GeForce 400M launches at IFA

Seven new mobile GPUs from Nvidia, plus a desktop card

THE MOBILE GEFORCE 400M series was introduced at the IFA show in Berlin and it seems like Nvidia has ousted most, if not all of its GeForce 400M GPU’s, at least for the time being. So what are we looking at? Well, two high-end models, namely the GTX 470M and 460M, then we have something of a fence sitter with the GTS 445M that seems to end up between the high-end and mid-range models, which is followed by the GTS 435M, 425M and 420M and then there’s the lonely entry level GT 415M.

We’re going to be cheeky and let you wait for the high-end models to the end – not that they’re all that interesting, but hey. The GT 415 is at least for the time being the most basic model in the new family of mobile GPUs from Nvidia, but it will potentially to get some even more basic models below it without the GT prefix unless Nvidia has decided to call it quits at the very basic level and let Intel take over this space with its IGPs.

For the time being Nvidia is keeping the GeForce 310M and 305M at the very entry level. The GT 415 has 48 shaders clocked at 1GHz – that’s as many as the GT 325 – and it comes with a core clock speed of 500MHz. It will be paired up with up to 512MB DDR3 memory via a 128-bit interface and Nvidia’s reference memory clock speed is 800MHz for a memory bandwidth of 25.6GB/s.

The GT 420M, 425M and 435M appears to be identical bar two things, core and shader clock. All three parts have 96 shaders, the same 128-bit memory interface and support for up to 512MB of 800MHz DDR3 as the GT 415. The GT 420M is clocked at 500MHz for the core and 1GHz for the shaders while the GT 425M ups this to 560MHz for the core and 1120MHz for the shaders and finally the GT 435M gets to 650MHz for the core and 1300MHz for the shaders. The GT 420M is “limited” to 512MB of memory while the other two models can be fitted with up to 1GB.

The GT 445M is an interesting part, as it will be available in two SKUs. The GT 445M has 144 shaders clocked at 1180MHz with the core at 590MHz, but the thing that sets this GPU apart is that it supports up to 1GB of either DDR3 or GDDR5 memory. With DDR3 it’s still stuck with a 128-bit bus and 800MHz memory with 25.6GB/s memory bandwidth, but the GDDR5 SKU has a 192-bit memory interface with a 1250MHz memory clock and 60GB/s memory bandwidth. This could be a very decent mobile gaming solution that shouldn’t cost a fortune, at least as long as you’re looking at the GDDR5 SKU.

So what about the high-end models? Well the GTX 460M and 470M share some features, as both have a 192-bit memory interface, support for up to 1GB of GDDR5 memory, a default memory clock of 1250MHz and a memory bandwidth of 60GB/s. The GTX 460M is clocked faster with a core speed of 675MHz and a shader clock of 1350MHz, but it has fewer shaders with a total of 192 compared to 288 for the GTX 470M. The core clock of the 470M is 535MHz and the shaders are clocked at 1100MHz. For comparison, the already launched GTX 480M has 352 shaders, a core clock of 425MHz, a shader clock of 850MHz and support for up to 1GB of 1200MHz GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus with a memory bandwidth of 76.8GB/s.

All of the new mobile GPUs have support for DX11, OpenGL 4.0, PhysX, Optimus, CUDA, DirectCompute, OpenCL, HD and Blu-ray video decoding and HDMI 1.4a support. Only the GTX models support SLI. The one thing that is missing from Nvidia’s details of the new GPUs is the TDP and considering that the GTX 480M is a mobile bacon grill, we’re hoping that the new parts won’t run nearly as hot.

Oh yes, we almost forgot, there’s a new desktop card as well, the GeForce GT420 which will only be available for OEM’s. Nvidia isn’t making any noise about it in its press release, but it appeared along with the new GPUs on Nvidia’s site. This should be one of the most basic desktop cards in the 400-series, but again Nvidia might potentially launch something even more basic if there’s a demand for it. The GT 420 has 48 shaders clocked at 1.4GHz with the core at 700MHz. The card supports up to 2GB of 128-bit DDR3 memory clocked at up to 900MHz for a memory bandwidth of 28.8GB/s. Not exactly an impressive card, but it should at least be cheap.

So there you have it, Nvidia’s new line-up of mobile GPUs. However, most people are probably waiting for Nvidia’s mainstream desktop parts, but it seems like we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that announcement. The only really interesting part of the ones announced today is the GT 445M with GDDR5 memory as this should offer decent performance, yet fit in standard footprint notebooks, unlike its faster siblings which will require a lot thicker notebook chassis for the extra cooling which will be required.S|A

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