Nvidia announced its first DirectX 11 graphics processing unit (GPU) for laptops in a blog post earlier today. The GeForce GTX 480M, which Nvidia claims is the world's fastest mobile GPU, will be available in laptops starting in June.
The GeForce GTX 480M is based on Nvidia's new Fermi design, which first appeared in the GeForce GTX 470 and GTX 480 desktop GPUs that shipped in early April after a delay due at least in part to manufacturing issues with the foundry's 40nm process. In addition to DX11 support, Fermi is an ambitious redesign that is designed as much for high-performance GPU computing as it is for traditional 3D gaming. The GTX 480M has 352 CUDA cores (Nvidia's name for its stream processors) and is capable of 897 gigaflops (a gigaflop is one billion floating point operations per second). By comparison, the current top-of-the-line GeForce GTS 380M, based on the older GPU design, has 96 CUDA cores and is capable of 413 gigaflops.
Nvidia is emphasizing the tesselation performance of its Fermi GPUs including the GTX 480M. Tesselation is a key feature of the DX11 API that breaks down polygons into lots of smaller triangles that can be used to create more realistic 3D images. The GTX 480M will also support Nvidia's PhysX technology and 3D Vision Surround-Nvidia's answer to AMD's ATI Eyefinity multi-monitor technology--which has been pushed back to sometime in June.
Rival AMD released its first DX11 mobile GPUs at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. AMD claims its ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 is capable of 800 to 1,000 gigaflops. It also offers a dual-GPU solution, the Mobility Radeon 5870, which is used in gaming desktop replacements from vendors such as Dell's Alienware, Asus and Maingear.
The GeForce GTX 480 will show up first in a laptop from Clevo, though Nvidia stated in the blog post that announcements from other computer makers will follow.