Nvidia's first IGP targets mainstream market

Santa Clara (CA) - Nvidia is aiming at the high-volume mainstream graphics market with its first integrated graphics solution previously know as "C51." The company offers a mix-and-match product for board and system builders that consists of two nForce media and communications processors (MCPs) and two graphics chips with a GeForce 6 core.

The launch of the C51 comes one day after we learned that ATI apparently has placed its Xpress 200 integrated graphics processor (IGP) with Intel and will cover at least one entry-level Intel-branded board. Nvidia's IGP will only be available for AMD-targeted boards, but is yet another sign that the world's two largest manufacturers of discrete graphics chips are getting more serious about the mainstream market and claim a greater portion of that pie.

Nvidia says its first IGP will not deliver the performance needed for high-end gaming, but will offer enough capability for mainstream graphics that include not only general games but also graphics-heavy digital media applications such as high definition video or Google's "Earth" software.

The PCI Express-based C51 IGP answers an ongoing shift from AGP to PCI Express boards, which happens much faster that on the discrete graphics side, according to Nvidia. System builders can choose between two MCPs and two graphics processors to build systems for entry-level, mainstream or higher-end mainstream devices, which for example include entertainment center PCs. The offering includes the nForce 410 and 430 - which differ slightly through their feature sets. The 410 comes standard with 10/100 Mbit Ethernet, two SATA interfaces, RAID 0,1 support and Nvidia's Mediashield technology. The 430 extends the functionality with support for 1 Gbit Ethernet, an integrated firewall, four SATA ports, as well as RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5.

The company did not release details about the new GeForce 6100 and 6150 graphics processors, which will be offered in the C51 package. The 6100 will serve as the basic solution and delivers core GeForce 6 features, including support for DirectX 9 and Shader Model 3. The 6150 will deliver more performance especially for HD video and will offer two instead of the 6100's one x1 PCI Express port. Both processors also offer one x16 connect.

According to Nvidia, the C51 is "ready" for Windows Vista. However, users will have to adjust their perception of "ready" claims for Microsoft's upcoming operating system. In order to run all graphics features of the software, users will need a fairly new discrete graphics board with 256 MByte of memory, integrated chipsets will support Vista in terms of a "tiered" performance configuration: On system that use IGPs, the operating system will scale down the use of graphics and animation.