This month will see the simultaneous launch of next-generation graphics cards from the main industry players 3dfx, ATI and Nvidia.
The GeForce 2 gigatexel shader (GTS) will follow the November introduction of Nvidia's GeForce 256 graphics card and features a smaller 0.18 micron diecast, down from 0.25 micron. The result will be a smaller and cooler chip with power consumption reduced from 15W to 8W.
Core speed has been increased from 120MHz to 200MHz which Nvidia claims boosts the product's performance to that of the GeForce 256 under high resolutions.
The usual players - Creative, Elsa, Absolute and Guillemot - have all signed up to use GeForce 2 technology. But following the sell-off of its graphics card business to Via Technologies last month (CRN, 19 April), S3, whose licenced graphics products were sold under the Diamond brand, will not be releasing a Ge-Force 2-based product.
Nvidia has also signed a $200m (£132m) contract with software giant Microsoft to provide the graphics technology for the vendor's forthcoming games console, X-Box.
3dfx has waited a full year since its last product offerings, the Voodoo 2000 and 3000.
The vendor's latest releases, Voodoo 4000 and 5500, are the only next-generation cards CRN tested that do not feature an on-board graphics processing unit designed to alleviate the strain on a computer's CPU.
3dfx claimed to make up for this with increased memory (64Mb, as opposed to the GeForce 2's 32Mb) but a lack of features on this VSA-100-based chipset and its requirement of an external power source may hinder the card's popularity.
ATI's latest offering, formerly called Rage 6, is officially titled the Radeon 256. The card's specifications fall broadly inline with those of the GeForce 2 GTS. The chip also supports dual-processor operation, and a twin-board Radeon 256 'MAXX' is under development. But KY Ho, chairman of ATI, said that a MAXX product will not ship until the end of the year.
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