NVIDIA GeForce4 - NV17 and NV25 Come to Lifeby Anand Lal Shimpi on February 6, 2002 8:51 AM EST
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We owe quite a bit to the late 3dfx, including some of the very first introductions to the world of true 3D gaming on our PCs. One thing that we most definitely have to "thank" 3dfx for is exposing us to anti-aliasing. After 3dfx demonstrated their VSA-100 architecture running current generation (at the time) games with FSAA enabled, we were spoiled for life. Suddenly we began picking out aliasing in virtually every game we saw, even first person shooters where aliasing wasn't supposed to be that big of a deal since everything was moving so quickly were victim to our obsession with FSAA. Unfortunately, the hardware available back then wasn't powerful enough to allow for FSAA to be enabled on most games. Finally, two years later, are we getting hardware that can run not only the present generation titles but as you'll soon see, the next-generation of games at high resolutions, at high frame rates, with AA enabled.
Going back to that picture of the NV25 core you'll notice that almost 13% of the die is dedicated to what NVIDIA calls their Accuview AA Engine. When you're dealing with a part that's as complex as the NV25, dedicating such a large portion of the die to a single feature must mean that the feature carries great importance in the eyes of the manufacturer. In this case it's clear that NVIDIA's goal is to not only offer AA as an option to everyone, but to make it as much of a standard as 32-bit color depths.
What the Accuview AA engine allows the NV25 core to do is have higher performance AA, even to the point where Quincunx AA can be performed at exactly the same speed as 2X AA.
The new AA engine also allows for a new 4X AA mode only under Direct3D applications called 4XS. The difference between 4X and 4XS is that the latter offers more texture samples per pixel in order to generate a better looking AA image.