Scaling Complexity, Performance and Speed
technology goes mainstream for graphics
GeForce4 is constructed of 63 million transistors on a
.15-micron process. NVIDIA has already confirmed that
NV30 will make the transition to .13-micron and speculation
puts the transistor count at 120+ million ? nearly twice
that of the GeForce4. The increase in complexity comes
not only from the capabilities previously discussed, but
also the addition of 128-bit, floating point color
graphics processors are limited to eight bits of color
precision per channel, which introduces the possibility of
artifacts should too much ?number rounding? occur.
NV3X is able to switch between 64-bit and 128-bit precision
depending on the required accuracy and desired performance.
ATI demonstrated 128-bit precision at the R300 launch using
natural light to illuminate synthetic objects.
So, it will be interesting to see what other effects
developers are able to achieve with the capabilities
afforded by higher precision.
Image taken from ATi R300 launch
demonstrating 128-bit color precision
already been given some indication of how the RADEON 9700
will perform. In many high-resolution tests, with
anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled, the ATI
card is able to double the frame rates of NVIDIA?s current
champion. According to ATI, the card should be on
store shelves by the middle of August. Full reviews of
retail RADEON 9700 boards should begin surfacing a few days
before - if ATI holds true to its word.
RADEON 9700 is compliant with DirectX 9, the update to
Microsoft?s API won?t be ready for public consumption until
late this year. Games featuring support for DirectX 9 are
even further away. NVIDIA has the launch of the NV30
aligned with the DX9 release, so we?d expect to see an
official launch late this fall with boards arriving before
the Christmas buying season. The only foreseeable
result of the two products being released in tandem would be
the possibility of a few DirectX 9 benchmarks, so don't read
too far into the convenient timing.
hardware standpoint, relatively little is known about the
NV30. Operating frequencies, anti-aliasing techniques,
and even memory subsystem details are still under wraps.
What we do know is that NV30 will be compliant with DirectX
9, it will be constructed using .13-micron process
technology (hopefully lending itself to high clock speeds),
and it will introduce 128-bit color precision, hence
NVIDIA?s claim that NV30 will be the first ?Cinematic
Shading GPU.? It hasn?t been announced yet whether
NV30 will utilize a 128 or 256-bit memory bus, but it is
clear that a form of DDR-II memory will be used for
extremely high data rates.
time being, NVIDIA's GeForce4 Ti 4600 is the fastest card on
the market. When RADEON 9700 makes its way to store
shelves, ATI will claim that title. NVIDIA hopes that
NV30 will follow soon after, ready to bombard the RADEON
with salvo after salvo of new technology and high-end
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