Q4: Improving Along
The company whose first attempt to enter the desktop 3D graphics field had been a disaster seemed to be ready for a second try.
October 20, XGI made a brave statement that we were up to a series of new GPUs from this developer in the beginning of 2005. The second attempt of XGI is going to be more daring – the XG45/47 processors will support Shader Model 3.0, according to the announcement! The company will abandon the ill-fated multi-chip technology and will take to collaborate seriously with game developers.
Well, it is yet to be seen if XGI’s second try is a success. So far the company has been supplying the Volari Z7 chip, announced October 12. This GPU doesn’t support 3D functions and is intended for areas where 3D graphics isn’t required.
GeForce 6600 GT AGP: Interface-Lifting
About that time, in the middle of November, another interesting thing happened – NVIDIA announced the AGP version of the GeForce 6600 GT.
By that time the company had found itself incapable of offering anything to users with a graphics card budget of about $200, while the graphics cards of the GeForce FX series were too slow in modern games to be an appealing buy. Here NVIDIA put its experience with the early PCI Express graphics cards to good use. The HSI bridge, much criticized by ATI, can work in both directions, i.e. it can serve to transform a PCI Express graphics card into an AGP-compatible one. The GeForce 6600 GT AGP was a realization of the idea – the company redesigned the original PCB, rotating the GPU and the memory chips by 45 degrees, and putting a bridge chip near the GPU.
The memory frequency of the resulting product had to be reduced from 1000MHz to 900MHz, probably to avoid stability-related problems. The AGP version of the card also acquired a Molex power connector. Thus, NVIDIA got a middle-range AGP graphics card with a new architecture at practically no effort.
From that moment the GeForce FX architecture can be considered as ultimately dead. The GeForce 6600 GT AGP is much faster in modern games than the peak of the earlier architecture, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra.