The G70 and the XPS M170 DebutToday, Dell has introduced the next version of their high performance XPS notebook series. The new XPS M170 is similar to the previous model with a few key upgrades. In keeping with their exemplary track record, NVIDIA has announced the GeForce Go 7800 GTX in coordination with the first product launch containing their part. The $349 upgrade to the Go 6800 Ultra can be added to any XPS M170 purchase. Paired with the Pentium M 780, this machine will be an absolute mobile(?) monster.
The new Go 7800 GTX will be clocked at 400 MHz with 256MB of 1.1GHz GDDR3. The hardware is basically the same as the desktop version of the 7800 GTX with NVIDIA's power saving features enabled. This means 8 vertex pipelines and 24 pixel pipelines running with all the goodness of the G70's enhanced ability to handle math more effectively. The core clock is a little slower than the previous generation's 450MHz, but what it lacks in clock speed, it should more than make up for in terms of performance.
We were told that the enhancements to NVIDIA's mobile power management don't add any new features but simply enhance the granularity of their clock gating among other enhancements to efficiency. Graphics companies don't handle chip design the same way as a processor company. We won't see things like hand designed dynamic logic on a GPU - they are simply too complex to spend that much time going over at that detail. Process shrinks and architectural efficiency are also of the utmost importance to keeping GPUs fast and low power, and NVIDIA certainly has an advantage in the mobile space with the G70 design.
These notebooks are aimed squarely at the desktop replacement market, and NVIDIA's top end notebook solution doesn't make any apologies for this. The power budget given to the Go 7800 GTX is the same as the budget provided to the Go 6800 Ultra in the previous model. While the power efficiencies of this part are of interest, we will be more excited to learn what NVIDIA can do at even lower power levels considering the performance per watt possible on G70.
With the late launch of ATI's desktop parts, it will certainly be a while before we see any next generation mobile hardware from them either, but we expect the technological battle to be pretty fierce. Certainly, the availability of a mobile NVIDIA part with the lack of a competitive chip from ATI will cause OEMs and ODMs to lean towards NVIDIA for a while. While modular PCIe mobile graphics solutions are a reality, product cycles in the notebook market are still much longer than on the desktop. The initial advantage NVIDIA has here could translate to difficulty for ATI for quite some time.
For now, our Go 7800 GTX notebook has just arrived: we are off to run some performance tests and see if the new mobile part from NVIDIA is really worth the hype.