Nvidia Quadro4 draws on GeForce power

The pro-level graphics chip arrives on Tuesday, but some people may already own the technology without knowing it

Nvidia will launch the professional counterpart to its GeForce4 graphics chip, Quadro4, on Tuesday, aiming at the market for workstations running high-end 3D CAD/CAM applications. However, some Nvidia fans managed to get their hands on the chips weeks ahead of time.

Quadro4 arrives about two weeks after GeForce4, the consumer version of the chip, and customises GeForce4's architecture for high-end applications. It is also far more expensive than the retail-priced GeForce line. Quadro4 follows on from the Quadro DCC, introduced last autumn.

However, like its predecessor, the Quadro4 hardware is essentially identical to its consumer counterpart, needing only specialised drivers to turn on its high-end functions. Since GeForce4's launch, hobbyist Web sites such as Xbit Labs have been offering instructions on how to turn GeForce4 graphics cards into powerful Quadro4 cards by changing the chip ID.

This is, however, a matter of changing the position of several resistors on the card, which might be all in a day's work for some hardware aficionados, but is not a task to be taken lightly by most buyers, warn experts.

Nvidia is currently the market-leading graphics chips maker, challenged mainly by ATI, with its Radeon line of graphics chips.


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