Computex: Nvidia launches GeForce 9M series mobile GPUs

Seven new GPUs

Promising up to 40% better performance over its last generation and Hybrid SLI support, Nvidia added seven new mobile GPUs to its notebook lineup this morning. Launching at Computex 2008 in Taipei, the 65nm GeForce 9M series puts the following seven processors at the peak of Nvidia's burgeoning mobile GPU family:

Performance

GeForce 9600M GT (32 compute cores, 120 gigaflops)
GeForce 9600M GS (32 compute cores, 103 gigaflops)
GeForce 9500M G (16 compute cores, 60 gigaflops)

Mainstream

GeForce 9400M
GeForce 9300M GS (8 compute cores, 34 gigaflops)
GeForce 9200M GS (8 compute cores, 31 gigaflops)

Value

GeForce 9100M G (8 compute cores, 26 gigaflops)

Said Nvidia senior vice president Jeff Fisher: "Beginning this summer, GeForce 9M GPUs and Hybrid SLI, paired with AMD and Intel CPUs, will enable a new breed of notebooks. These new notebooks will be optimised to deliver a visual experience and raw computing performance that traditional cookie-cutter notebooks with integrated graphics simply can't touch."

Okay, so he's not saying much at all, is he. The press release goes on to claim "10x faster performance," as if that's going to surprise anyone who's tried to play Oblivion or Half Life 2 on an integrated-GPU laptop. But let's look at some of the other things in the press release:

• The GeForce 9M GPUs will enable the world's first notebooks with Hybrid SLI. What's Hybrid SLI? Nvidia claims it allows two Nvidia GPUs — one low-power, one high-performance — to work cooperatively in the same PC to deliver what it calls "GeForce Boost" and "HybridPower." Think of these features as flip sides of a coin that's always trying to help you get the most out of your battery with the least compromise in visual performance.

• New PureVideo HD processing for improved colour and contrast. Bear in mind a great deal of this is still dependent on physical issues beyond Nvidia's control, like screen types (matte, glossy) and backlighting solutions.

• Full support for the latest Blu-ray Profile 2.0 and Blu-ray Live.

• DVI, HDMI 1.3, Display Port 1.1, and VGA support.

• MXM 3.0 graphics module specification support.

Nvidia's general manager of notebooks business Rene Haas adds: "With the recent addition of advanced features to Blu-ray Live and complexity of DirectX 10 games like Crysis, PC users need more graphics processing performance than today's generic integrated graphics can deliver. The new GeForce 9M series meets this need while also delivering processing muscle beyond gaming and graphics."

Aha, someone said Crysis, i.e. the Holy Grail for 3D performance wonks. Don't get your hopes up just yet, enthusiasts. The 9600M GT — even the unannounced but bet-yer-bottom-dollar forthcoming 9800M GTX — probably won't be capable of smoothly handling Crysis at maximum detail under Vista and DX10 at native resolutions of 1440 x 900 on up to 1920 x 1200 while maintaining average frame rates of 30 fps or higher. I'd wager a 9600M GT is probably on par with (or slightly inferior to) the 8800M GTX in raw performance benchmarks, just like the 8600M GT (3316 3DMark06) was in baseline relation to the old GeForce Go 7800 GTX (4000 3DMark06). Somewhere in here's an important point about thermal improvements, but since both chips are manufactured on a 65nm process, it's hard to see where and how much without actual vendor products.

Nvidia says the new GeForce 9M GPUs will be available in over a hundred notebook models beginning this summer.

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Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
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