updated 10:50 am EDT, Thu March 22, 2012
NVIDIA fills out GeForce 600M line
NVIDIA has paired up the GeForce GTX 680 launched Thursday with its first notebook graphics sharing the same Kepler architecture. The GeForce GT 640M LE, GT 640M, GT 650M, and GTX 660M all use the new 28-nanometer building process both to be smaller and cooler than their ancestors as well as up the core count and clock speeds. They peak at 384 cores on the 640M, 650M and 660M and up to either 735MHz or 850MHz on the 660M, depending on whether or not it's using GDDR5 or DDR3 memory.
The 640M LE has "up to" 384 cores, while it and the regular 640M peak at clock speeds of 500MHz and 625MHz each. Every Kepler-based design uses a 128-bit memory bus. Using Kepler and its new SMX multi-processing blocks gives them all the same feature set, such as faster FXAA and TXAA antialiasing and more advanced PhysX math.
Other new additions aren't based on Kepler but still use the 28nm process: the GeForce GT 620M and GT 630M potentially cut the power use in half over 500M equivalents. NVIDIA is pitching the lower-end parts as efficient enough to go into ultrabooks and other systems where battery life, heat, and space are at a premium. They edge closer to a prediction by CEO Jen-Hsun Huang that all future notebooks would be "like the MacBook Air -- but without compromises," the company claimed.
The two keep the 128-bit bus and scale back to 96 cores, but with 625MHz and 800MHz core clocks on the 620M and 630M, respectively.
Some 40-nanometer holdovers will continue to exist in the line for at least the near future, including the GT 635M, a variant on the GT 640M LE, and the current high-end GTX 670M and GTX 675M.
Several companies are officially slated to use the newer 600M line, some of which leaked prematurely. Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba have either already announced or will be unveiling notebooks soon, many of them using Intel's Ivy Bridge-era Core processors. Apple isn't known to be immediately participating, although its preferences for mid-range graphics and its role as the ultrabook category's creator leave the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro as candidates.