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Nvidia unveils GeForce 7800 GTX

Pushes SLi into the mainstream, too

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Nvidia took the wraps off its GeForce 7800 GTX graphics chip yesterday, as anticipated. The company also launched the second-generation of its SLi multi-card rendering system, pushing the first version down-market in the process, the better to compete with ATI's rival technology, CrossFire.

The new SLi allows two cards to co-operatively render images of up to 2560 x 1600 with 4x anti-aliasing, Nvidia said.

Alongside the latest incarnation of SLi, the 7800 GTX features a new version of PureVideo, Nvidia's video image processing system, which can handle all HD resolutions. The chip also incorporates version 4.0 of its CineFX and Intellisample engines. These bring support for high dynamic range lighting, parallax mapping, transparency supersampling and multisample anti-aliasing, in which the entire image is anti-aliased, not just line edges. CineFX also features an updated programmable shader architecture with a 128-bit floating point core.

As expected, the unit contains 24 pixel processing pipelines, capable of filling up to 10.3bn pixels each second. The 7800 GTX can calculate up to 800m vertices per second.

Nvidia is also touting the 110nm, 302m transistor chip's power advantage over the previous-generation GeForce 6800 Ultra. The single-slot GTX consumes half the power of a single-slot 6800 Ultra yet deliver 2.3 times the "game application throughput" of the dual-slot 6800 Ultra.

The chip talks to GDDR 3 SDRAM across a 256-bit bus with a bandwidth of 38.4GBps.

GeForce 7800 GTX-based cards, such as MSI's NX7800GTX-VT2D256E and PNY's Verto GeForce 7800 GTX are availabile immediately, as are systems incorporating the boards based on the new chip.

Separately, Nvidia said it is moving its original SLi spec down into the mainstream market, courtesy of cheaper nForce 4 motherboards which integrate SLi support, ready to make use of low-cost GeForce 6600-based graphics cards. ®

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