Mobile GPU Q1/2004 Update - ATI M10, M11, and NVIDIA's NV36Mby Andrew Ku on January 28, 2004 2:30 PM EST
- Posted in
Final WordsSo, the stage is set and we should expect to see notebooks based on both GPUs out shortly; we expect within a month. With the Go5600, NVIDIA was able to ship systems out overseas and small quantities domestically a few months after the announcement, while ATI took a lot longer. What is odd this time around is that while NVIDIA announced before ATI, shipping notebooks and design wins will be announced about the same time for both companies. This is at least what is being suggested from our talks with system manufacturers.
Ideally, we would like to see shipping notebooks out within a week or two of a product launch. ATI's Mobility Radeon 9600 and NVIDIA's GeForce FX Go56X0 both took almost 6 months before we finally saw them in some tangible retail systems. Granted, they were in other overseas markets, but the main technology market is still North America. NVIDIA has a lost opportunity to do this for the Go5700, but ATI has a chance to do this with M11. Hopefully, they will continue to follow the tradition of the Mobility Radeon 9000, which was touted as the first mobile graphics chip to be announced and shipped within a week. The benefit behind this is that all the expectations and hype can be backed up quickly based on shipping systems, instead of waiting months to verify specs like core and memory clocks.
In the past, ATI and NVIDIA officially announced clocks for their mobile products equivalent to that of or close to their desktop product line. This makes it easier to present their mobile GPU solutions to SIs and SDs at ODMs and system manufacturers, since it helps gives their clients an approximate sense of expected performance. These clocks are really at the mercy of system manufacturers, since every notebook design has a different cooling system, and therefore, different thermal budget. The official clocks are more of an internal target than anything else, and we would like to continue to see clocks that are more realistic of shipping clock speeds. Obviously, "officially announcing" clocks that are unrealistically high helps gain design wins by enticing system manufacturing clients, but in the end, notebook owners are alienated that clock speeds are lower than "announced" and thus, so is performance.
NVIDIA has a challenge ahead of themselves. They need to stay up to par with ATI from a market share perspective due to the effect of branding, which will make the typical prospective notebook buyer identify the Mobile Radeon or GeForce FX Go lineup. NVIDIA is still new to the mobile market, so technically, any new market share is good for them, but for perception sake, performance needs to be competitive. NVIDIA will be in a weaker position if the Go5700 turns out to be competitive with ATI's Mobility Radeon 9600. The desktop NV36 cards are much more promising, and we hope to see NVIDIA bring back some competition to the mobile GPU market. We have a month or so before we can finally sort out all the details, so the verdict is still out...