nV News: Does NVIDIA have any future plans for multiple chip solutions?
Loyd: Multi-chip is one solution, but we don't feel it's a particularly good one. You're doubling the chip count for additional performance, which adds unnecessary cost. Currently, we can get equivalent performance from a single chip, and our performance will scale as memory speeds scale. Personally, I've always thought of it as a rather inelegant solution.
nV News: When can we expect NVIDIA to launch a 3dfx takeover?
Loyd: A better question might be "why would we want to?"
nV News: The NV11 is rumored to be a mobile version of the GeForce GPU. Any validation to this rumor? When can we expect to see notebook computers which use the NV11 chip? How interested is NVIDIA in taking the high end 3D chip laptop market away from ATi?
Loyd: The GeForce2 MX is the "first mainstream GPU". Its performance is about 25% greater than that of the original SDR GeForce, but cards will be much, much cheaper. Under $150. But the performance on this little puppy is nothing short of amazing.
The GeForce2 MX is the first GPU for the mainstream user. It provides GeForce class performance at extremely affordable prices. It's really for corporate users, but it's a dandy little gaming card, too. I've been playing around a bit with a new feature we call Digital Vibrance Control, which is a neat way to tweak visual quality, especially for office environments. Then there's TwinView - multiple monitors on one card, with lots of flexibility in the software. It actually works well with multi-monitor games, like Flight Simulator 2000 and Star Trek: Armada. It's the highest performance graphics processor you'll see in most corporate environments. Consumers will find all the NVIDIA features they love including blazing fast 3D, Transform & Lighting, and HDTV processing.
nV News: What is the situation with AGP 4X on Athlon based systems using a TNT2, GeForce256, or GeForce2 GTS? Current solutions seem to throw the AGP bus back to 2X mode to maintain stability. I know you are working with AMD on this, but will AGP 4X be fully stable on AMD Irongate *AND* Via Apollo Pro based motherboards in the near future?
Loyd: Much depends on what release of the AMD 750 series chipset you're talking about. VIA KX133 systems work great. The Athlon 850 I'm running has AGP 4x turned on and never even hiccups. You do have to have the latest and greatest KX133 AGP drivers?
Later versions of the AMD chipset handled 2x fine, but earlier versions don't do as well. We default to 1x when detecting an AMD chipset board as a safety issue, but you can always hack the registry to try 2x to see if it works -- it will usually work in newer systems.
As an aside, there's some discussion on the net about Apollo Pro stability at high AGP speeds. We've been running Pro 133a systems using Pentium III Coppermine CPUs in full AGP 4x mode, too. Again, you need the latest VIA drivers. You may also need a BIOS update.
nV News: I've always sort of felt that AMD and NVIDIA were related - both were "underdogs" that opened up a huge can o' wup-ass on the market dominators. It's even more eerie that they did it pretty much at the same time (Athlon systems came out roughly the same time the GeForce did). Right now there are minor incompatibilities between the two products. What future relationships do you see between your company and AMD?
Loyd: I haven't had the opportunity to work with AMD, but I know that the relationship is solid. As I said before a large effort is dedicated to working with outside parties to ensure that everything plays well together. Just look at the Thunderbird benchmarks on GeForce2… no incompatibility there :)
nV News: Any guesstimates as to when the public may see GeForce2 boards shipping with 200MHz or faster rated DDR memory?
Loyd: NVIDIA has always pushed the limits of not only the graphics industry; but also the CPU and memory industries. When 200MHz DDR memory is available, I think it is safe to say that NVIDIA implement it...
nV News: What's NVIDIA's marketing policy? NVIDIA sells the chips and the graphics board makers advertise them on their own. I noticed NVIDIA did have a few ads in Computer Gaming World ("My son is a victim of bad graphics/My brother is a victim of bad graphics") - are you planning to continue these small ads, expand your advertising, leave it up to the board makers?
Loyd: NVIDIA will continue to market and brand the company and the "NVIDIA" brand, we got some fun ads and promotions coming up ...so I won't spoil it for you.
nV News: What is the comparative difference between a high end graphics board (say a 3D Labs Oxygen GVX1) and the NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS?
Loyd: Hmm. I think it's more fair to compare Quadro to most of the 3D Labs parts. The GeForce2 GTS doesn't support anti-aliased lines or two-sided lighting, both key features for good CAD performance. Quadro does, and I'm sure you'll see us continue to evolve in that area.
nV News: Why doesn't NVIDIA do a better job explaining what the options in the Detonator drivers are? The pop-up help is too naive and uninformative.
Loyd: I agree. Part of my job is to bang the drum for users, and I do find our control panels to be functional, but not terribly informative. Again, this is an area where we are trying to dedicate resources. In fact, one of my charters here is to improve the "user experience" with software (in other words, easier control panels). We're trying to evolve the control panels to become more useful.
But in the short term, it does sound like good grist for a short white paper, eh? No promises on delivery dates, but I'll start sharpening my pencils.
nV News: On target for August NV20 debut and September release? How fast will it be compared to the GeForce2?
Loyd: You know us... every 6 months... just like clockwork - so we will have something for the fall of 2000.
nV News: How about some free stuff to give to the readers? T-shirts maybe?
Loyd: What kind of free stuff are you looking for? We've got everything - t-shirts, hats, games, etc… We can supply a few goodies for a contest, perhaps.
nV News: Does NVIDIA have a firm commitment to Linux? So far your drivers have been excellent.
Loyd: We have a very solid commitment to Linux. We have guys on the driver team who specialize in it. The latest drivers now have performance parity with our Windows driver -- and are even faster in some cases. We're seriously committed to Linux.
What we can't do is release the source code for the drivers, which is a slightly different question. There's intellectual property in the drivers that belong to other people, and that precludes releasing source. Remember, though, we have just about the best driver writing team in the business, and some of them are quite passionate about Linux, so we'll continue to release drivers that will simply get better. For now if you want to download our latest Linux driver go to:
nV News: Will the the texture banding of the skies and some liquid surfaces in Quake 3 Arena using the texture compression going to be fixed in future updates or is it just a limitation of S3TC?
Loyd: That's strictly a Quake3 art issue. There's an S3TC transparency mode that wasn't used in the Quake3 sky textures, so that's why the banding occurs.
nV News: Will NVIDIA ever incorporate a 256-bit DDRAM memory interface?
Loyd: While I wouldn't preclude anything, the number of pins you'd have to add to any chip for that kind of interface would raise the packaging costs substantially. I think we'll have better solutions coming down the pipe. We're into making cost-effective products that provide endusers with the performance they are looking for.
We would like to thank to Loyd and the PR folks at NVIDIA for taking the time to answer our questions. Maybe we can get some of those t-shirts and hats Loyd mentioned. They should make a nice addition to any wardrobe...
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Loyd Case Q&A: Page One