The MacWorld expo is traditionally full of surprises, and this year's event in Tokyo is no different. Last night not only saw the official announcement of NVIDIA's GeForce 3, but we also got our first glimpse of id Software's new graphics engine, set to be used in their new Doom game. The new graphics card will be available by the end of March, and will appear first in the G4 PowerMac as a $600 optional extra. This is somewhat less than the rumours yesterday were suggesting, but still rather on the pricey side.
You will certainly get a lot of silicon for your money though - Apple's Steve Jobs described it as "the most advanced graphics chip ever", and called it "a landmark in 3D graphics". With a hefty 57 million transistors on board it's a beast of a chip - that's more than twice as many as the original GeForce, which itself had twice as many transistors as a Pentium III processor. To show just what it is capable of, David Kirk of NVIDIA stepped up on stage to show the audience their interpretation of Luxo Jr, the first computer animated movie made by Pixar (the company behind "Toy Story"). Fifteen years ago it took three days to render each second of footage. Last night NVIDIA showed a faithful recreation of the short film running in real-time on a GeForce 3. It just goes to show how far we've come in recent years.
The show wasn't quite over yet though. Steve Jobs brought out John Carmack of id Software to demonstrate the new Doom, giving us our first peek at their next generation graphics engine. Unfortunately it was all rather dark and over-populated with flashing lights which made it hard to pick out too many details, but it did look rather tasty when you could see what the hell was going on, and the models we saw were ridiculously detailed. John declared that "it's a wonderful time to be in graphics", adding that "the GeForce 3 is the most exciting thing in years that we've had to work with".
All in all an eventful day...