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Nvidia unveils GeForce FX 5900

NV35 launched at last

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Nvidia has launched the GeForce FX 5900 family, aka NV35, and will be shown at this week's E3 show, as anticipated.

The 0.13 micron 256-bit 5900 and 5900 Ultra graphics chips sport 256-bit memory buses connected to up to 256MB of DDR 2 SDRAM clocked at 425MHz (for an effective clock speed of 850MHz). The GeForce FX 5800, which the 5900 will replace, had a 128-bit memory bus, capable of delivering 16GBps to the 5900's 27.2GBps. The Ultra version of the chip is clocked at 450MHz, we understand.

The new processors feature version 2.0 of Nvidia's CineFX engine, with updated pixel and vertex shaders. In particular, Nvidia appears to have doubled the number of floating point units in the pixel shader. As before, 128-bit colour is supported, as is 64-bit colour.

The chips can churn out 3.6 billion texels per second. The 5800 could manage four billion, but only 200 million vertices per second - the 5900 can generate 338 million vertices per second. It can process eight pixels per clock cycle and eight textures per clock for a maximum of 16 textures per pixel with a two-cycle rendering pass.

The Intellisample anti-aliasing technology has been updated to Intellisample HCT (High-res Compression Technology). Colour, texture and z-buffer data is compressed more quickly - by 50 per cent, says Nvidia - allowing the processor to work on a much higher resolution picture then resize and resample it to provide a smoother image more quickly than the 5800 could.

New to the platform is UltraShadow, a system that allows stencil volume shadows to be displayed far more efficiently than before. Essentially, developers can define limits to the space into which a shadow may appear, considerably reducing the number of calculations needed to work out where the shadow appears. The chip doesn't spend as much time working out where the shadow won't appear.

Both the 5900 and 5900 Ultra will be available in June from over 60 OEMs and add-in card vendors, said Nvidia. The Ultra part will ship with up to 256MB of DDR 2, while the regular 5900 will ship will support up to 128MB and presumably lower core and memory clock speeds than the Ultra.

That Nvidia is replacing the much-maligned 5800 with the 5900 is clear from the company's web site which relegates the 5800 to a 'related link' hanging off the 5900 page. Both the desktop products and GeForce FX index pages now lack links and any reference to a part already dubbed 'not successful' by Nvidia's CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang. ®

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