To say Nvidia plays fast and loose with product naming consistency would be an understatement. We've seen the company's G92 graphics processor appear in GeForce 8800, 9800, GTS 200, and GTX 200M products, for example, and the more recent GT218 chip has already made its way into GeForce 200, 300, and next-generation Ion product lines.
Nvidia addressed the subject when speaking with the folks at Bit-Tech, and interestingly, the firm blames PC vendors for its rebranding frenzies. "OEMs, such as Dell and HP, often require new products because they need to have something new to sell to customers," the site says, adding that Nvidia claims "most rebrands are OEM only products and would never be seen within the retail space."
The aforementioned examples fly in the face of that last statement, although Nvidia may be distinguishing between releasing tweaked versions of old products under new names and straight rebranding. GeForce 300M-series mobile GPUs, for instance, have purportedly improved performance and power efficiency compared to their 200M-series predecessors, although they're based on the exact same graphics chips.
Nvidia isn't the only one to blame its partners for such practices. When AMD briefed us on its new Mobility Radeon HD 5000-series graphics cards last year, we saw the presentation mentioned Mobility Radeon HD 5165 and 5145 products. When we asked for details, AMD said that those parts would simply be faster Mobility Radeon HD 4000-series products, explaining that its partners wanted faster 55-nm GPUs with "better" branding.