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NVIDIA GeForce 3 Preview
By: Mike Chambers - February 27, 2001

Introducing The GeForce3

It's finally arrived. It's been almost a year since the GeForce2 GTS has been on the market and today NVIDIA will be announcing the GeForce3 for the PC. It also means a spring refresh of their high-end product line. And what a refresh it is as the GeForce3 contains a wealth of new features. If you thought the GeForce256 was revolutionary, then wait until you see what the GeForce3 has to offer.

Programmer extraordinare John Carmack has already provided us with his opinions on the GeForce3. Keep in mind that although Doom3 is still in the early stages of development, the images from the graphics engine are quite stunning. Here's an excerpt following a public demonstration of the Doom3 graphics engine running on the GeForce3 at Macworld 2001.

Doom3 Character Model

Images courtesy of Blue's News

"The short answer is that the GeForce3 is fantastic. I haven't had such an impression of raising the performance bar since the Voodoo 2 came out, and there are a ton of new features for programmers to play with." - John Carmack

Doom3 Character Model

High-Tech Gadgetry

Moving from a .18 to a .15 micron seven layered fabrication process allowed the designers to cram a whopping 57 million transistors on the GeForce3 graphics processor which will ensure future growth of the chipset. With the ability to process 800 billion operations per second, the GeForce3 graphics processing unit is up to 100 times faster in certain operations compared to a central processing unit. It's also able to leap tall buildings in a single bound - for a price.

Chipset Transistor Count - In Millions

With a .15 micron fabrication process, NVIDIA has made a substantial investment into the future. As the next generation of graphics chipsets from NVIDIA should come down in price, it's unfortunate that the GeForce3 will absorb the brunt of the cost. With an approximate yield of 90 chips per fabrication wafer, a rejection rate of 10-20% is not uncommon during the initial production runs of a chip as complex as the GeForce3.

In comparison, the TNT and TNT2 chipsets rejection rate is only around 2-3%. However, NVIDIA has attempted to minimize the number of rejected GeForce3 chips by paying a premium price for high yield wafers. The bottom line is that graphics cards based on the GeForce 3 are going to command a premium price when they debut.

GeForce3 Features

Click to Enlarge - 430K

You Have Questions. We Have Answers.

So what has NVIDIA done with the GeForce3 to make you want to buy one?

  • Does the slogan nfiniteFX Engine excite you? Maybe, maybe not. But it has some of the top game developers such as John Carmack and Epic's Tim Sweeney jumping for joy.

  • What about Lightspeed Memory Architecture? Fascinating name, but how effective is it in alleviating the infamous memory bandwidth bottleneck?

  • High Resolution Antialiasing. Hmm, I though we could already to that. Of course you can, but you might be watching a slideshow instead of getting smooth frame rates.

  • Intangibles? What do you mean by that?

During the remaining pages of this preview we will be covering these exciting new features. Let's move on.

Next Page: A Programmable GPU

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Last Updated on February 27, 2001

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