Nvidia Introduces Improved 400M Series Processors

On Friday, the Santa Clara, California-based graphic chipmaker announced seven new GeForce 400M series graphics cards for laptops, six months after launching the GeForce GTX 480, and declaring it the "world's fastest notebook GPU."

The 400M series now runs on Fermi architecture and Optimus graphics-switching technology capable of Web-browsing and 3D image-rendering. The level of performance varies from the mid-range GeForce GT 445M, 435M, 425M, 420M, and 415M to the advanced GeForce GTX 460M, 470M and 480M.

Nvidia is now in a position to expand from the GPU market into parallel processing by placing both capabilities on a single chip, accelerating Web-browsing.

"Applications are becoming more visual, and having HTMLS, hardware-accelerated graphics, and a new JavaScript engine built into Internet Explorer 9 means that the Web applications will follow suit," Mark Relph, senior director for Windows Product Management at Microsoft said in an Nvidia news release. "Nvidia is pushing the visual computing playing field forward and helping Microsoft create a better Web experience for our customers."

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Nvidia suffered a $141 million net loss in the second quarter of this year, partly due to its $193.9 million settlement of a 2008 class action lawsuit over defective, overheating GPUs after reports of faulty dies and weak packaging material, and partly due to declining consumer demand overseas.

However, the company has developed a way to preserve battery life and prevent overheating. With Fermi and Optimus as its foundation, the 400M Series moves between a discrete graphics solution for 3D-intensive tasks and integrated graphics for other operations. Nvidia believes they have transcended the delicate balance of great graphics and reliable power.

"Coupled with Optimus technology, 400M Series notebook GPUs deliver great performance for visual computing applications when you need it, and great battery life when you don't," Rene Haas, Nvidia general manager of notebook GPUs said in a statement.

The new graphics cards will be around 40 percent faster than the earlier 300M series at execution of tasks, according to Ken Brown, an Nvidia spokesman.

Nvidia is not competing with its own previous line of GPUs, so much as Intel's integrated single-chip solution for parallel-processing, which according to Nvidia handles game play and photo retouching five times slower than the new GeForce.

Nvidia took an unconventional approach to competition late last year when it began actively satirizing Intel. Nvidia then launched the mobile Tegra chip to compete with Intel's Atom processors. After issuing several Intel-bashing statements, Nvidia launched a Website lampooning the world's largest microprocessor manufacturer with a series of cartoons

Not all of Nvidia's recent public relations efforts have been in jest, however.

The NVIDIA PartnerForce Program is a sales and marketing effort aimed at attracting value added resellers, system builders, and retailers of its components and systems. The benefits of joining the PartnerForce Program include access to the brands and platforms NVIDIA utilizes, as well as sales and technical support.

With the new GeForce 400M series of graphics processing units (GPUs) inside laptops made by Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, and Toshiba, Nvidia may be in a better position to attract partners in the CPU space than it was a year ago.