Nvidia takes its show on the road

CeBIT: The chip maker's new GeForce FX Go aims for advanced features and support for the latest games while keeping power usage to a minimum

Nvidia on Thursday announced its latest mobile graphics processing unit (GPU) at CeBIT 2003 in Hannover, enabling what Nvidia calls "cinematic computing on the go" -- very realistic graphics in a notebook PC.

While the GeForce FX Go may not have quite the same level of performance as the desktop equivalent, Nvidia claims that it does at least have the same level of features, allowing the very latest games to run on both mobile and desktop PCs.

Despite the abundance of features, Nvidia claims that extra power saving technology means the FX Go will have not only fast graphics, but a long battery life as well. Two models of the chip are available: the GeForce FX Go5600 is a high performance part, while the Go5200 is a lower-cost mainstream part. Both chips support the programmable vertex and pixel shader features in the DirectX 9.0 API -- crucial if they're to run the latest game titles.

Nvidia calls its power-saving technology PowerMizer 3.0. It consists of a number of measures: the chips are manufactured using a 0.13 micron process, and they use clock gating -- shutting down unused parts of the chip -- in addition to voltage and frequency regulation to keep both power consumption and heat dissipation to a minimum.

Nvidia also claims that battery life is extended through the GeForce FX Go offloading tasks from the main CPU, allowing that to enter a low-power state. Figures quoted at the launch gave the CPU utilisation while watching a DVD movie at around 10 per cent.

Games publisher Electronic Arts was on hand at the launch to support Nvidia. EA plans to test all its new titles not only with the desktop GeForce FX chips, but also the mobile versions.

Toshiba was also present to talk about the inclusion of the GeForce FX Go in its notebook PCs. Nvidia has made the GeForce FX Go chips pin-compatible with the previous GeForce 4 Go chip, reducing manufacturers' development costs when including the new chips.

Sample chips are available to manufacturers now, and finished products featuring the new GPUs are expected to ship in April.


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