Upcoming Acer Ultrabook To Feature GeForce 640M GPU

Acer products were much in evidence at Germany's CeBIT conference last week, with the deep breath Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3-581TG awarded a particular place of honor. We've already got one of the new notebooks in-house and will have a review up in the not-too-distant future, but there are a few tidbits we can share early. The M3 is an Ultrabook that includes both a discrete GPU and an optical drive, both features set it apart from most of the ultrabooks we've seen to date.

It's been nearly a year since Acer fired its old CEO vowed to break free from its budget past and reinvent itself as a premium brand; the M3 is one of the company's biggest moves in that direction. Acer claims that the upcoming M3 will run up to eight hours on a single charge and can resume operation in two seconds thanks to its Acer Green Instant On. It also offers an unprecedented security feature -- in the user is physically threatened, he or she can simply hide behind the Great Wall of Text that doubles as the notebook's name.

In slightly more serious news, the notebook is fairly sexy looking, though the photo below gives the impression that it's thicker than the measured 20mm. The Aspire M3 will also be the first notebook to feature a GPU based on Nvidia's upcoming Kepler -- the GeForce 640M, to be exact. Nvidia is still keeping most of the details concerning Kepler's mobile parts under wraps, but we know its a 28nm chip with up to 384 cores, a maximum clock speed of 625MHz and a 128-bit memory interface. Maximum memory bandwidth is 64GB/s, and the chip supports DX11 (DX11.1 support isn't mentioned). Early performance figures imply that performance should be quite good, particularly given the size and power constraints inherent to the ultrabook form factor.

It looks as though AMD and Nvidia have swapped positions when it comes to rebranding products to keep up with the Jones's. Back in the G92 era, Nvidia took flak for rebranding a significant amount of GeForce 8 solutions as GeForce 9 products when, in reality, they weren't much faster. AMD has done something similar with its mid-range HD 7000M products; the 7600M, 7500M, and 7400M are all 40nm solutions that use the company's older VLIW5 architecture rather than the VLIW4 chips that debuted with Cayman.

At present, none of AMD's mobile chips, including the highest-end 6990M, are VLIW4 designs. That transition will occur later this year, when AMD debuts fresh 28nm mobile chips. This gap opens up a vulnerable point NV will likely try to exploit over the next few months, Team Green can claim advantages to being on 28nm that AMD may find difficult to refute.