ATI took the wraps of Axiom, its alternative PCI Express-based modular notebook graphics add-in system top Nvidia's MXM today, as expected.
Axiom - which stands for 'Advanced eXpress IO Module', apparently - is electrically compatible with PCI Express, but appears to use its own "connector implementation".
Whereas Nvidia has plotted three sub-sets of its MXM platform, ATI has two, one for thin'n'light machines, the other for performance-oriented systems. Presumably, it feels the third category, the mainstream segment, is less populated by users who might be interested in graphics upgrades.
The two Axiom graphics sub-sets are - not coincidentally - based on ATI's Mobility Radeon X600 chips, also launched today. The thin'n'light version uses the X600 with up to 128MB of SDRAM fitted inside the chip packaging, while the performance part uses the discreet version of the X600. It hopes that version will appeal to notebook vendors who want to add Axiom with as little tinkering to existing designs as possible - the module simply uses off-package memory.
Interestingly, ATI is also pushing Axiom as the foundation for other PCI Express-delivered services, not just graphics. With its joint focus on maintaining electrical compatibility with the standard and also providing "space savings", ATI hopes Axiom will find other uses. But with PCI Express already encompassing a successor to PCMCIA and PC Card, that seems less likely. ®