Fermi goes mobile

The GeForce GTX 480M makes its first public appearance

NVIDIA HAS ANNOUNCED what it calls the world’s fastest notebook GPU and it might very possibly be the world’s fastest notebook GPU, but we also have a feeling that it’s the world’s hottest notebook GPU. It’s Nvidia’s first 400-series mobile part and dare we say, its largest mobile GPU to date.

Nvidia’s reference spec of the GTX 480M makes us scratch our heads, as this is a rather unusual GPU. For starters it has 352 shaders, sorry, CUDA cores, which is a very odd number suggesting 11 clusters of 32 shaders. This makes for a nice granularity if you want to save power, but it’s a very fine granularity compared to what we’ve seen in the past. This suggests that the GTX 480M should be able to run in an acceptable power mode during mobile usage, although time will tell if this is really the case or not.

The GPU is clocked at 850MHz which is close to half the speed of the older GTX 285M, although the GTX 480M has 2.75 times as many shaders, so it’s no surprise that the GTX 480M manages 897 Gigaflops compared to 576 Gigaflops for the GTX 285M. However, the GTX 285M appears to have a higher texture fill rate at 38 billion/sec compared to a mere 18.7 billion/sec according to Nvidia’s spec sheet.

The GTX 480M only supports GDDR5 memory and it has a 256-bit memory interface. The latter suggests that we’ll see notebooks sporting either 512MB or 1GB of graphics memory. The memory clock speed is rated at 1200MHz and the memory bandwidth is rated at 76.8GB/sec.

The GTX 480M is also SLI ready, although with a metal heat spreader covering the top of the GPU, we have to wonder if it’s a good idea to put a pair of these GPUs in a notebook. Nvidia has of course not made any kind of mention of the TDP of the GTX 480M, but we’d imagine that this is one very hot mobile GPU.

Nvidia’s first and only partner, so far, is Clevo according to Nvidia’s blog and knowing Clevo notebooks, this will be a huge chubby thing that weighs more than anyone would want to carry around with them for any longer period of time. The power brick is likely to add even more to the overall weight and you’ll need a small fission power plant in your back yard to power it all.

We’re not sure you can call this progress despite the GTX 480M possibly being the fastest mobile GPU on the market, we can’t see a huge number of people investing in the kind of notebook that can handle one of these GPUs. Then again, if you’re a hard core gamer, or someone that really needs a high-end GPU for computational tasks in a mobile workstation, this might just be what you’ve been waiting for. We’d expect Nvidia to show off the GTX 480M at Computex and we’ll be attending Nvidia’s press conference on Monday.S|A

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