What is NV30?
Before we talk about when NV30 will arrive and what's held it back, what do we know about NV30? Facing increasing competition from ATI and perceived competition from Matrox, NVIDIA divulged NV30's specifications very early on; even before Parhelia's retail launch.
Publicly there's not much we can tell you about NV30 other than it employs a very similar architecture to ATI's R300, with NVIDIA's usual twists. Support for Pixel Shader 2.0 and Vertex Shader 2.0 is obviously included, as well as the rest of the features that define DirectX 9 compliance including a fully floating point pipeline from start to finish. Remember that NV30 is designed around a 0.13-micron manufacturing process, meaning that there's more room for NVIDIA to include additional features in the chip as well as potentially ramp up clock speeds beyond the R300.
Realistic lighting is one of the more important features that the NV30 class of GPUs offers, enabling the creation of pictures such as this.
We've said this before and it still holds true to date, NV30 is faster than the R300 on paper. The only and major caveat being that ATI is days away from shipping R300 and NV30 has only just taped-out, making any technology or performance advantage the NV30 may have a moot point.
If all goes as planned, NV30 will be a very worthy successor to the GeForce4; but as you can already guess, things haven't been going as planned for a while now.