Review Index:

NVIDIA NV17M Mobile Chipset Preview

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Chipsets
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

Introducing NV17M and the PowerMizer

This content was originally featured on and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

So, to further push the speed and performance levels on the mobile graphics market, NVIDIA has developed and launched the NV17M chipset. There are four main functions of the new chipset that will help it stand out from the rest of the crowd on the mobile market. This includes blowing away the ATI options as well as their own GeForce2Go.

NVIDIA wanted to push the fact that the NV17M chipset was developed from the ground up – this not merely an upgraded version or overclocked version of the GeForce2Go chipset. That means that the extra year of experience NVIDIA has worked for, by pushing into both the mobile and video game console markets, can shine through with a far better product.

The PowerMizer

The PowerMizer is what NVIDIA has named their complex and effective power management system. It combines software, hardware, drivers and a user interface to manage and dynamically change many aspects of the graphics and video system while powered up to give the user the longest batter life possible. It has the ability to turn of idle blocks of its GPU as well as offloading the power-guzzling system processors to its own GPU to take care of items such as Transform and Lighting (T&L) as well as DVD playback.

Using a technology similar to Intel’s SpeedStep and AMD’s PowerNow! technology, the NV17M is able to dynamically change both the clock speed of the GPU as well as the speed of the memory. Lowering the clock speed or memory speed is useful for lowering the amount of power that the GPU uses during its operation. What makes the PowerMizer version of this technology so much better, is the improved granularity. Where as Intel’s and AMD’s technologies have a limited number of “"steps", where there are presets levels of power and speed that the laptops determine on the fly, NVIDIA’s PowerMizer is able to change the clock speed and/or memory to speed to nearly an infinite number of "steps." This allows the notebook PCs to choose the best possible solution for the user’s computing needs.

As you can see from the images above, the NV17M chipset both outperforms and outlasts its competition in the mobile market. The three modes that you see in green are some defaults that can be loaded via the user interface. The "Maximum Performance" mode offers the best 3D performance and 2D performance for Windows GUI or DVD playback. However, it also uses the most power, about watts. Notice, though, that even in the full power mode, the NV17M is still significantly less power-hungry than the competition in a much less dramatic "performance" mode.

In the "Maximum Battery" mode that NVIDIA has shown here, it is quite interesting to see that the performance is still greater than the other graphics chipsets that use nearly 60% more power. NVIDIA has well demonstrated their ability to output the most powerful graphics chips in the home market, and now they are showing their talents at creating the most balanced chipsets in the mobile market.

Unlike all other mobile graphics chipsets, the NV17M also is going to offer a form of DVD hardware playback. While it is not the usual form of hardware playback that we are used to hearing about in MPEG cards, it does take on most of the work. And, because the NV17M GPU uses much less power than the system CPU, this translates into extended DVD playback, perhaps an extra hour of video on a long flight home.