

Based on a 0.18 micron process - the GeForce 256 was fabbed at 0.22 micron - and drawing less than 5W of power (look, ma, no heat sink...) the GeForce 2 MX marks Nvidia's first real assault on the mobile market, though it's interesting that the company preferred to stress its role in mainstream desktop PC arena.

The GeForce 2 MX offers comparable performance to the GeForce 256, though it's based on the GeForce 2 GTS. As such it offers the latter's second-generation texture and lighting engine, and per-pixel shading. However, it only contains two rendering pipelines - the GeForce 2 GTS has four. It can churn out 700 million texels per second or 20 million polygons per second and runs at 175MHz.

Curiously, the GeForce 2 MX possesses features missing from the more powerful part. Specifically, it supports two monitors simultaneously - an option dubbed 'TwinView' by Nvidia - and Digital Vibrance Control, Nvidia's name for the established process of gamma control.

Nvidia said the GeForce 2 MX will ship at the $100 price point, roughly a third of the price of the full GeForce 2 GTS. The target market is the corporate PC, though the company also said it's aimed at the $800-1500 desktop arena, which is pretty much everything except budget models and high-end gaming enthusiast-oriented machines. The new chip's positioning, then, pushes the current 128-bit TNT 2 line right down to the bottom of the field, a space already occupied by Nvidia's Vanta line, 64-bit TNT and the Aladdin TNT 2 SoC chipset co-developed with Acer. It's hard to see Vanta and TNT staying economic for much longer - if they still are - so we expect some trimming at the bottom end of Nvidia's line-up.

As for the mobile market, Nvidia does appear to be playing this one cautiously. ATI rules the roost here, and clearly Nvidia doesn't want to make too many 'empire-toppling' boasts in case notebook OEMs don't pick up on the GeForce 2 MX after all. Still, TwinView is clearly aimed at the notebook market, where many users want to hook up a large screen and use the on-board LCD. And GeForce 2 MX's spec. should give ATI pause for thought until it can get a Radeon Mobile out to replace the Rage 128 Mobility. ®

  • For a long time, Chipzilla's favourite 3D graphics company was S3, but we noted at the GeForce 2 MX launch a recommendation from an Intel guy, one Tony Sica, marketing director at the company's desktop products group, that Intel is now recommending the new Nvidia chip for use with the AGP 4x 815 chipset. No great surprise this: S3's sale of its 3D chip business to Intel chipset rival Via, has clearly left a bad taste in the leviathan's mouth. And, in any case, it has access to these lovely Exponential Technology patents, and that, after all, is really the only thing it wanted from S3.

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