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Nvidia to offer GeForce 3-based nForce in 18-24 months

Chipset upgrades will lag discrete graphics parts

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Nvidia will release a version of its nForce chipset - formerly known as Crush - powered by GeForce 3 graphics technology in under two years' time.

Oh, and the company reckons its trademark is safe from UK-based nCipher, which also offers a trademarked product called nForce.

Speaking at the UK introduction of nForce, some hours after we covered the chipset's launch at the Computex show in Taipei (see Nvidia's nForce chipset unwrapped), Nvidia's senior spinmeister, Dan Vivoli, told us that nForce will be equipped with Nvidia's highest performance graphics core some "18-24 months" after said core is offered as a discrete graphics part.

That timeframe could see GeForce 3-based nForce chipsets shipping as early as summer 2002.

The chipset launched today is based on the GeForce 2 GTS core. Graphics functionality is provided by the Integrated Graphics Processor (IGP), which also contains a 128-bit memory controller operating two parallel 64-bit memory buses and what Nvidia calls the Dynamic Adaptive Symmetric Pre-processor. The DSAP pre-fetches data from memory, complementing the host Athlon or Duron's own data pre-fetching system to achieve a 10-30 per cent performance boost, claimed Vivoli.

The Media and Communications Chip provides peripheral (serial, parallel and USB - 1394 was dropped to keep the die-size down, we hear) and network I/O, links to PCI card slots and a DirectX 8 sound system that, in more advanced versions of the part, also supports Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding and on-the-fly encoding.

The parts are fabbed by TSMC at 0.15 micron, Vivoli confirmed. As we predicted, nForce will be available in two "flavours", the 220 and the 420. The 220 supports a single 64-bit DDR memory channel; the 420 supports two, parallel 64-bit DDR memory channels. Both 200MHz and 266MHz DDR SDRAM are supported.

Last week, we noted that data encryption specialist nCipher has already trademarked nForce for its e-commerce accelerator product of the same name. Vivoli said there will be no confusion between Nvidia's product and nCipher's - at least, that's what Nvidia's lawyers reckon. ®

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