Mobile Gaming At Desktop Speeds

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Mobile Gaming At Desktop Speeds
Tests & Benchmarks With The Pentium 4M & NVIDIA's GeForce4 440 Go

By Dave Altavilla
6/3/02

 
There was once a time when the average Laptop Computer, even the top of the line models, were designed and built strictly for business.  There were little if any true multimedia capabilities, without the need for DVD Drives, elaborate sound systems, CD-RW drives or 3D Graphics.  You got your basic CPU, Drive, RAM and LCD screen with floppy, keyboard and mouse.  The bells and whistles just weren't available and gaming on these machines was not even considered.  However, as the average end user became more PC savvy and technology made it possible to bring the power of desktop systems into the laptop's tiny flat footprint, a whole new market segment began to develop.  The "Desktop Replacement" Laptop was born.

The Desktop Replacement Laptop is a hybrid of sorts.  These machines combine features and performance on par with full systems, however with a slightly bulkier form factor than the average Laptop system.  The type of user that has been targeted for this product, is a performance hungry individual with the need for all of the creature comforts of today's modern PC, as well as the ability to pack it up and hit the road.  Your basic "have your cake and eat too" type of individuals are the target market for the Desktop Replacement Laptop. 

Recently, we had the need to purchase a couple of portable machines here at the HH Lab and set out to determine just what kind of horsepower money could buy, in a laptop machine built on leading edge technology.  We chose Compaq and Dell units but decided to give you a quick take on the Dell, since it came equipped with the kind of setup that even the HotHardware.com Elite folks like you, could appreciate.  Under the hood of our Dell Inspiron 8200, were the all new Pentium 4M Mobile CPU, as well as the latest in NVIDIA Mobile Graphics, the GeForce4 440 Go with 64MB of memory.

Specifications and Features of the GeForce4 440 Go and the Pentium 4M
The Dynamic Duo
 



Fully compatible with Intel® SpeedStep?
and AGP_STOP_ /AGP_BUSY_ protocol,
including all Pentium® III and Pentium 4
 
Integrated transform and lighting (T&L)

256-bit graphics engine

32-bit color
32-bit Z/stencil buffer

High performance 256-bit 2D engine
Optimized for multiple color depths
including 32-, 24-, 16-, 15-, and
8-bits per pixel

Multibuffering (double, triple, quad)
for smooth animation and video playback

Lightspeed Memory Architecture (LMA) II
Supports 128-bit DDR, 64-bit DDR, and
32-bit DDR SDRAM up to 250MHz

Up to 8GB/sec. memory bandwidth

Z-cull support for hidden surface removal

AGP 4X with Fast Writes

AccuView high-resolution AA engine

nView display technology
Dual independent display controllers

PowerMizer hardware and software technology
Extensive clock gating
Dynamic clock control
Dynamic voltage adjustment
 

Available Speeds:
1.80GHz, 1.70GHz, 1.60GHz, 1.50GHz, 1.40GHz


Chipset Mobile Intel® 845 Chipset


Up to 1GB DDR SDRAM


Intel® NetBurst? Microarchitecture

400MHz system bus

Hyper-pipelined technology

Rapid execution engine

Execution trace cache

Advanced transfer cache

Advanced dynamic execution

Enhanced floating point/multimedia

.13 micron Die Geometry

512K On Chip Cache

400MHz System Bus

Enhanced SpeedStep Power Savings Technology
 


 

 
 


 

The Pentium 4M is pretty straightforward, in terms of the actual technology that is driving the chip.  The Pentium 4M is a socket 478 CPU that has Intel's "SpeedStep" power savings technology built in.  Speedstep, in short, is a level of circuitry and software that Intel built for the P4 (as well as historically, the Pentium III) that allows the processor to turn its clock speed down, when demand on the CPU is relatively low.  If an application or multiple applications require more horse power, the system automatically turns up clock speed on the CPU to handle the task.  Essentially, it is a dynamic power saving system that senses system demand and adjusts accordingly.

NVIDIA's GeForce4 440 Go is derived from the GeForce4 MX core.  That is to say it is a Direct X 7 GPU without pixel or vertex shaders.  It does however, have a couple of additional features over the GeForce4 Ti desktop product.  Firstly, the GF4 440 Go also has NVIDIA's new "VPE" (Video Processing Engine).  This is essentially an enhancement to the digital video subsystem currently found on the GeForce4 Ti products. It supports in hardware and accelerates the complete MPEG-2 stack, including IDCT (inverse discrete cosine transform) and motion compensation.  This technology is also currently available on the GeForce4 MX but it is a natural for the laptop space, where watching DVDs is pure decadence on those long flights back home.  Incidentally, yes we did actually disassemble our new $3000 laptop, so that we could show you the hardware in action.  The things we do for you folks!  Now that's dedication.

As with the GeForce4 desktop product line, there are various flavors of GeForce4 440 Go systems for the Laptop OEMs to choose from for different end user configurations.

GeForce4 440 Go Configurations - Click for full view

 

Finally, NVIDIA has incorporated their new PowerMizer technology into the GeForce4 440 Go.  This technology, much like Intel's "SpeedStep", clocks down the GPU at various end user settings in the control panel.  This technology is not just software however.  PowerMizer technology is actually internal circuitry within the GPU, that allows that core to shut down all logic gates that are not in use.  For example, let's say you are digging into a few rounds of Jedi Knight II.  During this full screen 3D only session, there is no need for your digital video engine to be in full gear, so that section of the chip is shut off, until such time that you call upon it with a DVD ROM. We should underscore the fact that PowerMizer is a 3D Gaming only technology.  It will not save you battery life when watching DVDs or running spreadsheets on the desktop.

Well then, let's take a quick look at our test system and then show you just what PowerMizer can do.  After all, you are on a laptop and unless there is a wall socket near by, all these toys can eat up power.

 

Dell's Inspiron 8200 and Power Miser Testing

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