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NVIDIA Goes On a GPU Blitz

Chipmaker NVIDIA unleashed a hail storm of new graphics processors this week designed to take advantage of the next wave of visual display needs from mobile screens to 64-bit computing.

The Santa Clara-based company announced its NVIDIA GoForce 2150, a media processor for mobile phones with integrated digital cameras; its new NVIDIA nForce3 for 64-bit AMD processors; and NVIDIA ForceWare, a suite of software tools that function with all operating systems, including Microsoft and Linux.

"People around the world have embraced digital media with a passion, whether they are playing online games, editing videos, or exchanging photos on cell phones," NVIDIA president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said at the Computex 2003 gathering in Taipei, Taiwan. "NVIDIA's vision for the 'ultimate' digital media experience is the intersection of cinematic-quality graphics, seamless connectivity, and reliable out-of-the-box functionality. Our goal is to provide the technology and products that make the networked digital media experience intense, realistic, and compelling."

Huang also said he is strongly committed to continuing to build strong relationships with top -tier players.

"Working with leading players such as AMD, Intel, and Microsoft is a cornerstone of our strategy," Huang said. "For example, we recently announced support for the PCI Express Architecture endorsed by Intel, an initiative that will dramatically improve multimedia graphics performance."

The company said despite losing its Xbox contract with Microsoft , it has scored a deal to power the Redmond, Wash.-based giant's Windows XP Media Center Edition PC with its GeForce FX graphics processing units and NVIDIA ForceWare multimedia software. NVIDIA also said it is working on other Microsoft initiatives, including the evolution of Microsoft DirectX.

Jumping quickly on the camera phone craze, NVIDIA's GoForce 2150 processor comes with 1.3 megapixel camera support and features an enhanced camera interface and JPEG compression engine at 1.3 megapixel resolutions. Other features include a 64-bit graphics processing engine, video processing engine, embedded memory for LCD frame buffer, LCD controller, and flexible CPU interface.

The chips are pin compatible with the earlier MQ2100, from MediaQ, which the company recently acquired back in August, so OEMs with existing MQ2100-based designs can quickly upgrade. Samples of the NVIDIA GoForce 2150 are available to OEMs immediately; volume production is expected to begin in Q4 2003.

"Camera phones are the fastest growing segments in the cellular handset market, with sales approaching 50 million units worldwide, as manufacturers are turning to high-resolution megapixel cameras to differentiate their handset designs," said Dr. Jon Peddie, president of Tiburon-based Jon Peddie Research, a multimedia and graphics research firm.

Looking to extend its relationship with AMD , NVIDIA said its nForce3 chip is for PCs, motherboards, and notebooks that support for both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. The single chip system includes HyperTransport for improved internal data throughput, and AGP 8X for connection to the latest NVIDIA GeForce FX graphics solutions.

To address its growing number of developers, NVIDIA also unleashed ForceWare. The developer's tool box includes new drivers and compilers; desktop management software; system management software; and new multimedia software. Based on a new Unified Driver Architecture (UDA), the company said the environment offers forward-and-backward hardware and software compatibility for NVIDIA's complete line of desktop, workstation, platform, mobile, and multimedia products.

"With the introduction of ForceWare, NVIDIA is expanding its technology leadership into the software world," said NVIDIA director of software product management Ujesh Desai. "By delivering industry-leading features, innovative new features, and a unified driver architecture for all of our product lines, end users are able to achieve higher levels of productivity and functionality from their NVIDIA-based systems."

The software is scheduled for download availability on the NVIDIA.com in October.