ATI has dominated high-end notebook graphics chipsets lately, a position that has proved to be very lucrative due to the increased interest in mobile gaming. In fact it’s been hard to find a notebook vendor that supplies a gaming notebook based on any technology other than ATI for some time, but that’s about to change.
After pulling back a significant amount of mind share in the desktop high-end graphics market, nVidia is now attacking ATI’s stranglehold on the mobile graphics sector by launching the GeForce GO 6800.
As the name would suggest, the GeForce GO 6800 is based on the same technology as the desktop GeForce 6800 chipset. Just like the desktop GeForce 6800 card, the GeForce GO 6800 chipset sports 12 pixel pipelines and five vertex pipelines. There will be two flavours of GO 6800 – the basic version will have a core clock speed of 300MHz, with 256MB of DDR memory running at 300MHz (600MHz effective). The high-end GO 6800 will sport a core frequency of 450MHz while the 256MB of GDDR3 memory will run at 600MHz (1.2GHz effective). That said, the early samples will run a slightly lower core clock at 275MHz and memory at 500MHz.
Just like its desktop cousin, the GeForce GO 6800 has full support for Shader Model 3.0, so you’ll be able to fire up Far Cry with the 1.3 patch and enjoy all that extra detail, while maintaining a solid frame rate. Shader Model 3.0 inclusion, also means that the GeForce GO 6800 supports instancing – allowing massively detailed scenes to be created, while keeping the polygon count down and consequently the frame rate up.
Surprisingly, nVidia hasn’t resorted to Low-K technology for the manufacturing process of the GeForce GO 6800. Using a Low-K dielectric process improves insulation between circuits in order to prevent cross-talk – this extra insulation means that less power is needed and consequently less heat is produced.
I asked Rob Csongor (General Manager, Mobile Business at nVidia) why Low-K dielectric technology was not employed, and he said that using Low-K technology would have limited the performance of the chip. Another answer could have been that nVidia didn’t have access to a Low-K facility in order to adopt the technology, but I guess we’ll never know.
Obviously nVidia was making a big noise about the performance of the GeForce GO 6800, and the demos that were shown at the briefing were very impressive indeed. However, as always, we’ll reserve our judgement until we get a suitably equipped notebook in the lab and throw the latest 3D benchmarks at it ourselves.
nVidia was also shouting about Pure Video – the new video processing engine integrated into the GeForce GO 6800. Pure Video definitely seems to have some cool features that make watching video on your notebook a more pleasing experience. There’s hardware acceleration for High Definition video in both MPEG and WMV formats, while improved gamma correction and colour temperature correction make for a more natural looking image.