Modest clock speed increases produce GeForce GT 540M

There's a new mobile GeForce in town. Sort of. Engadget has word that a GeForce GT 540M has joined Nvidia's stable of notebook-worthy graphics chips. The first in a family of upcoming GeForce 500M products, one might expect the 540M to draw from the same re-spun silicon that powers the only 500-series GPU available on the desktop, the high-end GeForce GTX 580.

This is Nvidia, though. Rather than tapping a new graphics chip, the 540M uses the same 40-nano GF108 silicon that underpins the existing GeForce GT 415M through the 435M. According to the press release, Nvidia is "taking an already proven architecture and using the maturity of the manufacturing process to create GPUs with higher clock settings while staying in the same power envelope." So, how much higher are the clocks? Versus the GeForce GT 435M, which was Nvidia's fastest GF108-based mobile GPU, the 540M bumps the core up 22MHz to 672MHz and the shaders up 44MHz to 1344MHz. The memory interface speed has also been increased from 800 to 900MHz, although the number of stream processors remains unchanged at 96.

Apparently, a 12.5% increase in memory speed coupled with a 3.4% increase in core and shader clocks is worth 105 points on Nvidia's mobile GeForce model number scale. "GeForce GT 440M" might've been a more appropriate name for this one.

Acer is already selling a GeForce GT 540M-based notebook in China, and Nvidia promises the product will be available worldwide in one month's time. That conveniently coincides with the launch of Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs, which are expected to start trickling into laptops in early January. Oddly, though, Nvidia's press release suggests that the 540M will be paired with dual-core CPUs based on Intel's existing Arrandale mobile CPUs. Perhaps we'll see a Sandy Bridge version dubbed the GeForce GT 640M.

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