With the release of the GeForce 256 by NVIDIA, we will begin to see a flurry of new choices appear on the horizon. The GeForce256-chip marked a new mile stone in mainstream graphics when it was released in October 1999, because it is the first chip with integrated 'transform and lighting'. The inclusion of 'TnL' enables GeForce to take a lot of geometry-workload off the shoulders of the main system processor and gives the user the chance to enjoy 3D-graphics with a lot more polygons than before, resulting in much more detailed 3D-scenes. Currently, NVIDIA's GeForce256 is clearly the fastest and most advanced 3D-chip available, so that graphics card with this new chip are certainly of very high interest to all hard-core gamers and power users out there. GeForce's integrated 'T&L' is right now hardly used by any game though. Only Quake3 Arena and a few others can take advantage of this new technology right now. NVIDIA has promised that soon there will be a lot of 'T&L-games' available, but until then you won't be able to take too much advantage of GeForce's shiniest new feature.
GeForce256 And Its Video-Memory
Tom's Hardware Guide has reviewed NVIDIA's GeForce256-chip thoroughly in several articles. If you should not be familiar with this chip yet, I'd recommend familiarizing yourself with GeForce with those three articles:
- Full Review NVIDIA's new GeForce256 'GPU'
- GeForce256 and the First T&L-Title
- Over-clocking the GeForce256
After reading the above reviews, you will certainly remember that there is an important issue with GeForce and its local, 'onboard' or 'video-' memory. NVIDIA designed GeForce so that it can either be equipped with normal and well-known SDRAM-memory or with the upcoming DDR (double data rate) memory instead. The latter memory type is basically double as fast as normal SDRAM, which almost doubles GeForce's memory-bandwidth and therefore improves its 3D-performance at true-color and/or high resolutions significantly. Unfortunately there isn't enough DDR-memory available right now, which is why you won't find GeForce-cards from any vendor equipped with this new high-speed memory yet. Please keep this in mind before you go and buy any of the GeForce-cards right now, because it might not take long anymore and DDR-equipped GeForce cards will also become available. Those cards will probably ship for a higher price but they will enable GeForce to show its full 3D-gaming potential.
The Competitors Of GeForce256
I would like to mention two important competitors of NVIDIA's GeForce256-chip.
ATi recently released its dual-Rage128 Pro chip card, called 'Rage Fury MAXX '. This card does not include any integrated 'transform and lighting', which makes it a lot less sophisticated than GeForce. However, Fury MAXX comes with a fill rate that's even a tad higher than GeForce's fill rate, which is why it competes pretty well against GeForce in today's games. The price of Rage Fury MAXX ranges in the same area as the GeForce-cards that are discussed here.
Please find a very detailed preview of ATi's Rage Fury MAXX in comparison to NVIDIA's GeForce256 in the following article:
S3-Diamond is also just about to start shipping their new 'Savage2000 '-chip, which you can find in the new 'Viper II'. This product has a hard time to compete against GeForce's and Rage Fury MAXX's high fill rate, but it includes an integrated 'T&L' and it is a master at handling highly detailed textures, thanks to its texture-compression feature. S3-Diamond's Viper II will be cheaper than the GeForce-cards.
We are currently working on a full review of the Viper II, but we can offer a first look at Savage2000 in the following article: