ATI brought in an Intel mobile platform for our testing. The Intel platform is basically a motherboard that simulates the actual mobile environment, and the Mobility 128 we tested was on an AGP card. Production laptops have the graphics chip on the motherboard. We used the same benchmark protocol with the mobile system as we do with our standard reviews.
Mobile Pentium III BX chipset
Coppermine P3-500, running at 100 MHz FSB
ATI Rage Mobility 16MB
2GB Quantum Fireball SE
Hitachi 2500 DVD-ROM
Quake 3 Retail - 640x480 Fastest, Normal, High Quality
Quake 3 Retail - 800x600 Fastest, Normal, High Quality
Quake 3 Retail - 1280x1024 Fastest, Normal, High Quality
3DMark2000 - 800x600x16
3DMark2000 - 800x600x32
3DMark2000 - 1024x768x16
3DMark2000 - 1024x768x32
All tests were run in expanded mode, which means that the Rage Mobility 128 was upscaling all images to fill in the 1400x1050 pixels on the LCD screen. According to ATI, this resampling causes a 2-3% performance drop. This performance hit will only occur on digital flat panels, and not with CRTs.
Currently, the top mobile graphic providers besides ATI, include S3, NeoMagic, and Trident. Of these companies, NeoMagic holds the most market share after ATI with S3 battling for the high-end market. NeoMagic has 256bit designs, but this hasn't really translated into faster performance. The power consumption of the Neomagic designs are superior to ATI, but at the price of performance. With growing LCD pixel counts and color depths, larger frame buffers will be needed to drive these panels. Currently, only ATI and S3 have 16MB mobile solutions, and we'll see 32MB very soon.
According to the benchmarks provided by ATI, the Rage Mobility 128 is currently the fastest mobile graphics solution on the market. The numbers provided by ATI compared the newly released Mobility 128 with chips that have been out for a few months. We can expect the competition to respond with faster chips of their own, at which time we will see who holds the performance crown. VIA and S3 are working on a Savage2000 based integrated solution. Rumors are also abound of imminent mobile announcements by NVIDIA and 3dfx, but ATI tells us that they have new designs in the pipeline that will be ready to compete by the time these new products hit the market.
Feature wise, the ATI Mobility series does hold an advantage with the video outputs and DVD support. DVD support in laptops is much more important than in desktops because of the influence on battery life. Thanks to an integrated dual CRT controller, the Mobility 128 also has a Dual-Display feature that is similar to Matrox's Dual-Head option. The Mobility 128 can output two completely different displays at the same time.