NVIDIA's GeForce 400M Mobile GPUs: 7 New Fermis Introduced

Author: Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig
Date: September 2, 2010
Product Name: NVIDIA GeForce 400M
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A New Lineup, Top to Bottom

The GPU industry is nothing if not extremely cautious when it comes to releasing new products so it is quite rare to see an entire lineup of graphics cards being refreshed at the same time. NVIDIA has bucked this trend by shedding much of their 300-series and 200-series in one fell swoop. One of the more interesting aspects of this is the fact that some of these GPU cores have yet to make their way into the desktop space. We have seen GF100, GF104 and the soon-to-launch GF106 architectures but could we be seeing the first glimpse of the rumored GF108 as well?

The Enthusiast Lineup

In the high end we have some interesting things going on regarding the overall cost and performance comparisons against ATI’s HD 5000-series. According to our contacts at several system integrators, NVIDIA is targeting the performance and the price of the GTX 460 towards ATI’s current single mobile GPU champ: the HD 5870M. Meanwhile, the GTX 480M competes price-wise against ATI’s high end Crossfire solutions and the GTX 470M offers performance values that should eclipse the GTX 460M by about 10%. The NVIDIA GPUs have this ability to destroy ATI’s high end mobile offerings from a performance standpoint simply because many of the HD 5000M-series’ cores were seriously cut down when compared to their desktop brethren. For example, the HD 5870M sports only one half the number of Stream Processors that a standard HD 5870 does.

When compared against parts from the previous generation, there is no denying the fact that NVIDIA’s high end mobile GPUs were due for a change. The GTX 285M and GTX 260M went the way of the Dodo long ago which left the enthusiast end of the spectrum high and dry while the GTS 360 never really saw widespread adoption.

Mainstream Parts Aplenty

Launching a whole five cards into the mid range and mainstream brackets is no easy feat but once again NVIDIA is looking to make up for lost time in a big way. Starting at the “top” we have the GT 445M which is supposed to be the price / performance leader among these new mobile parts. With 144 cores and the possibility of higher-bandwidth GDDR5, it should be able to compete with the HD 5850M and HD 5770M depending on the configuration chosen.

The GT 435M, GT 425M and GT 420M are all basically the same card but with varying clock speeds and memory allotments which in effect allows for a wider range of TDP ratings. We are guessing this was done in order to offer the widest range of solutions in a price bracket large OEMs like Dell, HP and Lenovo will likely buy into.

Finally, the new GPU lineup is rounded out by the diminutive GT 415M. This is still considered a “performance-oriented” part due to its respectable 48 CUDA cores but it is still one of the lowest rungs of the mobile GeForce ladder. The only two cards which are lower than it are the 310M and the 305M.

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