Nvidia's DirectX 10 chip goes mobile

Nvidia is looking to build its strength in the mobile graphics market

Laptop owners can finally take advantage of Windows Vista's DirectX 10 graphics engine - thanks to a new range of mobile graphics chips from Nvidia .

The new Nvidia GeForce 8 chips comes in two different guises: The first is the performance-orientated 8600M, which comes in GT and GS versions. The second is the mainstream 8400M which is offered in GT, GS and G trim. The most powerful chip in the line-up is the Nvidia GeForce 8600GT which has 32 stream processors along with 512MB of memory.

Avid Nvidia watchers will also notice that the company has dropped the GoForce name from its mobile laptop graphics chips. The new GeForce 8 line also promises a new start for Nvidia when it comes to laptop graphics.

Performance per watt

Rene Haas, Nvidia's general manager of notebook graphics called the current growth of notebook sales "the perfect storm" for Nvidia's mobile graphics plans.

Haas told Tech.co.uk that Nvidia traditionally had a "weak position in notebook graphics which is now strong". The GeForce 8 chips offered double the performance of the old GoForce 7 series "for the same power", he said.

Haas also talked up the need for greater graphics processing power. He cited Windows Vista, Blu-ray and HD DVD plus next-gen games that were reliant on DirectX 10.

Silence on SLI

However Rene Haas didn't mention SLI, the scalable link interface that is currently a millstone around the corporation's neck. Nvidia has been dogged by problems related to its latest graphics drivers. Although they now work in DirectX 10, there are still problems with SLI implementations.

Alienware previously told Tech.co.uk that it plans to install both Windows XP and Vista on its latest notebook as a result.

The new GeForce 8 laptop chips use Nvidia's unified shader architecture - something that's also been seen in the company's GeForce 8 series desktop cards.

Haas contrasted the separate shader architecture of the last-gen Ge/GoForce 7 series, when vertex and pixel shaders remained separate "For DX9 graphics this works fine. For DX10, it's going to choke your system," he said.

Haas also mentioned the increased graphical needs of applications such as iTunes , Microsoft Virtual Earth and even Adobe Acrobat Reader .

He said this was a further reason for ever-evolving laptop graphics and talked up Nvidia's PowerMizer - a technology that balances performance against battery life.

PureVideo HD has been enhanced for HD DVD and Blu-ray playback as well. This latest version of PureVideo is designed to minimise impact on the CPU, bringing all video processing needs on to the graphics chip. The first generation of PureVideo still required a reasonable amount of CPU oomph.

Quadro variants of the GeForce mobile chips will cater for the enterprise and workstation markets, Haas added. Toshiba and HP are among the first to announce kit featuring the new chips.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.