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Nvidia rolls out mobile graphics add-in card format

MXM to make notebooks as easy to upgrade as desktops

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Nvidia today rolled out its Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) specification, a move it hopes will one day see notebook users swapping out old graphics chips for new ones as easily as desktops users do today.

MXM details three module formats, each designed to meet the demands and operating envelopes of the key notebook market segments. MXM I is geared toward thin'n'light laptops, MXM II to mainstream machines and MXM III is intended for desktop replacements.

Each sub-spec. defines its own power and heat dissipation parameters to allow cards within each category to be swapped out for a similarly specced unit.

Nvidia's MXM PCI Express add-in card

That contrasts with today's market where notebooks with user-exchangeable graphics do exist but are largely the province of a few, specialist vendors. And upgrades generally apply across a narrow range of graphics chips.

Nvidia said it was opening up the MXM spec. to allow other chip vendors and any number of notebook vendors to support the initiative. Beyond the association with Nvidia, it's hard to see why they wouldn't. Notebooks are taking an ever greater share of the PC market, and without MXM or something like it, there's unlikely ever to be much in the way of a mobile graphics after-market.

Nvidia said it had already won the backing of Far Eastern ODMs like Quanta, Wistron, FIC, Uniwill, Clevo, AOpen, Tatung, Arima, Asustek and Mitac, all of whom have said they will offer MXM-based notebooks. Since these ten already account for many of the world's name and no-name notebooks, MXM is likely to grow by stealth, becoming a de facto standard.

Nvidia will soon be ready with product. It said it will deliver the next generation of its GeForce Go mobile chips, version 6, on MXM add-in cards. ®

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