AMD just launched its Broadway family of mobile GPUs. As it turns out, the most interesting take on the Mobility Radeon 5870 is the external GPU box for netbooks and the like. First and foremost, I have a confession to make. As a person who walks 20 kilometers a day on tradeshows and in general lives in planes, I do have a thing for smaller notebooks.

AMD XGP in action - Acer Ferrari One and XGP box with 5870 - Broadway GPU
AMD XGP in action – Acer Ferrari One and XGP box with 5870 – Broadway GPU

If there is one thing I could not stand at small notebooks and netbooks is the lack of graphics power when you finally get a chance to play with something, for instance in a hotel room that features a shiny LCD TV. Personally, I have zero desire to watch cable TV or CNN going on all the time.

Thus, I view XGP as a valiant effort to finally change that, and to enable road warriors to have a mobile computer that can live through the working day, or a flight from let’s say Frankfurt to San Francisco and not to have graphics performance that resembles a 150-year old turtle.

AMD XGP connector on Acer Ferrari One

AMD launched XGP way back at Computex Taipei 2008 but the company only got a single design win with Fujitsu Siemens, but the luck is now turning. On CES, AMD showed an Acer Ferrari One, a hybrid between a netbook and a notebook, connected to a small black box that featured a DVI, three DisplayPorts and a HDMI, as well as two USB ports and an external power connector with a 35W adapter connected to it. The inside was consisted out of 1GB of GDDR5 memory and a Juniper GPU. You’ve read it correctly, after nVidia went into their maniacal GPU renaming mode, even the mighty Intel started to rename their products accordingly. Thus, AMD had no reason not to name Juniper GPU 5770 on the desktop side of things, and Mobility Radeon 5870 on notebook side of things. Then again, we feel this is a lost opportunity to be really open and honest about what technology goes where.

Broadway box... now, here's a question - why do product codenames sound so good and retail names sound so boring?
Broadway XGP box… now, here’s a question – why do product codenames sound so good and retail names sound so boring?

When it comes to performance, seeing Tom Clancy’s H.A.V.X. on three displays in Eyefinity configuration is nothing else but sweet. To play the game on three displays using nothing else but a puny netbook gives us hope that there is decent performance out there.

We hope to see Acer bringing the Mobility Radeon HD 5870 upgrade kit as soon as possible, hopefully spanning it across the product range.