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Nvidia unveils its graphics chip for laptops

As expected, the graphics chipmaker at Comdex offers details about its Geforce2go, which will begin showing up in Toshiba laptops next spring.

LAS VEGAS--As expected, graphics chipmaker Nvidia late Sunday offered details about its first laptop chip, the Geforce2go, which will begin showing up in Toshiba laptops next spring.

The Geforce2go offers much of the performance of Nvidia's desktop PC chips while consuming a fraction of the power, Nvidia chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang told CNET Some of the gains in power usage come from production of the chip using thinner, 0.18-micron wiring, but Nvidia got additional gains by allowing parts of the chip to power down when a particular function, such as video playback, is not being used.

As previously reported, Santa Clara, Comdex 2000:
Back to the future Calif.-based Nvidia is attacking the laptop market following a successful conquest of the desktop market once dominated by Canadian rival ATI Technologies. Although the laptop market is about one-quarter of the overall PC market, it is growing far faster, Huang noted.

ATI has said that it will defend the notebook market, of which it claims a greater than 50 percent share. ATI representatives said earlier this month that although they are seeing competition from Nvidia in some segments, they still believe that ATI is the only company serving the whole mobile graphics market.

Nvidia said Sunday that the Geforce2go is already in volume production and that more customer announcements will be forthcoming.

Like the Geforce2 MX from which it is derived, the Geforce2go is Macintosh-compatible. Nvidia has said that it plans to enter the Mac market--another ATI stronghold--but has offered few details.

Huang said the next news that people hear about Nvidia in the Mac market will likely come from Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. Rival ATI raised Jobs' rancor earlier this year when it prematurely said that its chips would be part of iMacs and PowerMacs that had not yet been introduced.

The graphics chip industry has been consolidating rapidly, with five companies selling their graphics chip units or exiting the business this year, including S3 (now Sonicblue), NeoMagic, Intergraph, ArtX and Gigapixel.