By Barry Levine / Top Tech News. Updated September 03, 2010.
New notebooks with the Nvidia GeForce 400M series of graphics processing units (GPUs) are being released this fall, and on Friday the chipmaker introduced the new chips at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany. The new series includes the GeForce GTX 470M and GTX 460M for enthusiasts, and the GT 445M, 435M, 425M, 420M, and 415M for performance users.
The notebooks are expected from such leading manufacturers as Acer, ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and others. In particular, Nvidia is emphasizing the use of Optimus and 3D Vision technology in the 400M series computers.
Optimus, Fermi, Direct X
Optimus is intended to allow high-performance users to have their graphics-intensive cake, along with enough battery power to enjoy it. By automatically switching the GPU on and off as needed, the company said "extra-long" battery life is available.
Discrete graphics processors are becoming more popular, as they can provide better performance for games and other multimedia. Optimus utilizes discrete graphics processing for intensive tasks, and integrated graphics for less-demanding efforts, thus saving battery life. The company said this power-conserving approach "has been described by reviewers as among the most important notebook technologies to come to market in recent years."
Nvidia said the GPUs will be about 40 percent faster than the 300M series. The 400M series are the first processors for notebooks using the company's Fermi architecture, and they have been designed "from the ground up" for support of Direct X 11, the latest version of Microsoft's graphics technology.
The chips are also designed for stereo 3-D images, when used with a 3-D display and the company's 3D Vision glasses. Two of the upcoming notebooks supporting 3D Vision will be the Acer Aspire 5745DG, with the GT 425M, and the ASUS G53Jw, with the GTX 460M. Other notebooks can utilize Nvidia's 3DTV Play, enabling notebooks to be connected to a 3-D TV for viewing.
3-D on Laptops
As the 3-D rollout on TV sets continues, the technology is now moving to laptops. Earlier this week, Sony showed at IFA prototypes of upcoming VAIO laptops that will offer 3-D video with active-shutter glasses. It also demoed or announced new 3-D games, a 3-D firmware update for Blu-ray DVD players and the PlayStation 3 video-game console, and plans for a 3-D TV channel.
Nvidia is pitching its 3-D capabilities not only for fun, but for work as well. It said its 3D Vision technology delivers the quality needed by designers, engineers, digital artists, and scientists for a single display or a multi-projector wall.
The new GPUs also offer Graphics Plus features, including PhysX support for realistic physics effects in games, CUDA support for computing applications, and Verde notebook drivers. PhysX helps to create more life-like explosions, water, characters and flying debris, and CUDA uses a parallel-computing architecture to increase performance.