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GeForce FX revealed

Due out in February

Power hungry gamers must wait until February before they can get their hands on the latest GeForce FX (a.k.a NV30)-based graphics cards, NVIDIA announced today at a packed press conference.

Billed as "The dawn of cinematic computing", the GeForce FX is the first GPU to be created from the combined teams of NVIDIA and the much-loved 3dfx.

And now for the science bit; the 0.13um GeForce FX clocks in at 500MHz, the DDR2 memory clocks in at 1GHz, while those wizards in the fabs have crammed in 125,000,000 transistors - although we had to leave the press conference before we had time to check that for ourselves.

Just imagine: 200 billion floating point calculations per second. No, we can't either: we didn't get much sleep last night.

For comparison purposes, the shiny GeForce FX is 35 times faster than the RIVA 128, and around twice as fast as GeForce 4 Ti4600, according to Quake 3 and Doom 3 benchmark tests running at 1280x1024x32, where the GeForce FX beat the GeForce 4 Ti4600 by approximately double in the Q3 test and by two and a half times in the Doom 3 test. No comparison data was available to compare it to ATI's Radeon 9700, although it's a fair assumption that it's much quicker - and so it should be, given that it's a more up to date card.

In another quite groovy enhancement to the card, NVIDIA has introduced a Thermal Management System, or "the overclocker's dream", as it was described. An exhaust clipped onto the giant heat sink and GPU fan directs the hot air out of the PC (soon PCs will double up as portable heaters, we're sure), while the card has the ability to sense temperature and act accordingly.

If the PC isn't experiencing "stress", the system will dynamically stop using the fan, making for "a quieter desktop experience", while minimising power draw.

In the amusingly stop-start presentation, there was something for the gamers, with ace Ukrainian FPS Stalker shown off in real time, demonstrating possibly the most stunningly realised outdoor environments we've had the pleasure of ogling. Grass, vegetation, and the skies certainly looked eye-catching, and we'll certainly be paying attention to the progress of this one.

Other graphical tricks were shown off via the 'Dawn' and 'Ogre' demos, the former of which featured a pneumatic female with butterfly wings standing on a log surrounded by colourful foliage. Zooming into the character's skin, hair and wings revealed incredible levels of detail, down to individual skin imperfections - although quite how relevant this is to us gamers will remain unknown for some time, while developers scramble to take advantage of the incredible power available to them. Assuming they do.

In fact, with this being "Moore's law cubed" with graphical power doubling every six months, PC developers have the chance to really show off over the next two years before the launch of the first wave of the "new next gen" consoles.

NVIDIA is planning on its usual family of cards, but will be making further announcements on availability, pricing, and configurations in the coming months, although you can expect to pay top dollar in its launch period. We expect to get our hands on these beauties at some point in January.