Traditionally, 3D graphics in notebook computers has trailed the desktop PC by several months, if not more. The constraints of mobile computing introduce a unique set of challenges that make it difficult for graphics manufacturers to implement their latest eye-catching features. Chief among these is power, while desktop PCs have a constant source of power laptops are frequently forced to rely on their battery. When you factor in other issues such as heat and size, the challenge becomes even more daunting.
GeForce4 Go: Ti 4200 for notebook
Last year the notebook market took a pretty dramatic step forward with the GeForce4 Go. While its introduction trailed the launch of GeForce4 Ti on the desktop by over six months, it marked the first time in the history of the mobile market that a true desktop performance part had been introduced into a laptop computer. Previous mobile graphics products had been based on desktop parts in the value segment, such as NVIDIA’s GeForce4 MX or ATI’s RADEON 9000. GeForce4 Go’s introduction wasn’t all roses however, as the NV28 core it was based on was designed for desktops, it lacked an integrated TV encoder and LVDS transmitter, features that notebook manufacturers had to implement externally. In addition, its 63 million transistor core drew a lot of power.
NVIDIA tried to get around this by lowering its core and memory clock frequencies, but the chip still drew a considerable amount of power for a mobile part. As a result, battery life became a major limiting factor, ultimately confining GeForce4 Go to the high-end desktop replacement segment of the notebook market. The chip did put NVIDIA back ahead of ATI in performance and features, but its limited availability has always been a bit of a sore spot.
Today NVIDIA is introducing two new successors to its GeForce Go series, and each brings DirectX 9 graphics to the notebook. Replacing the high-end GeForce4 Go is the GeForce FX Go5600, while the GeForce4 440 Go is replaced by the GeForce FX Go5200 for the mainstream segment. If you’re familiar with NVIDIA’s announcements from GDC last week, chances are you recognize these products as the GeForce FX 5600 on the desktop PC (formerly codenamed NV31) and GeForce FX 5200 (internally codenamed NV34).
While previous notebook graphics launches trailed their desktop counterparts by months, with the GeForce FX architecture NVIDIA has stepped up the pace considerably: these chips will being shipping in April, the same timeframe as NVIDIA’s desktop parts!