GeForce4 specs leak online

Details show that the next-generation graphics cards will heat up the gaming arena with souped-up processing and memory speeds

A computer products distributor has listed a range of graphics cards based on Nvidia's GeForce4 GPU (graphics processing unit), providing the most solid information yet on Nvidia's plans.

GeForce4, code-named NV-25, is to be released next month, as previously reported by ZDNet UK. The chip will be GeForce's first major redesign since the NV-20, launched last February, under the name GeForce3.

Nvidia sped up the GeForce3 line with release of the Titanium range in October.

GeForce 4 is expected to launch on 5 February. The details were leaked when Morex, a French distributor, listed GeForce4-based graphics cards from Abit and Leadtek for February, and they show that when GeForce 4 does arrive, even the lowest-cost cards will be a significant speed boost for gamers and other graphics-intensive users.

The site listed two cards, an Abit GeForce4 MX-440 and a Leadtek card with the same name. Both are listed as sporting a 275MHz graphics processor and 64MB of double data rate (DDR) memory. The Abit card lists the memory as running at 250MHz, while the Leadtek memory speed is 200MHz.

The MX line is Nvidia's lower-cost line, with the Titanium (Ti) cards aimed at high-end users. The fastest current GeForce cards, the GeForce Ti 500 line, feature a 240MHz GPU and 250MHz DDR memory.

Nvidia's chief rival, ATI, is said to be preparing a counter-attack with a card that supports Microsoft's DirectX 9 technology. The GeForce cards support DirectX 8.

DirectX is Microsoft's application programming interface (API) for gaming, and the upcoming DirectX 9 is to support improved shading, speed optimisations and greater colour depth.

Information on the upcoming cards has steadily leaked out from fan sites on the Web. The MX line is likely to include three models, the 460, the 440 and the 420, with a Ti 4600 and a Ti 4400 also appearing, according to reports. The Ti moniker refers to Titanium, the name that Nvidia coined in 2001 to refer to its high-end versions of a particular graphics processor line.

The MX 460 core is said to run at 300MHz, with DDR SDRAM at 275MHz. Meanwhile the MX 440 will include a 275MHz GPU and 200MHz DDR memory, and the MX 420 will use a 250MHz core and 166MHz memory, according to reports. (All use DDR memory, which effectively doubles the memory speed.)

The Ti 4600 is to support 8x AGP, with a 300MHz core and 350MHz memory, while the 4400 supports 4x AGP, with a 275MHz core and 300MHz memory, reports said. Both cards include 128MB of DDR SDRAM. AGP is a bus included in many newer PCs which can be accelerated by the graphics card.

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To find out more about the computers and hardware that these chips are being used in, see ZDNet UK's Hardware News Section.

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