For the past year and a half, 3dfx has been the first to launch the next product cycle; first, with their Voodoo2 and then with the Voodoo3. This time around, NVIDIA is stealing the thunder with the release of their GeForce 256. The recently announced product is designed to be a departure from NVIDIA's TNT architecture and a migration towards a new series of graphics cards. In reality, the differences between the GeForce 256 and the previous TNT2 and TNT cards are not incredible in terms of numbers but they are very well defined.

3dfx and S3 can do nothing but stand by idle as NVIDIA either succeeds or fails miserably with the GeForce 256.  Which will it be?  Depending on your current video card it may be either one.  But there is one thing for sure, for now NVIDIA has the fastest 3D accelerator on the market.   But held back by a lack of support for its true potential and maturing drivers may taint the introduction of this part.  Once thing that can be said is that if you've had good experiences with the TNT and TNT2 then you know what you can expect from your GeForce experience since NVIDIA has not under-delivered with this chip.  But how well will the chip stack up in the future and how much of an advantage does it offer over what's currently on the market? 

Those are the questions we'll answer in Part 1 of our GeForce 256 coverage (which, in spite of its name, isn't incomplete at all ).  What we were expecting from the GeForce before ever laying hands on the card was a card that raised the playable resolution mark while adding a few key features that are a step forward for the industry as a whole.  And that's exactly what NVIDIA delivered.

We will be concentrating on answering the question "Should I buy a GeForce 256 and why?" However, in the coming week we will be concentrating on much more in-depth benchmarking of the chip itself with Part 2 of our coverage. So without further ado, let's dive right into the specs straight from NVIDIA…

Features Benefits
Single-Chip GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) On-chip integration of the entire 3D pipeline (transformation, lighting, setup and rendering) offers the lowest possible component and board design cost.
Integrated Transform and Lighting Delivers 2-4X the triangle rate for 2-4X more detailed 3D scenes. Frees up CPU bandwidth for physics and artificial intelligence (AI), which results in more realistic object behaviors and character animation.
Independent Pipelined QuadEngine™ Separate engines for transformation, lighting, setup and rendering provide a very powerful, highly efficient architecture that delivers 15 million triangles per second. Allows applications to represent 3D characters and environments with the highest degree of complexity possible.
256-Bit QuadPipe™ Rendering Engine Four independent pixel-rendering pipelines deliver up to 480 million 8-sample fully filtered pixels per second. Guarantees highest color quality and texturing special effects at maximum frame rate.
AGP 4X with Fast Writes Enables the CPU to send data directly to the GPU to maximize overall system performance. Avoids a costly data copy to and from valuable main memory bandwidth that graphics processors without Fast Writes must incur.
High-Quality HDTV Processor Delivers the highest quality DVD and HDTV playback and digital recording.
350MHz RAMDAC Delivers the clearest, sharpest, most solid image quality at 2048 x 1536 resolution at 75Hz.
High-Speed Memory Interface Design to support current SDRAM/SGRAM and upcoming SDR/DDR high-speed memory.
256-Bit 2D Rendering Engine Delivers the industry’s fastest 2D performance for ultra-fast screen refresh at high resolutions and 32-bit color depths.
Complete Support for New Microsoft® DirectX® 7 and OpenGL® Features Ensures that applications can leverage the new features without additional cost or support. Guarantees best out-of-box end user experience.
The 256

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now