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nVidia GeForce FX Preview: After several delays, it appears that nVidia's next-gen product is on the horizon. We have a peek at what is dubbed the GeForce FX.
Date: November 18, 2002
Catagory: Articles
Written By:

nVidia is in the unusual position of playing some catchup. For the past few years, starting with the TNT2, they've arguably been leading their competitors when it comes to image quality and performance. Their last product, the GeForce 4, simply powered past everyone else, and provided 3D features many gamers waited for such as improved AA and of course, faster framerates.

With the release of the ATi Radeon 9700 though, the GeForce 4 now looks like yesterdays news. The Radeon 9700 provided people with many things the GF4 lacked, such as DX9 support, improved image quality, and most importantly for gamers, speed.

Enter the GeForce FX, aka the NV30. nVidia promises this to be a no-excuses card, though of course, we'll need to look at final silicon before supporting that claim. What I can tell you that it plans to match, and exceed the features and performance of the Radeon 9700. How will it attempt to do that? Here are some of the features...

0.13u TSMC Micron Process
125 Million Transistors
500MHz GPU
1.0GHz DDR2 Memory
AGP 8X Interface
128-Bit Memory Bus
DirectX 9 Support
Digital Vibrance Control 3.0
Lightspeed Memory Architecture III
8 Pixel Pipelines
CineFX Architecture
Intellisample Technology
Cg Shader Language
Unified Driver Architecture

Before getting into the new stuff, first, we'll go over some of the things that are familiar to most of us...

The Fab Process, AGP 8X and Memory

Click to Enlarge

For those of you who follow the industry, you'll know that there was some delay with the move to the 0.13u process. Trying to fit so many transistors (count 125 million) is no easy task, but with the smaller fabrication process, the GeForce FX can run both faster and cooler.

Although AGP 8X is nothing new for nVidia, this marks the first time that they have built a new card with native AGP 8X support. In theory, AGP 8X will double the available bandwidth in the interface, but how and when that bandwidth will be used will depend a lot on the applications.

DDR2 is an upgrade to current DDR technology. DDR2 provides quite an improvement in memory bandwidth, and with Lightspeed Memory Architecture III, as well as an optimized 128-Bit Memory Bus, memory performance should be much better than before. In case you're wondering why this is important, high resolutions, millions of colours, and Anti-Aliasing all rely on these improvements.

DirectX 9 and Cg

The GeForce FX (GFFX) will support the DirectX 9 specification, and in fact, do more than that. DirectX 8 introduced Pixel and Vertex Shaders, and DirectX 9 upgrades the specifications... by a lot. The problem with the original specifications were that they were more customizable than programmable.

Developers have to rewrite shaders according to hardware, making for a lot of work, and probably a reason why we don't see a whole lot of DX 8 games taking advantage of our card's features.

With the introduction of Cg, and the new DX9 specifications, the Pixel and Vertex Shaders are far more programmable and unified than before. When we look at CineFX, you'll see why.

Next Page - A Closer Look


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