Nvidia unwraps range-topping laptop graphics

The 8700M GT supports DirectX 10 and Blu-ray/HD DVD playback with PureVideo HD

Graphics specialist Nvidia is strengthening its hand in mobile computing with the release of a new performance graphics part. The GeForce 8700M GT now heads up the 8 series range for notebooks, which also features the previously launched 8400M and 8600M models.

Nvidia has traditionally trailed behind in notebook graphics, with ATI 's Mobile Radeon series taking top spot for discrete graphics in notebooks. However, Nvidia hopes to steal a march with its latest notebook line. At a briefing with Tech.co.uk last month, 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 offer double the performance of the old GoForce 7 series "for the same power," he said.

The new GeForce 8 laptop chips use Nvidia's unified shader architecture - also 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.

Mobile gaming

Designed for mobile gaming, the 8700M GT supports Windows Vista's graphics engine DirectX 10 and also features Nvidia's PureVideo HD support. This means HD support for Blu-ray and HD DVD playback - something Nvidia was keen to demonstrate to us at the notebook graphics briefing last month. Haas 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.

The 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.

Avid Nvidia watchers will notice that the company has dropped the GoForce name from its mobile laptop graphics chips.

Last month 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. And the only way for GeForce 8 series SLI implementations to work with DirectX 10 is to use the v158.43 Beta drivers instead of the latest final ForceWare driver release .


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.