Nvidia releases new graphics chip, ATI to follow

The promise of cinematic computing will get a little closer to reality with the availability of new graphics chips from industry leaders Nvidia and ATI Technologies over the coming weeks.

Nvidia's GeForce 6800 chips were formally unveiled Tuesday night in San Francisco at a launch event. They include Microsoft's DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 feature set, Nvidia said. ATI is expected to release its own chips that will rival Nvidia's later this month.

The DirectX 9.0 technology is a collection of APIs (application programming interfaces) that let games and other multimedia programs take advantage of the full capability of advanced graphics chips. Shader Model 3.0 will allow graphics designers to realistically portray human characteristics such as flesh tone to create some of the most compelling video games and movies yet, said Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research in Tiburon, California.

"If the graphics are good enough, you don't see the graphics. You get directly involved in the story," Peddie said.

The new chips are a stepping stone on the path to cinematic computing, or the ability to create sophisticated images on an everyday PC. Movie developers for projects such as "Finding Nemo" currently require expensive high-performance graphics workstations to create the images for the movie.

Nvidia added GDDR3 (graphics double data rate) memory and additional floating-point engines to the new generation of graphics chips to reach that level of performance, the company said. It also added an on-chip video processor as a dedicated video engine for encoding and decoding MPEG video.

"Nvidia has vastly improved performance over the GeForce FX series with the GeForce 6 series GPU (graphics processor unit)," wrote Brent Justice, an editor with the hardware enthusiast Web site Hard OCP, in a review of the technology posted on that site.

The new generation of graphics processors are powerful enough to be used as supercomputer processors, Peddie said. Some universities and laboratories are using older generations of graphics chips in supercomputing clusters due to their superior number-crunching ability, he said.

Most users who don't play PC games have no need for that level of performance, but the PC gaming community is willing to pay top dollar for advances in graphics technology that will improve the performance of their gaming experience. Gamers also tend to influence the purchasing decisions of friends and family members who are less tech-savvy, so companies like Nvidia and ATI compete ferociously for the top spot in the graphics processor market.

Nvidia and ATI also compete to have their technology included in the console gaming market. Nvidia had been the supplier for Microsoft's Xbox console, but ATI recently won a contract to supply the chips for the next-generation of that platform. The two companies are jousting to see which chip will wind up in Sony's PlayStation 3.

Most of the graphics chips will be used in graphics cards for PCs from mainstream companies like Hewlett-Packard as well as from PC companies that cater to gamers, Nvidia said.

The cards will also be available for purchase separately, and they are expected to be available in 45 days, Nvidia said.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?