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PC Graphics Beyond XBOX - NVIDIA Introduces GeForce4

NV17 - GeForce4 MX Series, Continued

Based on the GeForce2 MX design, GeForce4 MX has an acceptable background, even though it lacks the new vertex and pixel shaders. Fortunately, NVIDIA did several things to make Gefore4 MX more powerful than GeForce2 MX.

  • Based on GeForce2 MX GPU
  • Manufactured in TSMC's .15 µ process
  • Chip clock 250 - 300 MHz
  • Memory clock 166 - 550 MHz
  • Memory bandwidth 2,600 - 8,800 MB/s
  • Accuview Anti Aliasing
  • Light Speed Memory Architecture II, stripped down version of GeForce4 Ti
  • nView
  • VPE

The major advances that GeForce4 MX has over previous GeForce2 MX cards are, of course, the higher chip clock, and then the LMA II with the two-segmented crossbar memory controller (GeForce3 and GeForce4 Ti have 4 segments), which increases available memory bandwidth. Memory bandwidth, or, rather, lack thereof was what used to destroy the performance of previous GeForce2 MX cards. GeForce4 should do better. It remains questionable if the 'Accuview AA' feature is making an awful lot of sense. The specs don't seem to be powerful enough to ensure reasonable frame rates under AA. Let's look into that once we check the benchmarks.

These are the different flavors of GeForce4 MX:

GeForce4 MX460GeForce4 MX440GeForce4 MX420GeForce2 MX400
Chip Clock300 MHz270 MHz250 MHz200 MHz
Memory Clock550 MHz (DDR)400 MHz166 MHz166 MHz
Amount of Memory64 MB64 MB64 MB64 MB
Memory Bandwidth8,800 MB/s6,400 MB/s2,656 MB/s2,656 MB/s
Theoretical Fill Rate600 Mpixel/s540 Mpixel/s500 Mpixel/s400 Mpixel/s
Price$179$149$99$50

The cards come with those predominant features:

  • 6-layer design
  • Usage of 3.8 ns Samsung 4Mx32 high speed memory in micro-BGA package for GeForce4 MX460

VPE - NVIDIA Video Processing Engine

All GeForce4 MX cards are now finally equipped with a decent hardware support for DVD playback. The VPE white paper says that GeForce4 MX will support hardware motion compensation and iDCT, plus all the other hardware features needed for MPEG2-playing and recording. It's nice to finally see that happen, since ATi products have been equipped with this feature already for years.

GeForce4 MX has finally been equipped with a built-in video encoder for video-out. So far, the video output quality of NVIDIA cards was a real pain. The output quality of the new GeForce4 MX should be better, even though our tests did not show any major quality improvement. The output of a notebook S3 Savage IX chip was far better.