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GeForce 3 Preview Part 1 (Page 2/6)

Posted: February 27, 2001
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy

Read more about the nfiniteFX engine in our programmable pixel/vertex shaders article

Features / Specifications

Nvidia was very quiet about the core and memory clock speed, fill rate, price, and other features the card offers, but the following was extracted (and is subject to change):
  • Estimated Retail Price: "$500" *
  • 200 MHz core clock
  • 466 MHz memory (via 233 MHz DDR)
  • 350 MHz RAMDAC
  • 4 pixels/clock / 800M pixels/sec fill rate
  • .15 micron()
  • 57 million transistors (GF2 had 25 in comparison)
  • 800 billion operations/sec
  • 76 Gigaflops
  • Programmable vertex and pixel shading processors
  • Fully DX8 compliant **
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture
    • Patented crossbar memory controller
    • Only renders visible pixels (built-in "HSR")
    • Compresses data rendering
      • 4:1 compression
      • Lossless
      • Optimizes b/w by compressing data on chip
    • Up to 4x the efficiency of the GeForce 2 memory architecture
* - I've heard $600 from many sources, but one of the many Nvidia marketing/PR reps I spoke with said it would cost around $500 when it first hit stores. Note that this was about the same price that was estimated for the GeForce 2 Ultra, which can already be purchased for under $350. Within six or so months, I assume the GF3 will be in this range or cheaper.
** - It is fully DirectX8 compliant (as the card was developed alongside DirectX8, thanks to Nvidia's Xbox deal with Microsoft) Except for volumetric textures, which the card DOES support, according to the engineers. It was simply disabled for shipping. Maybe we can find a tweak to fix this down the road? :)

Keep in mind folks, it's not only about clock speed. Thanks to the massive refinements to the memory system, improved feature set, and lower micron, this card hauls.

It looks like a GeForce 2 Ultra, doesn't it? No smartass, it's a GeForce 3!

A Quick Blurb on the Price

Why would Nvidia ask such a high price for this card? Well you've got to consider a few things. Other than the fact that the price will drop very quickly once it hits the market, the card is priced reasonably well. For one, you're getting the first fully DirectX8 compliant video card, that simply put, rocks. Nvidia explained to us that the profit margin is quite narrow for a new chip. There are several reasons for this, but the primary reason is the .15 micron process.

Since it's a new thing using a .15 micron process for gaming video cards, TSMC (the company that actually makes the chips in a big expensive fabrication plant) charges Nvidia an arm and a leg for the chips. Not only that, but a new chip tends to yield more defects than a well established chip and process -- don't worry, consumers don't see these defects. Out of 1000 or so die on a wafer, it's not uncommon for more than half of the chips to be thrown out in early batches. It's definitely a big investment. Not only is the chip expensive, but the memory costs a ton of money, as well. The high-speed DDR RAM alone contributes greatly to the cost of the card.

You know why it'll be expensive, and you know when it will be cheap, so let's move on.

This doggy demonstrated real-time hair/fur. It was
awesome. Unfortunately, the pic sucks. Sorry.

A better screenshot. Anisotropic lighting with the
vertex shaders make real-time hair a possibility.

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