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ATI Technologies said it would come up with its own standard for connection future generation of mobile graphics cards to PCI Express interface later this year, but may also make graphics solutions for MXM interface recently outlined by the arch-rival NVIDIA Corp.

ATI-based MXM Modules Feasible

“If one of our customers chooses to implement an ATI mobile GPU with MXM we would support them. Our attitude has consistently been to support our customers with whatever design specification they choose for their notebooks - with MXM this would be no different,” Jon Carvill, a spokesman for Markham, Ontario-based graphics company told X-bit labs.

Two Separate Standards for Mobile Graphics?

NVIDIA along with Alienware, AOpen, Quanta, Uniwill and Wistron unveiled Monday they had jointly designed a special type of interface for plugging-in graphics modules into notebooks. The interface called MXM will be based on PCI Express x16 lane and will be available in computers built by the manufacturers mentioned above later this year. In addition to 16-lane PCI Express, the MXM connector simultaneously handles all electrical signaling for LVDS, VGA, SDTV, HDTV, and two independent DVI outputs. One simple insertion with one connector means easy assembly at the lowest cost, the company believes.

“In the coming weeks ATI will announce a new mobile specification for PCI Express graphics that will address the needs of multiple market segments and provide customers with an upgradeable model to offer the end-user,” Mr. Carvill explained.

In case ATI’s PCI Express mobile graphics solutions is not exactly compatible with what NVIDIA offers, the market will face two separate standards to connect upgradeable graphics systems to notebooks’ platforms. This is likely to complicate the process of notebook building for system developers. Since notebook companies usually tend to unify everything that is possible, they may follow a more efficient and valuable approach. ATI has been historically more successful in the market of mobile graphics than NVIDIA and may have more chances to promote its interface.

“As we move closer to our mobile PCI Express launch, ATI has tremendous design momentum with OEMs and ODMs for our mobile products, with a full family of products to bring to market.  While announcing a new technology creates excitement in the marketplace, we prefer a more pragmatic approach – launch a new technology when you have products available to support it.  This will be the case with our impending announcement,” the spokesman for ATI said.

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