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
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
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.