Workstation Graphics In Notebooks?
A substantial part of the high price is attributable to the certification process required for these products. For example, most workstation-oriented video cards feature ISV certified 3D OpenGL accelerated drivers, and the certification and development process for designing product drivers that can be ISV certified is expensive. However, the certification process does result in somewhat improved drivers for video cards in the same product families. In the past, these video cards performed well on the targeted OpenGL applications for which they were intended, but due to low pixel fill rates, they had a tendency to fall short on mainstream applications and games.
This has begun to change with the new crop of workstation video cards. New workstation solutions from ATi and nVidia use a mobile version of the GPU core as found in each of their higher end, mainstream video cards. The ATi FireGL 7800 is built on the ATi Mobility Radeon 7500 GPU core, while the nVidia Quadro4Go is built on almost the same silicon as Quadro4, only with slightly different bonding. It is important to remember that the major difference between the workstation and the desktop versions of these products is the optimization made to the driver in order to achieve ISV certification; however, there might also be some added hardware features as well.
Although currently it is not possible to achieve the total true performance of a workstation, these notebooks do have the ability to provide a viable alternative to the existing group of desktop replacement notebooks. Again, expect to pay a premium for this technology, due to the important ISV certification.