Electronic Design

Graphics Engine Brings On The Action With 16 Pipelines

Gaming and other 3D graphics applications need muscle. As each chip generation boosts performance, systems deliver more lifelike images and provide displays with faster responses for more realistic action.

The NV40 graphics processor from Nvidia raises the bar with its superscalar 16-pipeline graphics engine, an on-chip video processor, and support for the forthcoming DX9 shader model 3. Its 256-bit wide graphics memory interface and extended-range rendering capability further enhance performance. The extended-range rendering uses a 32-bit floating-point engine for shading operations and a 16-bit floating-point engine for lighting and other rendering operations.

Yet the high performance comes at a premium. Graphics cards built with the NV40 will require more power than the AGP graphics connector can supply. Such cards will cost between $200 and $400, depending on memory and interface options.

The performance comes from the 16 pipelines in the graphics engine, each of which can perform eight operations per pixel during each cycle. That's double the number of operations of previous Nvidia chips. By doubling the pipelines and the number of operations in each pipe, the chip delivers close to four times the performance of the company's previous best. An included video processor can handle high-definition video processing, and a video encoder lets the chip send video to a TV, VCR, or other video-capture device.

As it has with its previous graphics chips, Nvidia has followed its compatibility, stability, and reliability (CSR) guidelines. The chip is compatible with software drivers written for previous devices, ensuring that system designers encounter minimal system-upgrade issues. The drivers for the NV40 are extensions of drivers developed for previous-generation graphics engines.

Samples are immediately available. For pricing, contact the company.

Nvidia Corp.

See associated figure.

TAGS: Components
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