Integrated Graphics Performance: It's all in the chips

NVIDIA nForce 2 IGP - GeForce 4 MX 440 Integrated

NVIDIA equips its nForce 2 IGP northbridge for the Athlon platform with its last year's mainstream GPU - the GeForce 4 MX 440. Despite the number "4" in its name, the chip has very little in common with the GeForce 4 Ti series. Technologically, it even ranks behind a GeForce 3 and is really more of a heavily optimized GeForce 2 GPU. In practice, this makes it a DirectX 7-class GPU with hardware T&L features, but without support for pixel and vertex shaders. The major differences compared to the GeForce 2 Ti are an optimized memory interface and an improved anti-aliasing, or multi sampling FSAA.

The GeForce 4 MX 440 GPU in the nForce 2 does not possess its own memory controller. Instead, an optimized memory controller in the northbridge is responsible for the chip's memory needs. It acts as a kind of arbiter, deciding how much bandwidth each of the components receives. At the same time, it has to balance the different requirements of the low latency of the system memory and of the high bandwidth of the graphics chip against each other.