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Nvidia apes ATI to revive mid-1990s AGP feature

Separated at birth: TurboCache and HyperMemory

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Nvidia today introduced its first graphics chip with TurboCache - the company's answer to ATI's HyperMemory technology, itself little more than feature taken from the original mid-1990s AGP specification.

Nvidia's new chip is a version of its existing mainstream GeForce 6200 PCI Express chip that incorporates TurboCash. The 110nm part supports DDR SDRAM across a 128-bit memory bus and like other GeForce 6-class GPUs provides DirectX 9 Shader Model 3.0 programmability.

TurboCash allows the GPU to use the host PC's main memory as graphics RAM, sparing the need to connect the chip to local a SDRAM buffers. Like ATI's HyperMemory, TurboCash essentially brings to PCI Express an option provided by the AGP specification. Touted as one of AGP's key strengths over the original PCI bus, the ability to use system RAM was rarely used at the time.

According to Nvidia, the result is a 60 per cent increase in performance as measured using 3DMark03. Interestingly, it doesn't compare the 6200 TC with the regular 6200, but runs it against an ATI Radeon X300 SE, so it's impossible to see what benefit TurboCash provides exactly.

One benefit has nothing to do with benchmarks: makers of entry-level PCs can save money by omitting dedicated VRAM from their designs.

We're not at all sure how that ensures "TurboCache will deliver the award-winning feature set found on current-generation high-end GPUs to the value segment of the PC market", as one Nvidia marketing mouth puts it. TurboCash aside, the 6200 TC has the same feature set as the regular 6200 - or is Nvidia saying TurboCash gives a performance boost to match all the extra pixel pipelines the 6200 lacks? We don't think so...

GeForce 6200 GPUs with TurboCash are shipping now and graphics cards are anticipated to be available from leading add-in card manufacturers and in systems from leading PC OEMs in January 2005. ®

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