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Going into the holiday shopping season, NVIDIA finds itself in an unusual position – playing catch up to ATI. Not only has NVIDIA lost the high-end segment, but in a matter of weeks, their GeForce4 Titanium line will be under intense pressure from ATI’s RADEON 9500 family. On paper RADEON 9500 PRO looks like it could be a GeForce 4 Ti 4200-killer, which is one of NVIDIA’s most successful products this year. The vanilla RADEON 9700 cards that will be unleashed by ATI’s add-in board partners also outmatch NVIDIA’s flagship GeForce4 Ti 4600.
Clearly NVIDIA needs an answer to the R300 core that is powering all of ATI’s DirectX 9 products. That answer is GeForce FX (formerly known by its codename, NV30).
Like RADEON 9700, GeForce FX is a next-generation graphics part designed for DirectX 9. NVIDIA claims that GeForce FX will offer three times the frame rate of GeForce4 Ti 4600 and three times the vertex processing of GeForce4 Ti 4600. But that’s just for starters.
Behold, GeForce FX!
GeForce FX requires external power
GeForce FX will also be the first graphics accelerator to ship with DDR2 memory. DDR2 allows for unprecedented data rates, in the case of GeForce FX, NVIDIA is shooting for a minimum of 1GHz (officially operating at 500MHz). If NVIDIA is able to deliver on this figure, GeForce FX would boast twice the memory bandwidth of anything currently available on the market.
But it doesn’t stop there, NVIDIA’s GeForce FX boasts an enhanced, LightSpeed Memory Architecture 3 with one of the key additions being NVIDIA’s new color compression technology. This compression is completely loss-less, meaning there is no reduction in image quality of precision. As a result, memory bandwidth is used more efficiently, especially when anti-aliasing is enabled. Speaking of anti-aliasing, GeForce FX sports two new modes, a 6XS mode for Direct3D and a new 8X mode for both OpenGL and Direct3D.
Some of you may be surprised by the name of NVIDIA’s next generation part “GeForce FX”. As NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang was previously quoted as saying that the GeForce moniker would not be used with NV30. Apparently, the marketing team has changed its mind on that decision. In fact, NVIDIA boasts that GeForce FX is the first product that is a result of the 3dfx/Gigapixel technology that was purchased two years ago, and thus, the name GeForce FX was chosen to reflect this.
But GeForce FX is about much more than its DDR2 memory or fill-rate performance, it also boasts new pixel and vertex shaders that go beyond DirectX 9, features a 128-bit floating-point pipeline, and is currently being demonstrated with an exotic cooling solution. Lets start with the increased precision GeForce FX offers.