By the looks of it today, the future holds exciting times for 3D gaming. Realizing the limitations faced with immediate mode renderers, the two major players left in the high performance video card market have begun to shift focus from speed to quality. This represents quite a major deviation from the previous school of thought, where frames per second was king. Indeed, frame rate remains an important aspect of 3D gaming, however card producers are finally reaching a point where the question becomes how much is too much. When the current generation of high performance video cards can play even today's most advanced games at 60+ frames per second at 1600x1200x32, it seems arbitrary to push cards to go faster. Add to this the fact that going much faster requires a whole new approach to rendering and/or the implementation of a new memory technology and it becomes clear why we are seeing a paradigm shift among video card producers; a shift that is allowing frame rate to take a back seat to image quality and realism.

NVIDIA was the first card manufacturers to emphasize image improving features over frame rate with their GeForce3 product. Sure, the GeForce3 is faster than previous NVIDIA products, but the speed gap between the GeForce3 and the previous generation GeForce2 Ultra is not as large as we have seen with other new generation products such as the TNT2 Ultra vs GeForce DDR. As a result of this, focus needed to be shifted away from frame rate and into another aspect of game play, and the release of DX8 and upcoming high-end games gave NVIDIA the perfect opportunity to shift attention to image quality.

The technologies implemented on the GeForce3 to improve image quality have recently become buzz words in the computer world. Techniques such as per-pixel shading and Quincunx antialiasing promise to bring future games running on a GeForce3 superior image quality without any sacrifice in speed (read more about it in our NVIDIA's GeForce3: "NV20" Revealed article). With the GeForce3, NVIDIA seems to be making a statement that there is more to a graphics card than just the maximum amount of frames it can output per second.

Three months after the GeForce3's official launch, today we get a glimpse of how ATI intends to address image quality in their future products. Coined TRUFORM, it can be expected that ATI's "next generation chip" (presumably the Radeon II) will include the technology that could mean drastic improvements in image quality in not only new but also existing games.

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