NVIDIA Corporation Brings Pascal to Laptops

By Markets Fool.com

Image source: NVIDIA.

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Graphics specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) began rolling out graphics processors based on its Pascal architecture back in May of this year. The initial round of products targeted gamers that play games on desktop personal computers.

However, with each graphics processor generation, the company has also rolled out versions of its graphics processors targeted at gaming laptops. According to the company, the gaming notebook market is "the fastest growing gaming platform," having enjoyed 30% year-over-year growth over the last year.

Historically, these notebook-oriented versions of those graphics processors have been significantly weaker than their desktop counterparts. The gap had been shrinking over the last several generations, though, as NVIDIA had been quite proud to point out at its product launches. With Pascal, it seems that the company has finally closed that gap.

GTX 10-series for notebooks

NVIDIA launched three graphics processors for notebooks: GeForce GTX 1060, GeForce GTX 1070, and GeForce GTX 1080. These processors are branded identically to their desktop counterparts and, according to the company, should perform just about the same as their desktop counterparts.

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The GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 for notebooks are virtually identical to their desktop counterparts (the main difference being that the 1060 for notebooks has a slightly lower boost speed of 1.67GHz compared to the 1.708GHz boost clock of the desktop model).

The GTX 1070 for notebooks is a bit different. It's intended to offer the same performance as the desktop GTX 1070 (which is, itself, a partially disabled GTX 1080 paired with slower GDDR5 memory rather than the faster GDDR5X), but it gets there a bit differently.

Instead of 1920 graphics cores running at a boost speed of 1.683GHz, it has 2048 graphics cores running at 1.645GHz boost clock.

Many partners launching product

Desktop-bound graphics processors are usually sold in two ways. First, as add-in-boards from NVIDIA as well as a range of partners directly to consumers who then take those boards and plug them into systems themselves. Second, as add-in-boards that are pre-installed into personal computers.

With notebooks, often the only way to get ahold of a particular graphics processor is to buy a notebook with said graphics processor pre-installed. This means that NVIDIA relies on partners putting out compelling systems based on its graphics processors to move product.

In its launch presentation for the mobile GTX 10-series graphics processors, NVIDIA included a slide listing a broad range of partners, as you can see below:

Image source: NVIDIA.

It'll probably be a little while before all of these vendors make available notebooks using these graphics processors, but there are already notebooks using these processors available on Newegg.com (notably from MSI, ASUS, and Gigabyte).

The Pascal roll-out is nearly complete

At this point, the roll-out of NVIDIA's gaming-oriented Pascal graphics processors -- for both notebooks and desktops -- is nearly complete. All that's really left is for the company to launch GP107, which should be slower and lower cost than the GP106-based GTX 1060 (for both notebooks and desktops). There's a GP108 coming, too, but this one probably won't be all that interesting to most gamers.

"We have taped out, we have verified, we have ramped every Pascal [graphics processing unit]," NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said on the company's most recent earnings call. "However, we have not introduced every one."

It probably won't be too long before the rest of the Pascal family of graphics processors is out in the marketplace, but for the bulk of the gaming market, the roll-out seems pretty much complete.

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Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Nvidia. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.