Articles: Graphics

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By the end of the winter we saw the completion of the most impressive and promising project in the history of graphics cards production. The new creation of NVIDIA, the GeForce FX GPU (nee NV30) came into this world.

While the new chip was being concocted deep in the innards of NVIDIA, the outer world was catching at any rumor or supposition about it. All but the lazy were savoring any piece of news about NV30 from NVIDIA and R300 from ATI. And everyone agreed NV30 would be more functional, more flexible and faster than its rival.

But it seems like NVIDIA had put too high a goal before itself to be achieved during the standard half-a-year-long (or a full year long – for brand-new architectures) development cycle of new products. The simultaneous transition to the absolutely new architecture and the more advanced 0.13micron technological process called for much more efforts than had been expected.

While NVIDIA was sorting out its problems, its “good old enemy” ATI released RADEON 9700 / 9700 PRO chips. Using the smooth and proven 0.15micron tech process and some of the innovations first implemented back in RADEON 9000 (RV250), ATI got the opportunity to tout a first DirectX 9-compatible graphics chip. We all know what has happened since then: ATI didn’t expect its “pilot ball” to be such a success and hurriedly issued a full series of chips based on the R300 architecture. Moreover, in order to save effort and time, the company didn’t develop any “value” versions of R300, but built the whole series of products on one and the same chip. To reduce the performance and price of the Value solution they simply disabled some functional units and narrowed the memory bus. This approach proved to be strategically correct and brought surprising results: having not encountered any worthy competition from NVIDIA’s side, graphics cards based on the new ATI’s chip were growing more and more popular and now the company faces the problem of severe chips shortage.

And what about NVIDIA? If we take on trust earlier rumors about NV30 and compare them with the final specs, we might suppose that there have been too many problems encountered on the way to the silicon implementation of the concept and the NV30 chip has been changed and simplified a number of times. So the outcome probably includes only a small part of the intended potential. Nonetheless, NVIDIA’s competitors shouldn’t delude themselves: NVIDIA just couldn’t roll out a GPU that would be slower than RADEON 9700 PRO. Otherwise, the company wouldn’t release it at all!

So, what’s the monster we have all been waiting for like?  What is GeForce FX?

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