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Nvidia takes GeForce 8M laptop GPUs on the road

Drops the 'Go'

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Nvidia has rolled out a whopping 15 laptop-centric GPUs most, but not all, based on the chip maker's eighth-generation architecture and stretching from AMD-oriented budget systems through to Intel- and AMD-based high-end rigs.

The key parts are the GeForce 8400M G, GS and GT, and the 8600M GS and GT. Moving along the line, the chips contain eight, 16, 16, 16 and 32 unified shader units, respectively. The cores are each clocked at 400, 400, 450, 600 and 475MHz.

Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT mobile GPU

The 8400Ms connect to up to 256MB of memory across a 64-bit bus, the 8600Ms to 512MB of VRAM across a 128-bit bus. The five chips' memory clocks are set to 600, 600, 600, 700 and 700MHz, respectively.

Nvidia said it was aiming the 8600Ms at the performance market segment and the 8400Ms at mainstream notebooks. That leaves a gap at the top, that might logically be filled by a GeForce 8800M chip, but the company wouldn't be drawn on its plans to fill that niche.

Today also saw the debut of a quartet of Quadro NVS chips, all aimed at graphics cards destined to be installed in business-oriented systems: the 130M, 135M, 140M and 320M. They're based on the same core as the 8400M and 8600M chips, as are the three new mobile workstation chips: the Quadro FX 360M, 570M and 1600M.

The Quadro FX 1600M, available with up to 512MB GDDR 3 memory, and the Quadro FX 570M, offering up to 256MB GDDR 3 memory, feature a 128-bit memory interface, support for OpenGL 2.1 and DirectX 10, and adaptive power management tools. The Quadro FX 360M, designed for thin and light, entry-level mobile workstations, offers similar features as the other 8M-class GPUs, with up to 256MB GDDR 3 memory and a 64-bit memory interface.

The GeForce 8M series builds on the old GeForce Go 7 series - you'll note that Nvidia had dropped the 'Go' this time round - with its DirectX 10-friendly unified shader architecture and an improved video processing engine. The new core, like its predecessor, contains a standalone display processor unit, but it also incorporates an AES128 encryption engine and a bitstream processor to allow more stages of the HD content decoding process to be handled by the GPU.

Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT - Toshiba Qosmio G40
Toshiba Qosmio G40

Indeed, Nvidia claimed the 8M chips can do H.264 video decoding largely without bothering the host CPU, knocking the CPU utilisation for the process down from around 60 per cent in the 7 series to around 20 per cent.

The upshot: system power consumption is reduced, boosting battery life. Nvidia said the 8M series consumes no more power than the 7 series but delivers twice the performance. The reduced CPU utilisation - once supported by applications, of course - allows even HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc playback to be handled by lower-end systems, even single-core CPUs, than is the case today.

Nvidia said it expects the 8M series and the new Quadro parts to find homes in the latest Centrino Duo and Centrino Pro laptops due to arrive over the coming months. However, it also launched three single-chip integrated chipsets today, all of them aimed at AMD-based notebooks. Branded the GeForce 7000M, 7150M and 7190M, the GPUs are integrated into a single package that also contains, respectively, the nForce 610M, 630M and 640M southbridges.

Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT - HP Pavilion dv9000
HP Pavilion dv9000

Toshiba and HP are among the first notebook vendors to announce laptops fitted with the members of the 8400M and 8600M series. HP launched the Pavilion dv2000, dv6000 and dv9000, while Toshiba unveiled the Qosmio G40.

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