ATi Releases Mobility RADEON
The mobile market for notebooks is on the rise. 25% of corporate computers are notebooks and the numbers continue to rise. While NVIDIA gained a giant market share in the desktop arena and created a very strong brand name in this market, the #1 provider for mobile graphic solutions remains ATi.
ATi entered the mobile business in 1998 with an AGP graphics solution. A year later, the first ATi chip with embedded SDRAM followed. The OEM strength in the chip business provided ATi the inside look for the needs of the notebook makers, which are good driver support, same footprint for different chips to serve different segments of the market, low power consumption and no need for external memory.
NVIDIA is expanding to every segment of the graphics business. It covers professional graphics with the Quadro2 Pro, hardcore gaming with the Geforce2 GTS/Ultra series and the value segment with the Geforce2 MX and the Vanta. The only two areas that are growing faster than the desktop market are the console market e.g. the Playstation2 and the mobile computer market. Those two areas are now the targets of NVIDIA's expansion plans. Is NVIDIA strong enough for all those businesses? Twice a year NVIDIA releases a further advanced desktop chip. Microsoft is pushing hard for the X-Box. The professional graphics sector requires plenty of R&D resources and now there is the mobile market with completely different requirements in driver and ODM/OEM support. The drivers need more power management features and stability. The support for the chip customers must change too. You can't just take a reference board and plug it into a notebook. Only time will tell if NVIDIA is able to handle all those many things at the same time.
The current market situation looks like this.
Mercury Research - Portable Graphics Chip Market Share (Q3 00)
NVIDIA threatens ATi's position in the high-end market, while the value segment with the volume and cost pressure is moving to the integrated graphics solutions. VIA, ALi, SiS and Intel offer chipsets with embedded graphics. From the desktop graphics performance point of view, the speed is average at best. Some notebook users would kill for desktop 3D-performance. The only place where you can't upgrade your VGA solution offers the lowest 3D performance. Powerful 3D eats up wattage and generates a lot of heat. Different requirements need different approaches. NVIDIA and ATi found a way to get more 3D power into a notebook.