NVIDIA GeForce SDR Roundup (February 00)by Matthew Witheiler on February 16, 2000 1:32 AM EST
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NVIDIA considered the GeForce processor so revolutionary that they even gave it its own name, the GPU for Graphics Processing Unit. Hyped as "a significant breakthrough in realism" by NVIDIA, the goal of the GPU was to allow a video card to do complex processes that previously had to be performed by the CPU. By distributing the workload to the graphics card as well, game designers are, in theory, able to add enhanced polygons to a scene (due to the GeForce's hardware Transform and Lighting) and also enhance gameplay by using more CPU power (for such things as artificial intelligence, ect). In reality, we are yet to see a game take much advantage of the hardware T&L found in the GPU, meaning that all the GeForce processor is capable to doing now is increasing frame rate in games. Perhaps this will change in the future, however it could also end up like Intel's much touted MMX extensions which remain to make a dent in the high performance 3D market.
Having a total of 23 million transistors on a chip produced using .22 micron architecture, the GeForce GPU has a fill rate of 480 Million Pixels per Second. This is significantly more than that of TNT2 Ultra which comes in at 300 Million Pixels per Second and thus results in an increase in frame rate in common 3D games. Therefore, in some part, the GeForce's enhancements over its younger brother is rather astonishing.
On another note, as was common in the days of the TNT2, many manufacturers choose to use NVIDIA's reference design in production of a GeForce card (only the ELSA ERAZOR X and the ASUS V6600 Deluxe reviewed here differ from the reference design). Every time that NVIDIA releases a new processor, they also release a reference design which tells manufacturers how to make a board. While this decreases research and development time for the manufacturers (which is crucial for maintaining the 6 month processor cycle that NVIDIA is on) and also ensures a degree of quality, the use of the reference deign leaves many of the SDR GeForce cards behaving in the same way.