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home : reviews : GeForce 256 Preview

Joe Glass
August 31, 1999

GeForce 256 Preview
NVIDIA ups the standard again..


So you've read about all the rumors floating around the net about NVIDIA's NV10 chipset for months now. Everyone is wondering - "What's the next big video card from NVIDIA? When is it coming out, and more importantly, how will it benefit me in my machine?" To be quite blunt, the next "big thing" is putting it mildly. The NV10 is not just the next iteration in NVIDIA's line up.. It literally raises the bar and sets the standard on what people should think about 3d acceleration on PC's. Every technology we have seen such as multitexturing, bump, light, and environment maps, and anti-aliasing have improved visual fidelity and realism in 3d graphics. But, it all seems minor when compared to visually stunning pre-rendered graphics like raytracing. We have wished at some point that realtime 3d graphics with pre-rendered visual quality would be the holy grail. The NV10 is our messiah.

The NV10 internal codename for the chipset is now officially called the "GeForce 256" This code name is derived from three things. One, the "Ge" prefix is short for geometry processing. Force lends to the raw processing power of the card. And "256" represents the amount of bits the chip processes per clock. It's no doubt, the name really fits the chipset well.

The abbreviation "CPU" is a very familiar term that people use to describe a computer's central processing unit. It's the "brain" of every computer and it plays the most important role of all the chips within a computer. It's such a common term that NVIDIA has decided that a graphics chip should have a term just like it. It's called a "GPU" - short for graphics processing unit. You might say, "Wait a minute! Aren't all graphics chipsets GPUs?" It matters on what a GPU should have. NVIDIA has defined the GPU with the following criteria:

  • It's more complex than a CPU
  • Transform, Lighting, Triangle Setup, and Rendering
  • 15 million polygons per second
  • 256bit rendering engine
  • 480 megapixels per second

"Hold up, don't those requirements match with the GeForce 256? That's biased!" Yes, it is. But, think about it. NVIDIA wants to be the first to set the standard of what people should think about a graphics chipset. A GPU is a graphics chip that is so powerfull in its capabilities that it deserves to have its own "catch name" like a CPU. If other companies like S3, 3dfx, and ATI want to call their chipsets a GPU, they have to meet or beat the requirements set by the NVIDIA GeForce 256. If you think about it, we "the consumers" win because the standard for graphics chipsets has been effectively raised.

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