What is MXM?
MXM was chiefly developed by nVidia as well as co-produced with design ideas direct from the world's leading notebook manufacturers and is a royalty-free consistent graphics interface for all PCI Express enabled notebook computers.
It is essentially just like the regular and proven AGP port on your desktop motherboard but for notebooks. It is defined by specifications and requirements, just like AGP, which must be adhered to by companies wishing to produce MXM based products for upcoming MXM compatible notebook computers which should become available in the second half of this year.
All you do is pull the old MXM module out from your notebook (without the need of having to unscrew anything) and switch it over with your new MXM module - in almost the exact same fashion we use AGP graphics cards today. Below you can see an artist's impression of the upcoming GeForce Go 6 using the MXM design.
It is expected ATI and others will also join in on the MXM fun which nVidia is more than happy for them to do, as told to media multiple times during the recent conference call last week. When MXM systems become available, you will have the option of choosing MXM modules with your GPU of choice from your favorite add-in board partner - not just nVidia based but ATI, XGI, VIA S3 and so on. That is, if they choose to produce MXM based modules since we have had no confirmation of this as yet. As far as we can see though, they will be left behind the game if they choose not to participate.
Like nVidia told us, sometimes getting a consistent interface is just a matter of getting everyone to agree on something and this time a vast group companies have done just this, which can usually prove to be a difficult task in this industry.
Initially nVidia has defined three different sized PCI Express MXM modules as you can see in the image above. The first, named MXM-I, is designed for thin and light notebooks measuring the smallest of them all at 70mm x 66mm for budget priced notebooks.
The second is MXM-II which is designed for mainstream notebooks. This MXM module measures in at a slightly larger 73mm x 78mm.
The third and final is MXM-III. It is designed for desktop replacement systems and is designed to deliver performance comparable to desktop systems. As you can imagine, it is the largest of the lot measuring in at 80mm x 100mm which is still much smaller than the highest powered AGP cards on the market at the moment.
A single 230-pin connector (which you can see below) will be used for each MXM type module making the buying decision very simple for consumers knowing they can choose any MXM module for their notebook and it will fit.
MXM also gives the ability for notebook manufacturer production to be a lot more hassle-free and flexible by being able to offer a wider range of models with varying graphics solutions theoretically at a cheaper price since a universal connector is in place and a separate graphics board does not need to be produced for each new line of notebooks to come to market. It also saves the hassle of having to physically connect the graphics board to the notebook motherboard with solder which while works fine is slow and time consuming.
Now you have an idea about what MXM is, let's examine why we actually need the new technology. PTO.