Nvidia has developed a specification for a standard graphics module based
on PCI Express. The chip maker is delivering board schematics free to
Taiwan's notebook PC makers, hoping they will ease the transition to the
new, fast serial bus and open up design wins in a market dominated by
rival ATI Technologies.
The so-called MXM modules can include any graphics processor riding a x16
PCI Express interface over a 230-pin connector defined by Nvidia. The
modules aim to replace a host of proprietary add-on cards that notebook
designers have developed around the current Accelerated Graphics Port
(AGP) parallel interconnect.
MXM actually involves three sizes of modules: a 70 x 66-mm module for thin
and light notebooks; a 73 x 78-mm module for mainstream notebooks; and an
80 x 100-mm module for desktop replacement systems.
The modules will vary in height, depending on whether they use a fan, heat
pipe or other cooling unit. None is expected to exceed 10 mm in height.
The modules support dual 24-bit low-voltage differential-signaling links,
VGA, TV out and S-Video out, and two Digital Video Interface
interconnects. The MXM cards are designed for a maximum 35-watt power
As many as nine mainly Taiwan-based notebook makers-including AOpen,
Alienware, Arima, First International Computer, Tatung and Wistron-are
scheduled to show their support for MXM at a press event in Taipei today.
The first PCI Express notebooks are expected to ship later this year,
depending on when Intel Corp. rolls out its first chip sets for Express.
Nvidia provides full Gerber files and design guides for MXM modules based
on its GeForce Go 6 series. The soon-to-be-announced family of notebook
processors uses Nvidia's latest graphics core and the PCI Express
Nvidia's Chen said that most notebook computer makers have at least one or
two designs with MXM cards, some using Nvidia and others using ATI parts.
ATI, which supplies the majority of notebook graphics chips, did not make
a spokesman available for comment by press time.