Nvidia reveals GeForce3

John Carmack demos Doom III on Nvidia's next-generation graphics chip at Macworld Tokyo. Look inside for the first movie of id's upcoming game.

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Nvidia made a surprise announcement yesterday at Macworld Tokyo, where it revealed that the GeForce3 will be available for Mac desktops in late March at a cost of US$600. The announcement reflects Nvidia's shift to making its chips work across both the PC and Mac platforms, and it further defines Apple's move away from using ATI as its graphics supplier. Confirmation for the PC is expected to follow this early GeForce3 Mac unveiling.

The GeForce3 chip uses a sophisticated new design that Nvidia calls the nfiniteFX Engine. The main advantage of this new architecture is its DirectX 8 programmability, including new vertex and pixel shaders for advanced real-time effects. The GeForce3's programmable nature will make it possible for game developers to customize effects that were previously hard-coded, such as per-pixel reflections or vertex-based joint-skinning for smooth skeletal animation of character models. The chip itself is quite large, made up of 57 million transistors, twice the number in the GeForce2.

Beyond DirectX 8 features, the GeForce3 is designed to break down the existing memory bandwidth bottleneck and implement anti-aliasing at high resolutions. The GeForce3 produces the subpixel samples used to make a smooth anti-aliased image at nearly four times the rate of the GeForce2 Ultra. Nvidia quoted a fill rate for the GeForce3 of 3.2 billion anti-aliased samples per second, compared to the 1 billion pixels per second fill rate for the GeForce2 Ultra. However, samples per second is a significantly different method of measuring fill rate. Note that hardware-based multisampling techniques could inflate this number in a way that makes it difficult to make straight comparisons.

At the end of the Nvidia announcement, John Carmack took the stage and demoed Doom III on a Mac equipped with Mac OS X and a GeForce 3. The Doom III footage shows a number of incredibly detailed character models in action as well as environments that use sophisticated lighting and shadowing techniques. Carmack's long-term commitment to OpenGL means that the new effects were handled by revisions to OpenGL rather than by DirectX 8.

Below you can find a link to the new Doom III footage.

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