Nvidia fills some holes by releasing 7300, 7600 GPUs, acquiring Hybrid

San Jose (CA) - At the Game Developers' Conference, Nvidia took the opportunity to announce the rounding out of its portfolio...in a number of key respects. First, it introduced two new 7-series GPUs at the entry level, or what it's calling the "mainstream" tier, including one which enables lower-cost SLI. And on the other end of the business spectrum entirely, the company announced the acquisition of a key producer of graphics development software for embedded systems, including handhelds, signaling Nvidia's emergence in a growing market.

Nvidia's 7600 GS and 7300 LE seek to round out the $129 - $149 price point, the company said today, with a system that supports H.264 encoding for high-definition video at 1080i resolution (1080 vertical lines, interlaced). On the 3D side, both GPUs will support Microsoft's DirectX 9.0C Shader Model 3.0, as well as the newest mouthful of syllables, Vertex Texture Fetch (VTF) for improved shading. What should raise some eyebrows about the 7600 GS, however, is its SLI support, which could make the GS one of the least expensive complementable processors available.

Gigabyte Technology's GeForce 7600 GS card. (Courtesy Gigabyte)

Right away, Gigabyte wasted no time in announcing its PCI-Express-based implementation, with the simple street name GeForce 7600 GS (product code GV-NX76G256D-RH). The company boasts of 256 Mb GDDR2 memory with 128-bit bandwidth and 12 pixel pipelines, in a package whose "silent-pipe heatsink" makes it look more like an oversized MasterLock than a graphics card. Availability is set for April, and pricing has not been released.

Meanwhile, as the demand for 3D graphics development tools for the burgeoning handset market has exploded, especially in Asia and Europe, Nvidia announced it's extending its reach to that market with the acquisition of Finland-based producer Hybrid Graphics. Although Hybrid is technically a software producer, its products emerge in the form of firmware embedded in small systems. This firmware enables the production of OpenGL-compliant graphics, so that game developers and others can develop products for PCs, consoles, and handsets simultaneously, scaling their graphics assets up or down to suit their target platforms. The company will continue to do business under the name Hybrid, as a subsidiary of Nvidia.