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Apple gets Nvidia GeForce 3 first

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Updated Nvidia's affection for Apple is clearly deeper than we previously thought. How else to judge the company's decision to give its next-generation graphics chip, the GeForce 3, to the Mac maker first.

That at least is what Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced last night/this morning in Tokyo, during his MacWorld Expo keynote.

"We've been working very closely with Nvidia and have developed a great relationship with them," Jobs said. The first fruit of the relationship was Mac support in the GeForce 2 MX chip, followed by the GeForce 2 Go. Mac users lamented the fact that Nvidia's top-end chips weren't Mac-compatible - it is supposed to be a performance graphics platform, after all.

The arrival of the GeForce 3 will fix that, but we note that Apple will only be offering it as a build-to-order option on its high-end desktops. And Jobs would only say the chip will be available "soon", but we note the UK AppleStore is offering it already, for an extra £240 ($360) for machines shipping in March. We'd heard separately that the chip is due mid-March, so that sounds about right.

We'd also been told that Nvidia was going to launch the GeForce 3 - aka the NV20 - real soon, possibly as early as next week, so we hope Jobbo hasn't jumped the gun on this one. After all, ATI's 'early' notification of new Macs last summer did so much to sour Apple's relationship with that graphics company. We'd hate for Jobs to piss off Nvidia as so early as stage in their partnership...

Jobs said the GeForce 3's performance would amount to 76 billion floating point operations per second, which is a little less than the 100Gflops we'd heard. The chip supports 250MHz DDR SDRAM, and is clocked at over 250MHz. ®

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