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jmke 17th May 2004 23:43

NVIDIA Makes Notebooks’ Graphics Cards Upgradeable
A leading graphics company NVIDIA Corporation today announced a design initiative that has potential to significantly simplify the design of graphics subsystems on mobile computers as well as allow end-users to easily change graphics cards on their notebooks.

MXM – Small Step for NVIDIA, Giant Leap for the Market?

NVIDIA along with Alienware, AOpen, Quanta, Uniwill and Wistron today said that they had jointly designed a special type of interface for plugging-in graphics modules into notebooks. The interface called MXM will be based on PCI Express x16 lane and will be available in computers built by the manufacturers mentioned above later this year. In addition to 16-lane PCI Express, the MXM connector simultaneously handles all electrical signaling for LVDS, VGA, SDTV, HDTV, and two independent DVI outputs. One simple insertion with one connector means easy assembly at the lowest cost.

For notebook manufactures a unified and flexible MXM design initiative means accelerated time-to-market, additional flexibility – by allowing to install different graphics into notebooks with the same platform – and upgradeability, which is crucially important for end-users who acquire notebooks to play the latest 3D games that require robust 3D performance.

NVIDIA plans to roll out its GeForce 6 Go-series graphics products later this year. The graphics processors will feature native PCI Express x16 support and will be compatible with MXM approach.

NVIDIA said the MXM graphics cards will be compatible with solutions from “any vendor”, though, the company did not specify whether the interface will be matched with next-generation solutions of the market leader ATI Technologies or only NVIDIA-based MXM graphics cards will be interchangeable.

Spokespersons for Santa Clara, California-based NVIDIA Corp., and Markham, Ontario-based ATI were not immediately available for comment at press time.

More Hopes for Santa Clara to Win the Share in Mobiles

With only one MOBILITY RADEON 9600 visual processing unit available in a number of versions for various needs, ATI managed to ink contracts with 18 leading notebook OEMs, such as Actebis, Alienware, Apple, Eurocom, Fujitsu, Fujitsu-Siemens, Gateway, Gericom, HP, Hypersonic, IBM, Medion, Multivision, Packard Bell, Prostar, Sager, and VoodooPC. All these companies are able to offer 37 different mobile PC with different configurations designed for variety of purposes, including systems for desktop computer replacement, as well as truly mobile powerful workstations you can always take with you, such as HP nw8000 with professional version of the MOBILITY RADEON 9600 announced late in 2003.

NVIDIA Corporation has about 16 design wins not counting small white box vendors with its GeForce FX Go5600 and GeForce FX Go5200 GPUs also available in different flavours to reflect customers’ requirements. NVIDIA has not announced any design wins with its professional Quadro FX Go700 so far. From 8 to 10 notebook OEMs now supply NVIDIA’s mobile DirectX 9.0 products, according to the company’s estimates. The list of NVIDIA’s DirectX 9.0 mobile partners includes Apple, Alienware, Dell, HP, Medion, Toshiba, Sony and some smaller firms.

In the third quarter of 2003 ATI maintained its leadership position with 71% share in mobile standalone graphics chip market, according to Mercury Research. NVIDIA held 21% of the market, XGI (SiS’ and Trident’s shares included) had 6%, Silicon Motion and VIA supplied 2% of mobile GPUs.

Both leading graphics companies unleashed their mobile graphics processors with DirectX 9.0 and some other modern technologies support at CeBIT 2003 in March last year, but ATI Technologies has been traditionally more successful with its solution for mobile computers than its rival. But with agressive time-to-market and advanced technologies like MXM, NVIDIA has loads of chances to win additional designs in the high-margin notebook market.

Both NVIDIA and ATI Technologies will supply mobile versions of the GeForce 6-series and RADEON X-series graphics processors into the market later this year.

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