Nvidia expected to unveil GeForce 4 next week

Graphics chip maker Nvidia is expected to unveil its GeForce 4 family at a press conference scheduled for next week in San Francisco, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

The chip maker will likely lift the lid on its GeForce 4 family of processors, including its consumer high-end GeForce4 GPU (graphics processing unit) and its mainstream GeForce4 MX, said Peter N. Glaskowski, senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources.

The GeForce 4 GPU has so far been codenamed NV-25, which is the same name that has been applied to Nvidia's graphics core in Microsoft's XBox gaming console, Glaskowski said.

PC vendors including Compaq, Dell, and Apple offer Nvidia-based graphics cards.

Apple may have taken some of the surprise out of next week's event by introducing on Monday Nvidia's GeForce4 MX graphics processor in its first Macintosh to reach the 1GHz speed barrier. The new Power Mac G4 uses the card and is equipped with 64M bytes of on-chip DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM).

The GeForce4 MX is "probably not as sophisticated or as fast as the GeForce4 (GPU), but it should be pretty close," Glaskowski said. "It should be comparable to or better than the GeForce3 is today."

While Nvidia itself had not yet announced the graphics card, it's likely the two companies had an agreement to allow Apple to launch its machine with the Nvidia card, Glaskowski said. "It's extremely unusual for Apple or any other OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to introduce a graphics chip before the company that makes it has discussed it publically," he said.

Nvidia would not comment on next week's event, but did confirm that it had not announced the GeForce4 MX prior to Apple's Power Mac G4 launch.

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Douglas F. Gray

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