Nvidia cranks up notebook graphics

Nvidia is stoking the action in notebook gaming with the introduction this week of the GeForce FX GO5700. The chip is expected to appear first in notebooks from Toshiba and Alienware in the first quarter of 2004.

The GeForce FX GO5700 is an update to the GeForce 5600 Nvidia rolled out in March.

New functions

The most dramatic improvement in the new chip is its capability to reproduce multiple shadow and lighting effects without impacting frame rates, says Rob Csonger, general manager for Nvidia's Mobile and Embedded Business unit.

Demonstrations here at Comdex, which aren't always the best way to judge new graphics chips, reveal excellent shadow-and-light effects that will please gamers and game developers. Video imaging is especially impressive, particularly when HD quality content was displayed on a Toshiba notebook screen. (PC World will later test the shipping chip).

Csonger says the GeForce FX GO5700 will display 17 ranges of black and runs at 1.1 volts. The chip will also display HD video signals and works with PowerMizer 4.0 technology for power and battery management.

"A year ago, there was no such thing as a mobile gaming PC. Six months ago, there was no such thing as 17-inch (LCD) notebook, no such thing as the ability to pre-record television shows, no such thing as DirectX 9 on notebooks," Csonger notes. "All those things were made possible first by our GO5600. Now, we want to take it up another notch."

Boosting notebooks

No doubt this year's explosion in notebook sales was ignited by the launch of high-end graphics chips that made the terms "multimedia notebook" and "gamer notebook" something much more than marketing-speak. Nvidia wants to keep the fire blazing.

Chips from graphics CPU rivals Nvidia and ATI brought true desktop graphic processing to notebooks, making it possible to play demanding 3D games like Unreal Tournament, watch movies, and TV. What's more, users can do all that without the pain that usually accompanied such tasks on older notebooks.

The introduction of high-power graphics in notebooks turns what were principally business products into something that consumers now clearly believe can replace a desktop system.

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Ramon G. McLeod

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