X800 – Gaming Enthusiast Notebook Option

For the gaming enthusiasts that want to take their games on the road, whether that road is traveled by a business man hiding in disguise or a LAN addict that wants to minimize his hassle, these users are after one thing — a desktop experience on their notebooks. 

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This equates to having several things in place for the enthusiast to be satisfied.  First, the mobile GPUs must be basically equivalent to the current graphics available on the desktop GPUs.  Having a Radeon 9700 mobility GPU isn’t as awe-inspiring when you have the X800XT Platinum on your desktop machine, right?  ATI plans on addressing this issue by both keeping mobility performance high and moving the time-to-market for their new parts lower. 

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Feature list from ATI

Of course, it goes without saying that these same customers want the other features that desktop graphics have as well like perfect image quality.  AA and AF should be the same on the mobile parts as on the desktop parts.  And users want to be able to easily upgrade from one GPU generation to the next.  While the former is easily accomplished and decreasing the time to market is easily attainable with diligence from the manufacturers, keeping upgradeability an option is somewhat more difficult.  The problem of course is that no standard exists in the industry that allows mobile GPUs to be moved from one laptop to the next or from one GPU vendor to the next.  Unlike AGP and now PCI Express on the desktop, there isn’t a board that creates the specifications for notebook design — if there were, increases in battery life and decreases in size and weight would be stalled dramatically.  So, we are left with ATI with one ‘standard’ and NVIDIA with another ‘standard’ and no one on either side particularly ready to give in to the others ideas.  So, if you get a new notebook with Radeon X800 graphics, don’t expect to be moving to the NV50 core later next year.

The Mobility Radeon X800 GPU being introduced today is based around the X800 Pro core technology, meaning it has 12 pixel pipes, support for DX9.0b and the ATI 3Dc image quality technologies.  Just like with the X300, the X800 core is using PowerPlay 5.0 with the new PCI Express power management.  Unlike its baby brother, the X800 uses GDDR3 memory and supports a 256-bit memory interface with support for up to 256MB of on-board memory!

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Benchmarks between ATI X800 and GeForce Go 6800 from ATI

The Mobility X800 GPU runs at slightly lower clock speeds than the desktop X800 Pro, but at writing this ATI didn’t have the exact specs on that yet.  In their presentation, ATI of course had some performance numbers for us to look at (shown above) comparing their Mobility X800 to the NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800, but we’ll wait to judge the products once we have retail products side by side.

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