More New Chips!

The parts we’ve discussed so far are all clearly superior to the outgoing 400M models, but as we’ve already shown with the GTX 485M, there are new chips that aren’t part of the 500M family. Rounding out the mobile GPUs launching today, we have three more options—none of them particularly desirable as far as we’re concerned.

NVIDIA’s New Entry-Level 300M/400M/500M Parts
  GeForce GT 520M GeForce 410M GeForce 315M
Codename GF119 GF119 GT218
CUDA Cores 48 48 16
Graphics Clock 740MHz 575MHz 606MHz
Processor Clock 1480MHz 1150MHz 1212MHz
RAM Clock 800MHz 800MHz 790MHz
Bus Width 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit
Bandwidth (GB/sec) 12.8 12.8 12.6
SLI Ready No No No

I’m not sure what purpose these new parts serve, other than giving notebook OEMs some “new” discrete GPUs that they can foist off on unsuspecting customers. Sure, the 520M ought to beat Intel’s HD Graphics 3000, but if you’re running where it makes sense (i.e. low detail) the 520M is going to offer less than the GT 420M, thanks to the reduced shader counts and half the memory bandwidth. Given the 420M and 425M already turned in similar performance results—an indication that most games are memory bandwidth limited—that could prove disastrous at anything more than low detail, and if you’re only gunning for low quality in the first place you can probably survive on the IGP.

Anyway, the 520M replaces the GT 415M, a product which we haven’t yet been able to test. The 410M appears to be the same basic idea, only without support for GDDR5. Both chips have the same pinout, but in looking at the chip shots from NVIDIA, and the chip appears a lot smaller, so it may me that GF119 is a native 48 cores rather than half being disabled.

Finally, we also have a GeForce 315M part, which keeps the flame alive for the old G 310M by changing the clock speeds to 606/1212/790. Ugh. Notice how we say “changed” rather than “improved”: those clocks compare to 625/1530/790 on the G 310M in the ASUS U30Jc, or 608/1468/620 on the ASUS UL80Jt. I’m sure you’ll get 1GB of slow memory standard, though, which doesn’t really do much for you. Given what we’ve shown with Sandy Bridge’s IGP, you’d really have to be desperate to want the 315M.

But let’s make it clear: NVIDIA isn’t creating these low-end parts without reason; there are OEMs out there who actually intend to use these GPUs. It’s almost like a throwback to the old S3 Virge days, where we all joked about them being “3D Decelerators”. If the G 310M performance is anything to go by, Sandy Bridge will typically offer better performance than the 315M. NVIDIA still has better driver support for games, so you can make a case for the 520M/410M. Those should at least match SNB graphics performance, and probably surpass it—especially the lower clocked HD 3000 offerings found in LV/ULV chips—but the old GT218 core really needs to be put out to pasture.

The other argument in favor of the 315M and 410M is that they’re extremely cheap to produce, which lets NVIDIA get hardware into just about any level of laptop hardware. I suppose that if you’re not doing Sandy Bridge, the 315M might still hold some merit. It does after all provide hardware accelerated H.264 decoding and better-than-Arrandale graphics. It might also end up in some netbooks, although NG-ION is basically the same chip and already covers that market. We never did get the GT 415M for testing, and it’s not in any US-bound laptops to our knowledge, but some of the other world markets have different tastes and it probably showed up in Asia or Europe. Hopefully that’s the case for the 410M and 315M as well, but I’m still skeptical that there’s much point in keeping something like the 315M around in the current laptop marketplace.

Introducing the GeForce 500M Family (and the 485M) It’s Not Just About Games
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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    It looks like the 520M has four fewer pins, but the top of the chips is quite different. NVIDIA didn't disclose any chip names to me when I asked, unfortunately, I have intermittent Internet access, so I can't really do much other than respond to posts right now, but I'll try to look into it later.
  • rjc - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    Thanks Jarred for updating the article.

    One small thing though - the pin outs on the GF108 and GF119 i think are identical. The website for some reason though shows the GF119 pads rotated by 90degrees, notice the triangle is in a different position to the equivalent shot for the GF108. The pin outs are very similar and same size to the older GF215 and GF216 chips, with 4 additional pins for the 2 new parts.

    With regard to the GF119 performance, be a bit careful estimating it. As the codename indicates, it is rumored to have quite some advances over the other Fermi chips. For instance the increase from 420m to 520m performance level apparently only consumes 2W more according to the nvidia figures.
  • Dug - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    Thanks for taking the time to go through the new chips and explain the differences. Even then nVidia has made it confusing again. I really wish they would just stick with increasing the model number with increased performance.
  • bennyg - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    At this rate Fermi will be in the 600s, maybe the 700Ms; and their next chip design will take them well beyond the 900s.

    G80 and derivatives were the 8000s, 9000s, 100Ms, 200Ms, 300Ms.

    Nvidia's whole point of new model numbers is to HIDE that there is no/minimal increase in performance.

    I won't even begin to consider shedding a fraction of a tear that all the "1Gb Dedicated Graphics" cards will have no reason for existence. They are only ever targeted and marketed to the uninformed and it's clear a company has reached the pinnacle of un-ethics when it deliberately seeks to confuse the marketplace in order to market its products.
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    I find it really funny how the same chip with lower clocks suddenly gets a higher subnumer once it "improved" one generation :p

  • RyanVM - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    Firefox 4 doesn't support hardware acceleration with Optimus configurations. It was causing lots of instability.

    Can't speak for Chrome or IE9.
  • Ed051042 - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    Amen to the closing statement on laptop LCD quality. 1366x768 is NOT an acceptable resolution on a 14/15/17" notebook. My 10" netbook as that resolution! The currently lack of ability to deliver quality displays is troubling. Dell has "supply issues" with their 1080p panel for the XPS 15, while HP pulled their 1600x panel for the Envy 14. Only the Sony Vaio Z is delivering the goods, with 1080p on a 13" panel.
  • Hrel - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    "Clock speeds are also up, in this case it’s a 14% increase for the 550M vs. 435M, 20% for 540M vs. 425M, and 20% for the 525M over the 520M—not too shabby" I think you meant "525M over the 420M (not 520M).

    The GT425M at 560core/1120processor/800RAM clocks. That's only 7%, 7% and 12.5% increases. I'm glad for the extra memory bandwidth and would love to see if giving this GPU GDDR5 would let it handle 1080p at least on the lowest settings in games like Crysis or Stalker. I just hope the "new" GT525M costs less than the GT425M cause realistically it won't be much faster if at all so the price should drop. I just really want a 15.6" laptop with a decent quality (Compal/Clevo) quality 1080p screen. i5 2520M, GT525M, 4GB DDR3 1333 for a thousand bucks or less. I REALLY don't care if it includes a blue ray drive, or even a dvd drive. And I REALLY REALLY want it to come with Seagate's Momentus XT Hybrid drive 500GB.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    Finally got enough internet speed to be able to update a few bits in the text. The 525M replaces the 420M, which had 500/1000 clocks. The 535M replaces 425M, which is the 560/1120 clocks you mention. But you're right if you compare 525M to 425M. The overlapping names is more than a little confusing!

    I also updated the information in regards to 520M/410M, which use the GF119 core.
  • EliteRetard - Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - link

    If we can currently buy a 1GB GTX460 for 150$ any chance well get the GTX485 at a reasonable price? Sure its fully unlocked (why dont we have an unlocked desktop GTX460?), so make it 200$. I want to see laptops with that chip for under $1,000.

    If Nvidia wants $500 for a card like that, whats stopping companies like Asus from just making their own mobile varients? Couldnt they just take the mobile PCI card blank and drop in an actual GTX460 chip and downclock it? Ive been saying all this time, if they can do GTX480 SLI in a laptop with an i7-980x, why the heck cant they just use a GTX460 and go with a much cheaper and more reasonable mobile CPU to make a low cost but effective gaming laptop?

    Thats what I want, a midrange sandy bridge CPU and a switching GTX460 level GPU. Call it an all in one PC if you have to and stick it to a decent 17" LCD. Keep it at 6lbs or less. Id buy that for around a grand. Oh and let us use those larger mobile HDDs...I do need 1TB storage in a laptop and dont want to use 2 drive bays to do it. Keep the second for SSD.

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