Gigabyte GVGF3000 64MB GeForce 3

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The Gigabyte GVGF3000 64MB GeForce 3 - Page 2

The Gigabyte GV-GF3000 64MB GeForce 3
Prepare Yourself...

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
May 15, 2001

The 57 million transistors encapsulated in the .15 micron GPU give the GeForce 3 the capabilities of the new nFiniteFX engine, the Lightspeed memory architecture and HRAA (Quincunx) method.  We've included some screenshots from technology demos provided by nVidia, highlighting these new features. (The captions were only slightly edited)

The nFiniteFX engine is the name nVidia gives to the true hardware support for DirectX 8's vertex and pixel shaders.  The power of these tools has been covered in great depth on a plethora of other sites, so we won't go too in depth here.  Though these shaders can be emulated using CPU power, the GF3 handles them in hardware.  These capabilities make the T&L unit of the GF3 much more powerful than the hardwired T&L units found on the GF2 and Radeon.  The promises we've been hearing from developers about super-high poly count models may soon be fulfilled.

     

Zoltar: Zoltar is a fully animated fortune teller.  GeForce3's nFiniteFX engine enables his facial movements and intricate skin definition.

The GeForce 3's Lightspeed memory architecture is perhaps as significant a step forward as the nFiniteFX engine.  With the GPU clocked at 200MHz, RAM clocked at 230MHz (460MHz effectively) and the same amount of pixel pipes and texture units as the GeForce 2, some would expect the GeForce 3 to be slower than a GF2 Ultra...but they'd be wrong.  Although the theoretical peak fillrate is lower then the 250MHz GPU on a GeForce 2 Ultra, the increased memory bandwidth realized with the Lightspeed memory architecture offers performance as fast or in most cases faster than the GF2 Ultra, even in games that don't take advantage of DirectX 8.  The GeForce 3 can also apply four textures in a single pass as opposed to two with a GeForce 2. Even though the GeForce 3 still has four pixel pipelines, and eight texture units (the same as the GF2) it can assign two of the pipelines up to four texture units (leaving the others idle).  In games that blend over three textures together this results in less reading and writing to memory, which should yield a significant performance increase.  Not only does the GF3 texture more efficiently, but it makes better use of available memory bandwidth because of the Lightspeed memory architecture's Z-Compression, Z-Occlusion Culling and Crossbar memory controller.

The Z-Compression and Z-Occlusion Culling are similar the ATi's HyperZ found in the Radeon.  Z-Buffer data is compressed at a ratio of up to 4:1, and many undrawn pixels are never rendered alleviating memory bandwidth needs.  The Crossbar memory controller is a very powerful addition as well.  Instead of using a single 128-Bit memory interface, the GF3 has four 32-Bit controllers that each have access to all available memory.  The memory still interfaces at an effective 128-Bits per cycle, but the four controllers can access data from different places, so much less bandwidth goes to waste.

                       

Chameleon: The chameleon's changing skin illustrates just a few of the effects possible with GeForce3's nFiniteFX engine.

The next advance is the new Quincunx FSAA method.  Unlike the super-sampling method of the GeForce 2, the GeForce 3 uses a multi-sampling method that requires much less fillrate.  Instead of drawing a screen at a much higher resolution and rendering it down like super-sampling, the new Quincunx method takes a color sample from four surrounding pixels and an algorithm calculates the color value of the final pixel.  The end result is similar in quality to 4X AA, but with much less of a performance penalty.

Blobby Dino: This simple technical demonstration gives a quick look at the geometry deformation abilities of the Vertex Shaders in GeForce3's nFiniteFX engine.

The Whole Enchilada: This "Floating Patch" demo combines the power of GeForce3's Vertex Shaders,  Pixel Shaders, and surface evaluators.

Also migrating to the GeForce 3 is nVidia's Digital Vibrance feature, previously found only on MX based cards.  Digital Vibrance allows a user to adjust color saturation and vibrance to improve overall image quality. All of us at HotHardware are fans of this feature, and are pleased it found it's way into the GeForce 3, the effect it has on 2D image quality is dramatic.

Because our GV-GF3000 was a pre-production sample, we'll keep this next section very brief...

Quality and Installation Of The Gigabyte GV-GF3000
Short and Sweet!

The Gigabyte GV-GF3000 we received was equipped with a simple heatsink / fan combo.  We were not very impressed with this cooler, but it's going to be replaced in the final revision so we won't hold anything against Gigabyte for now.

                   

Our board was not equipped with TV-Out, but there was a DVI connector to appease digital flat panel owners.

The GV-GF3000 installed without incident.  We did not have any problems with the card itself, or with Gigabyte's driver installation.

The CD included with the GV-GF3000 contained multiple versions of nVidia's 7.xx reference drivers.  However, our testing was done using the "beta" 11.01 reference drivers.

To the Benchmarks...

 
Tags:  GeForce, Gigabyte, force, GF

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