Graphics chip maker nVidia will boost the power of its top-of-the-range GeForce3 graphics processor with new versions within the next six weeks, according to sources close to the company.
Several new versions of the GeForce3 graphics processor -- widely regarded as one of the fastest available for mainstream PCs and Apple Macs -- are expected. Alongside a new high-end chip, nVidia will also launch cheaper versions that will be designed to appeal to budget-conscious buyers. Graphics cards based on the GeForce3 typically sell to hard-core gamers who are prepared to pay a premium for the high performance. GeForce3-based graphics cards, such as the Elsa Gladiac 920, cost around £300.
NVidia has not confirmed the names of the new processors, but it is likely to apply the same model it used for the GeForce2. Buyers can expect a wide differential in prices for cards based on the new chips; graphics cards based on the high-end GeForce2 Ultra can still cost up to £270, while those built on the GeForce2 MX 400 can retail for less than £90.
The original GeForce3 launched in February this year, and is overdue for a makeover. After the GeForce2 launched in at the end of April 2000, buyers had to wait just two months for the GeForce2 MX and four months for the GeForce2 Ultra.
The high-end GeForce3 is likely to get extra memory bandwidth over the standard GeForce3, while the low-end models are likely to used single data rate RAM instead of the double data rate RAM based on the higher-spec chips, lowering memory bandwidth but still giving buyers access to the same features.
GeForce3 was the first fully programmable graphics processor, allowing realistic 3D effects such as volumetric and particle-based light, fog, smoke and explosion effects, textured material surfaces through reflective bump mapping and animated water surfaces.
The company declined to comment on the upcoming launch.
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