Nvidia NV38 debut to push back NV40?

Graphics card makers suggest as much

That graphics card manufacturers are going to be showing off products based on Nvidia's upcoming NV36 and NV38 processors late next month is a sign that they aren't going to release boards based on the next-generation NV40 part any time soon.

So speculates Xbit Labs. It believes board makers will demo NV38 and NV36-based boards at Computex Taipei, rescheduled from last June to the penultimate week of September after the SARS outbreak.

The chips' official launch will come in October and November - roughly six months after the GeForce FX 5600 and 5900 were launched - and in time for the Thanksgiving and Christmas gift-buying period.

The NV38 is believed to succeed the 5900, the NV36 the 5600. Third-party roadmaps we saw recently didn't mention the NV38, but listed the NV40, Nvidia's first high-end chip to offer PCI Express support, as the follow-up to the GeForce FX 5900 - aka the NV35 - with a second-half of 2003 release window.

Such broad timeframes shouldn't be taken too seriously, and it's entirely possible Nvidia has shunted the NV40 back to make the most of the AGP 8x market before PCI Express starts to come in and tempt hard-core gamers and graphics professionals. Essentially, NV38 appears be a higher-clockable version of the NV35, and would fill the gap before the arrival of the NV40 nicely.

Whatever its precise spec., the availability timeframe of the NV38 means that card makers are unlikely to want to follow it with another high-end chip, the NV40, as soon as older roadmaps suggest it will become available. That, plus Nvidia's preferred six-month upgrade cycle, suggests to Xbit Labs that NV40-based products won't appear for some time yet, and possibly around the time everyone was expected the PCI Express-only NV45.

Again, the timetables are broad, and leave Nvidia plenty of room to adjust release schedules the better to deal with what ATI offers in the meantime and market trends such as the uptake (or not) of PCI Express. ®