Laptops aren't just for business anymore. The power differential between desktop and portable systems is quickly shrinking, and we are seeing laptop systems replace desktops. Laptops are becoming the primary system for many users. Many college students opt for portable laptops that allow them to write papers (or appear to at least) in a favorite café or at the library while drawing the notice of students of the opposite sex (and muggers if you go to Berkeley
DVD-ROM drives have turned laptops into portable theaters, and laptops have become formidable competitors to the desktop monoliths thanks to Intel's latest mobile processors and chipsets. While these laptop improvements are great for the average user, none really help the gamer. In terms of gaming, there's no doubt that laptop systems are still lagging behind the desktop PC. In fact, 3D acceleration only started appearing on laptop systems last year. Things are quickly changing. The laptop market is growing at a rapid pace, and now many of the major graphics manufacturers are getting ready to grab a piece of the mobile 3D market.
ATI was the first heavyweight graphics manufacturer to enter the mobile graphics market. Like taking candy from a baby, ATI quickly gained market share from a then dominant NeoMagic
. ATI Technologies introduced the first mobile 3D accelerator based on the Rage Pro based chips. This was right before the performance explosion in 3D accelerators, so playing games, competitively, on a laptop was still impractical. It's commonly accepted that the primary purpose for a laptop is business, not gaming.
ATI's mobile offerings can be found in many notebooks today. The company currently hold the highest market share in the mobile market, at 37%. Offering more than just a high-end chip, ATI has several different mobile chips which target the many classes of notebooks, everything from the $1,200 budget systems to the new $5,000 high-end workstation notebooks.
ATI recently visited our offices to show us that the laptops-are-only-for-work stereotype is changing, and, in the very near future, laptops will be used for both work and play. ATI's new Rage Mobility 128, offering everything from hardware DVD decoding to impressive 3D performance, will usher in a new age of laptop functionality.