LAS VEGAS--Several new laptop graphics cards are joining the Nvidia family today, namely the GeForce GT 555M, GeForce GT 550M, GeForce GT 540M, GeForce GT 525M, and GeForce GT 520M. These new GPUs support all the proprietary technologies that Nvidia uses to set itself apart from the competition, including Optimus, PhysX, and 3D Vision.
Optimus is notable because it allows laptops to include both integrated graphics (typically from Intel) and a discrete Nvidia graphics card, then switch between them automatically as needed. Other graphics-switching technologies typically require users to hit a manual or virtual button, or else have very simple commands, such as switching off the discrete graphics when running on battery power.
All of the new Nvidia 500 Series GPUs support Optimus, while the 550M, 500M, and 540M support 3D Vision, Nvidia's self-contained ecosystem of 3D active-shutter glasses, IR emitters, and compatible monitors and GPUs.
Nvidia is also taking advantage of this launch to lob a few attacks at sometimes partner, sometimes rival Intel. The CPU maker is aiming to reduce the need for discrete graphics cards (Nvidia's main business) with its revamped Sandy Bridge integrated graphics, which aim to be good enough so that most mainstream users (such as World of Warcraft players) won't need a discrete GPU.
According to Nvidia, 87 percent of today's popular PC games "fail" when using Intel integrated graphics (although that claim was referring to the previous generation, from 2009). Failure is defined by Nvidia as falling below 25 frames per second or having obvious visual defects. Nvidia further claims the GeForce 520M shows a more than 3x improvement over the new Sandy Bridge Intel HD graphics in World of Warcraft, and claims about a 2.5x improvement with a GeForce 540M in Modern Warfare 2.
New laptops from Acer, Alienware, Asus, Clevo, Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Medion, MSI, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and others will all offer Nvidia 500 Series GPUs, starting in late January, aimed at performance-level laptops that sit between mainstream models and high-end enthusiast models.