Accelerating the convergence of film and real-time rendering
Although summer is still young, things are definitely beginning to heat up in the 3D graphics market. Matrox kicked things off with its re-entrance into the high-end graphics market with its Parhelia graphics card. Then, just last week ATI unveiled its RADEON 9000 DirectX 8 board and its next generation RADEON 9700 graphics card. Not wanting to be left out of the party, NVIDIA has chosen to use SIGGRAPH to unveil new details on its next generation graphics core, which is taking place this week in San Antonio. Unlike an event like Comdex, SIGGRAPH is geared solely towards the professional graphics community. This makes it a natural fit for NVIDIA to unveil new details on its graphics hardware: the content developers and engineers that use NVIDIA’s hardware on a daily basis are all right there.
Moving beyond nfiniteFX
The key message NVIDIA plans to deliver with the NV3x family is the cinema quality graphics effects it brings to the table. This is something we’ve been hearing from NVIDIA for quite awhile now, and ultimately reached reality when NVIDIA demonstrated a Quadro GPU rendering scenes from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within at SIGGRAPH 2001 last summer. As impressive as that demonstration was, NVIDIA feels it has taken an even greater step forward in bringing the world of film to the PC with its next generation graphics technology. To highlight this, NVIDIA has chosen the moniker “CineFX” to brand the graphics engine of its next generation graphics processor. While NVIDIA hasn’t disclosed the complete details of its new CineFX architecture, a few morsels of information have just been revealed.
First off, we now know that NVIDIA has taken the programmable roots of the GeForce3/GeForce4 GPUs to another level with the CineFX architecture in NV3x. For vertex processing, new instructions are introduced such as logarithmic functions and high-precision trigonometric functions. In fact, the number of instructions supported by the CineFX architecture has jumped from 128 in nfiniteFX to 65,536 in CineFX. This gives programmers the ability to create even more effects while using simpler programming techniques. Do you recall the Zoltar demo used in the original GeForce3 launch? Several shaders had to be written to create the lifelike skin and bone structure Mr. Zoltar possessed. With CineFX, one shader can be written to accomplish the same task.