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Nvidia Corp., a leading developer of graphics processing units (GPUs) and system chipsets, has announced a lineup of new visual processing units that support DirectX 10 capabilities and will be available on the market starting from $89. The new processors can not only drive high-end feature-set down to the mainstream market, but promise to fully offload high-definition video processing away from central processing units (CPUs).

“These new GPUs extend the reach of our award-winning GeForce 8-series and offer cutting-edge, next-generation features to everyone from the hardcore gamer to the casual PC user,” said Jeff Fisher, senior vice president of the GPU business unit at Nvidia.

The new GeForce 8600 GTS, 8600 GT, 8500 GT , 8400 and 8300 graphics processors are based on the G80 architecture, but contain lower amount of stream processors, texture units, raster operation units and other execution units which amount are critical for performance. The newly released GeForce 8600-series graphics chips features two “blocks” with 32 stream processors (which work at 1.45GHz), 16 texture modules, 8 raster operation units (ROPs) and 128-bit memory controller. Other solutions from the new lineup either contain less processing units or work at lower clock-speeds.

Performance of the currently fastest DirectX 10 compatible mainstream graphics product – GeForce 8600 GTS – deserves to be higher, as a review at X-bit labs revealed. The GeForce 8600 GTS graphics card performs as good as the GeForce 7900 GS, a product that has been available on the market for 8 months already. In certain benchmarks the 8600 GTS is faster, in other, it is slower than the GeForce 7900 GS, but in the vast majority of situations it lags behind the Radeon X1950 Pro.

The new GeForce 8600-/8500-series graphics processors also feature enhancements to the PureVideo HD technology, which, thanks to the so-called Bitstream processor, allows to decode Context-Adaptive Variable Length Coding (CAVLC) and Context-Adaptive Binary Arithmetic Coding (CABAC) entropic algorithms, which are used along with H.264 and VC-1 high definition video codecs. Thus, Nvidia can proclaim 100% offload of high definition video processing from CPU.

Graphics cards based on the GeForce 8600 GTS will cost from $199-229 in the USA, the GeForce 8600 GT will be sold at $149-159 price-points, whereas the price on the model 8500 GT  will vary from $89 to $129. GeForce 8400 and 8300 will be available for system builders only. Graphics cards based on GeForce 8600 GTS GPUs are available now, while the GeForce 8600 GT and GeForce 8500 GT will be available on or before May 1, 2007.

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