Nvidia seeks to stem GeForce leaks

The hotly anticipated GeForce4 graphics processor will appear on shelves in a week's time, but enthusiasts already know most of the details

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia and its licensees, perhaps the victims of their own success, are trying to stem the flow of leaks about the upcoming GeForce4 graphics processing unit (GPU), but without much success so far.

Over the past few days, anyone who was curious about the as-yet-unreleased chip would have had little difficulty satisfying that curiosity with detailed specifications about the GPU itself and several of the graphics cards based on it.

Following leaks about the chip's launch date (6 February) and its capabilites, a French distributor pre-published information about GeForce4 graphics cards from Abit and Leadtek.

Later on, several hobbyist Web sites published specs and box-photographs of Prolink's Pixelview series of GeForce4 graphics cards. Photographs of other GeForce4 cards have since appeared online.

On Monday the chip shipped in new Power Macs from Apple, but the leaks didn't stop; on Tuesday a press release giving details of Asustek Computer's line-up of GeForce4 graphics cards appeared online.

Nvidia is the leading GPU maker, with ATI as its nearest rival, and gamers in particular are keenly interested in what the company's next moves will be. Several hobbyist sites are devoted specifically to Nvidia news.

None of the companies involved have found the leaks amusing. Much of the information that appeared earlier, including photographs, was later removed at the request of the manufacturers, and journalists who published information -- including ZDNet UK -- were contacted by press officers.

Nvidia and Prolink confirmed to ZDNet UK that the details about their products were accurate, but requested all the same that the information be removed because of the damage it could do to the companies.

Typically, manufacturers keep as tight a lid as possible on news of upcoming products, for fear of hurting sales of existing products. PDA maker Palm famously pre-announced its m500 series of handheld computers, in the process decimating sales of its Palm V line. Apple is notoriously tough on those who publish rumours about its upcoming products.

At the same time, leaked information can help generate free publicity ahead of a launch.

Nvidia declined to comment on the situation. In the past the company has prosecuted those who published internal Nvidia documentation that they obtained illegally, but in the case of Web sites that leak upcoming announcements, the company has been simply requesting that the information be removed.


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