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NVIDIA is ready to deliver on last week's promise

When we think of notebook computers which use Intel Pentium Dual Core, Core 2 Solo, or Core 2 Duo processors, the systems are usually paired with an Intel Northbridge and Southbridge. Intel hopes to carry on this tradition with its Centrino 2 platform which is slated to launch during the summer.

NVIDIA, however, has plans of its own when it comes to mobile platforms for Intel-based notebooks. NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang recently called Intel out on its integrated desktop/mobile graphics performance. Huang even went so far as to say that NVIDIA would "open a can of whoop ass" when it comes to its upcoming products.

It appears that NVIDIA's first few cans of "whoop ass" are just now leaving the factory and they are labeled MCP79. MCP79 is a new single-chip integrated chipset for "small form factor" notebooks according to NVIDIA. Each variant of MCP79 incorporates a DX10-capable GeForce graphics controller supporting Shader Model 4.0, NVIDIA's VP3 video processor, and support for Hybrid Power/Hybrid SLI/Hybrid Performance.

In addition, MCP79 features a single-channel TMDS interface for HDMI 1.2, support for a 1066 MHz FSB, 800 MHz DDR2, 1333 MHz DDR3 memory support, 3 Gbps SATA/eSATA, NVIDIA DriveCache (similar to Intel Turbo Memory), an NVIDIA GbE controller, High Definition Audio, TPM 1.2, and up to 20 PCIe 2.0 lanes.

NVIDIA has plans for six members of the MCP79 family. On the low-end, the MCP79ML lacks such features as RAID 0/1, PCIe x16, DisplayCache, and DriveCache. The MCP79GLM will feature a Quadro-based graphics controller instead of GeForce and the MCP79-SLI will support NVIDIA SLI as its name implies. Other members of the family include the MCP79MH, MCP79MX, and MCP79MVL.

NVIDIA's MCP79 family will be going toe-to-toe with Intel's Centrino 2 platform (Montevina) in June. Montevina Northbridges will include the integrated GM45/GM47 and the discrete PM45. The integrated Northbridges will incorporate Intel's new X4500 HD graphics processor (DX10, HDMI, DisplayPort) which NVIDIA doesn't think too highly of at this point in time. Like NVIDIA's MCP79, Centrino 2 chipset will support DDR2/DDR3 memory and support FSB's up to 1066MHz.

Since the Centrino platform won't be a single-chip solution like NVIDIA's offering, the GM45/GM47 and PM45 will be paired with either the ICH9M or ICH9-M Enhanced Southbridge.

It's shaping up to be an interesting summer with NVIDIA and Intel battling it out in the notebook platform sector. If flash manufacturers could expedite their downward trend for solid-state drives, the outlook would be even better for consumers.



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Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By Ajax9000 on 4/23/2008 7:46:17 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
In addition, MCP79 features a single-channel TMDS interface for HDMI 1.2, ... High Definition Audio, TPM 1.2, and up to 20 PCIe 2.0 lanes.


At the moment all the PC audio solutions are stuck at SPDIF <> DD <> AC3-class audio (up to 1.5Mbps).

HDMI 1.2 audio supports multi-channel HD audio up to 6.144Mbps. That isn't enough for "DTS-HD Master Audio" and "Dolby TrueHD Audio", but it is sufficent for HD formats such as DD+.

So will MCP79 enable HD audio over HDMI?




RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By omnicronx on 4/23/2008 10:02:55 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize LPCM has a higher bitrate than both TrueHD and DTS-MA as it is basically the uncompressed form. I have heard the same story many times but I just dont buy it. HDMI 1.3 does have almost twice the bandwidth, but its probably more a matter of manufacturers wanted to release HDMI devices, but both dolby and DTS were not ready to roll out.


RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By Ajax9000 on 4/23/2008 10:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You do realize LPCM has a higher bitrate ...

Yes I do; IIRC Intel HDA supports up to 8 channel LPCM @ 192kHz @ 32 bit (=48Mbps). But I'm not quite sure what you are getting at. As this item is regarding a chipset that outputs HDMI 1.2, clearly the HDMI output will only be able to use "lesser" HD formats such as DD+. TrueHD vs DTS-MA vs 8-ch LPCM is not really relevant to this device -- unless there is a question about the chipset being able to down-convert to 6Mbps.


RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By omnicronx on 4/23/2008 11:09:24 PM , Rating: 2
HDMI 1.2 clearly states that it can only transport those codecs via bitstream, this does not mean that you can not decode the stream and output it as LPCM, both should be bit for bit identical to the master, thats my point. And I don't know why you keep pointing out the 6mpbs limit. With hdmi there is no independent audio stream, the audio is transported in the whitespace of the video.

I bring this up because the only reason you need DTS-MA and TruHD support is while watching movies, and most new windows software that can play BD's/HD-DVD supports decoding audio to LPCM. Regardless of which way of you transmit the data, the result should still be identical to the master. If you can explain how either lossless codec delivers something that we are missing from hdmi 1.2 besides your receiver flashing 'DTS-MA' then my ears are open.


RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By Ajax9000 on 4/24/2008 12:18:02 AM , Rating: 2
I see what you're getting at now thanks.

I keep mentioning 6Mbps because HDMI 1.2 states that it can carry up to four 96kHz dual channel LPCM audiostreams (=6.144Mbps data rate for the normal 16 bit encoding) or compressed equivilant. These streams get encoded into the data islands in the video blanking. HDMI 1.3 added an additional type of data encoding for compressed audio streams over 6.144Mbps (Specification clause 5.3.11).

So it is my understanding from the two HDMI specification documents, and from commentary/analysis on the Internet, that HDMI 1.2 is limited to an audio data rate of 6.144Mbps.

I'm happy to be corrected on this -- can you let me know the page number of the HDMI 1.2 spec that details how higher data rate audio is done.


RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 1:28:51 AM , Rating: 2
Read this part in the hdmi spec.
7.1 Relationship with IEC 60958/IEC 61937

It all has to do with the process they call 'Audio Sample Clock Capture and Regeneration'

quote:
Audio data being carried across the HDMI link, which is driven by a TMDS clock running at a rate corresponding to the video pixel rate, does not retain the original audio sample clock. The task of recreating this clock at the Sink is called Audio Clock Regeneration.

I took me a few minutes to actually wrap my head around it, so I know how confusing it sounds.
quote:
Whenever transmitting a valid audio stream, HDMI Sources shall always include valid and correct information in Channel Status bits 24 through 27. For L-PCM audio, these bits shall indicate the audio sample frequency. For compressed audio formats, these bits shall indicate the IEC 60958 frame rate. An HDMI audio stream shall only indicate values shown in Table 7-4. Note that the allowed values do not include the IEC 60958-specified “Sample frequency not indicated” value.
(you need to see the table)

Simply put the audio stream is sent down as part of the video stream, but they are able to change the audio sample clock speed but in the end both bitstream and lpcm are sent down in similar ways. It simply comes down to the fact that HDMI 1.2 devices do not support IEC 60958 formats and HDMI 1.3 does.

Whether or not this is because the new formats were not finalized in time, or some other reason is up in the air, I doubt anyone except for the guys at HDMI consortium, and Dolby/DTS know for sure.


By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 1:46:56 AM , Rating: 2
*support IEC 61937 formats and HDMI 1.3 does.*
I am still not convinced the TMDS bandwidth increase is actually needed for bitstream, although for deep colour, xvYCC and other 1.3 features it is probably required. (and don't get me started on deep colour, which is useless unless you have an expensive 1080p sony camcorder or you are waiting for the next iteration of consoles, as both the BD and ATSC spec only support colour depths up to 8bit, and thats never going to change)


RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 2:02:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I keep mentioning 6Mbps because HDMI 1.2 states that it can carry up to four 96kHz dual channel LPCM audiostreams
Where did you read this? I assure you this is not the case. May I suggest you read this post on 'futureproofing' receivers on avsforums.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=73...

I personally own a yamaha HTR-6060 which only supports hdmi 1.2a, and I enjoy LPCM in all its 6/8 channel greatness while watching my BD's.(I say 6/8 because it depends on the track ;))


RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By Ajax9000 on 4/24/2008 2:36:58 AM , Rating: 2
I probably could have expressed it better. I wasn't saying HDMI 1.2 couldn't do 8-ch. I was trying to summarise:-

HDMI 1.2, page 9:
quote:
Basic audio functionality consists of a single IEC 60958 L-PCM audio stream at sample rates of 32kHz, 44.1kHz or 48kHz. This can accommodate any normal stereo stream. Optionally, HDMI can carry a single such stream at sample rates up to 192KHz or from two to four such streams (3 to 8 audio channels) at sample rates up to 96KHz. HDMI can also carry an IEC 61937 compressed (e.g. surround-sound) audio stream at sample rates up to 192kHz. HDMI can also carry from 2 to 8 channels of One Bit Audio.


And clause 7.6 (both versions):
quote:
Audio Data Packetization Each Subpacket of an Audio Sample Packet shall contain zero or one IEC 60958-defined "frames" of an IEC 60958 or IEC 61937 "block." There are two defined Subpacket layouts. ...


Mind you, the information in Table 7.5 seems to contradict 1.2 page 9 ...

Thanks for the AVS thread.


RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 10:38:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Optionally, HDMI can carry a single such stream at sample rates up to 192KHz or from two to four such streams (3 to 8 audio channels) at sample rates up to 96KHz.
I think you answered you own question :) The max sample rate you will see on any LPCM track is 96hz/24bit. LPCM only supports 4 streams up to 192khz, but 3-8 at sample rates of 96khz. Where the confusion lies is both TrueHD and DTS-MA support up to 192khz/24 bit sound. The problem is, not many receivers support that sample rate, and the ones that do will probably remain out the pricerange of most people, even in the mid range.

No movie, whether it be DTS-MA, True-HD or LPCM has had a track that has exceeded 5Mbps(so no studio has had a multichannel 192khz track). Chances are, Studios are not going to bump up the sample rate either, as it is not worth the extra space needed for the few audiophiles that will be able to take advantage. To tell you the truth, many TrueHD titles are only 48khz/16bit, right now 48/24 seems to be the standard, I have not seen any lossless 96/24 tracks(not that they do not exist, I just do not own/havnt personally found any)


By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 11:03:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
No movie, whether it be DTS-MA, True-HD or LPCM has had a track that has exceeded 5Mbps(so no studio has had a multichannel 192khz track).
I would also like to note, that right now studio masters are not going to be recorded in 192khz/24, in fact most are probably 48/24 and maybe 96/24. 96/24 at the moment is mostly reserved for studio audio recordings, thats about it.


RE: Will it support HD audio over HDMI?
By Ajax9000 on 4/24/2008 3:43:52 AM , Rating: 2
Odd ... my reply didn't turn up .. don't have time to redo now, so in short:

I was summarising page 9 of v1.2 and Clause 7.6 (both versions). I wasn't trying to imply that 1.2 couldn't do 8ch, just the data rate limitations thereof.


By Ajax9000 on 4/24/2008 3:44:44 AM , Rating: 2
Great. Now it turns up!


Power
By cochy on 4/23/2008 4:11:49 PM , Rating: 2
This is where the battle will be won or lost. Nvidia chipset are known for being power hungry beasts. This flaw will be magnified on a mobile platform. I don't care if Nvidia can do DX 10.x.x.x if my battery can last 1 hour longer on Centrino, I'm going that way.




RE: Power
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 4/23/2008 4:26:42 PM , Rating: 5
The MCP consumes ~ 3W at idle in Vista.
The MCP consumes ~ 15W when GPU is active.


RE: Power
By MonkeyPaw on 4/23/2008 7:22:47 PM , Rating: 4
A recent comparison of the IGP chipsets (780G, 8200, G35) had nVidia's solution drawing the lowest amount of power. 780G came in as a close second (and it has better overall performance). Long story short, nVidia can make a good IGP chipset. Their performance chipsets seem to throw power conservation to the wind, though.


9800 GT
By bplewis24 on 4/23/08, Rating: 0
RE: 9800 GT
By homerdog on 4/23/2008 6:34:28 PM , Rating: 5
They already have. It's called the 8800GT :)


RE: 9800 GT
By TMV192 on 4/23/2008 7:03:15 PM , Rating: 5
true, and technically, the 9800GTX is an 8800GTS 512MB with faster memory clock


Intel wins either way...
By therealnickdanger on 4/23/2008 3:52:39 PM , Rating: 1
At least until NVIDIA offers its own CPUs.

Intel offers amazing chipsets - just horrible graphics. I don't see why they don't try to work WITH NVIDIA to integrate their GPUs into the Centrino platform. I guess I KNOW why, but I would just love it if they would collaborate.




RE: Intel wins either way...
By herrdoktor330 on 4/23/2008 10:25:02 PM , Rating: 2
You know, that's what I was thinking. I mean, the chipsets sound wonderful. But what kind of CPU is going to go on them? Unless they plan on putting the new VIA Isaiah in them, which may or may not work out well.

I mean, the whole arguement seems kind of daft at this point: "Yea... we're going to open a can on you, son! Right after we make this baller chipset for your product to run on..."

I dunno... maybe I didn't read the article right?


RE: Intel wins either way...
By omnicronx on 4/23/2008 11:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
AMD and Nvidia once made a good team, nforce2 boards were solid.


RE: Intel wins either way...
By herrdoktor330 on 4/24/2008 7:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, I know. My girl's computer is my old nforce2/AthlonXP combo. It's not the roster of the walk, like it used to be. But by goodness, it runs WoW with a GF6200 and 512 of RAM.

It's a shame that it's never really going to be that way again. Unless nVidia buys AMD...


RE: Intel wins either way...
By psychobriggsy on 4/24/2008 9:50:32 AM , Rating: 2
VIA and nVidia were going to team up for CPU + Chipset needs for mobile devices if I recall correctly, recently.

This chipset may turn up being coupled to VIA's Isiiiiiaaahaahiiaiah CPUs once they're both available. A two chip "subnotebook performance" solution will be better in many ways that Intel's three chip offerings (no, Atom + Paulsbo is not a performance solution, even in the subnotebook category). Also 3W idle to 15" load is a better match for Isiahahaha's power consumption.


More sound details please?
By InternetGeek on 4/23/2008 7:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
MCP79 features a single-channel TMDS interface for HDMI 1.2, support for a 1066 MHz FSB, 800 MHz DDR2, 1333 MHz DDR3 memory support, 3 Gbps SATA/eSATA, NVIDIA DriveCache (similar to Intel Turbo Memory), an NVIDIA GbE controller, High Definition Audio , TPM 1.2, and up to 20 PCIe 2.0 lanes.


Any details on who's providing the DSP and overall HD solution? Is SoundStorm coming back? One thing that has always kept me from buying a full nVidia platform is the lack of nVidia sound. When SoundStorm was coming around I was actually going to ditch my mobo for one of those suckers... but I could never find a mobo that had, apart of the other nVidia stuff, a full SoundStorm implementation. Most mobo makers were using SoundStorm just as DSP even though they were getting the full deal with it. That's depressing.

Intel's chipsets are great and they provide support fot at least 2-3 years. I have nothing against Realtek, they provide continued updates but never add anything (better Eq, etc). If you have a laptop you will know what I meant next: I hate Conexant, you get a laptop, you use the maker's drivers but for all you know Conexant is just a website. I think nVidia provides better functionality and their continued support provides a lot better visibility on what's running under the hood.

BTW, If you have a laptop (Core/Core2, etc) and you performed a clean install have you ever found out what's the unknown device about?. You will know what I mean: Texas Instruments PCIXX12, but no way of finding what's the unknown device about under the others tab.




RE: More sound details please?
By Ajax9000 on 4/23/2008 7:52:33 PM , Rating: 2
99% certain that what is meant is Intel HDA architecture .
http://www.intel.com/design/chipsets/hdaudio.htm


RE: More sound details please?
By elpresidente2075 on 4/23/2008 11:08:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
BTW, If you have a laptop (Core/Core2, etc) and you performed a clean install have you ever found out what's the unknown device about?. You will know what I mean: Texas Instruments PCIXX12, but no way of finding what's the unknown device about under the others tab.


If I had to guess, I'd say it was either a firewire chipset or an SD/MMC/whatever controller. My bet would be on the firewire controller though.


RE: More sound details please?
By InternetGeek on 4/23/2008 11:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
It's good guess but it's not correct. It's the most baffling issue I've ever found. Firewire is installed and shows up normally. PCMCIA as well. SD reader as well.

Tonight I'm checking whether it is the infrared adapter. I know my laptop does no have built-in bluetooth but I will check whether the stack is on.


Where the hell...
By BansheeX on 4/23/2008 11:10:40 PM , Rating: 2
is the nForce 730i with the integrated geforce 8? Was supposed to come out this month...




RE: Where the hell...
By mcnabney on 4/25/2008 10:26:30 AM , Rating: 2
July


By winterspan on 4/24/2008 1:54:24 AM , Rating: 2
Thank god.. it's really about time. I myself have been buying Centrinos with discrete graphics, but for everyone else, especially the average consumer who doesn't know any better, this will be a great option.

It's really amazing how terrible Intel's integrated chipset offerings have been. grade school kids get a brand new Macbook or Dell Inspiron for christmas/birthday/highschool graduation and the POS Intel integrated graphics can't even play half of the games they want.

On another note, This Nvidia platform is also great for gaming and professional content creation. They can use the "HybridPower" technology which allows a laptop to have BOTH an integrated chipset and a discrete graphics card. The machine will then be able to save power and turn off the battery-draining discrete graphics card when not in use and rely on the integrated chip. It's really the best of both worlds...




Title Image
By lightfoot on 4/24/2008 4:18:36 PM , Rating: 2
The image for this article should be the Master Control Processor from Tron.

Tron 2: MCP '79




Pretty please with quadro on top
By phaxmohdem on 4/25/2008 1:27:03 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they will release a Lenovo T62p notebook based on the new Quadro platform... <3 Oh and Blu-Ray would be a sweet option too Lenovo ;)

If that happens I may be sending my government tax rebate check to China :D




"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer














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