NVIDIA Launches the World’s First Graphics Processing Unit: GeForce 256
GeForce 256 Features an Integrated Transform Engine, Integrated Lighting Engine and a 256-bit Rendering Engine on a Single Chip
PALM SPRINGS, CA – AUGUST 31, 1999 – In an event that ushers in a new era of interactivity for the PC, NVIDIA™ Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA) unveiled today the GeForce 256™, the world’s first graphics processing unit (GPU).
By delivering an order-of-magnitude increase in geometry processing power, dynamic lighting and real-time environment reflection capabilities, NVIDIA’s GeForce 256 GPU will enable a whole new level of interactive content not previously possible. Developers can now harness the powerful new 3D medium to create rich, dynamic, and lifelike worlds and characters. Additionally, PCs powered by NVIDIA’s GPU will be able to synthesize amazingly realistic environments with objects that behave according to complex physics and intelligent characters with lifelike personality.
The GeForce 256 GPU incorporates many groundbreaking innovations that drive a major discontinuity in the 3D graphics industry, a market already known for its staggering pace of innovation. The new groundbreaking features available on NVIDIA’s GPU include:
- The first 256-bit 3D processor
- The first integrated geometry transform engine
- The first integrated dynamic lighting engine
- The first four-pixel rendering pipeline
- Stunning new Microsoft’s DirectX 7.0 features: cube environment mapping, projective textures and vertex blending
“The GeForce 256 continues NVIDIA’s long tradition of introducing groundbreaking technologies and trend-setting products to the PC market. In 1997, we created the first 128-bit 3D processor, the RIVA 128™. In 1998, we delivered the first dual-pipe processor, the RIVA TNT™. And now, we are introducing the world’s first GPU, the GeForce 256,” stated Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA. “The GPU is a major breakthrough for the industry and will fundamentally transform the 3D medium. It will enable a new generation of amazing interactive content that is alive, imaginative, and captivating. The richness of this new 3D medium will have a profound impact on future of storytelling and will broaden the appeal of 3D far beyond the game enthusiasts.”
“Intel has been working with NVIDIA to shape the future of PC platforms and provide new levels of intelligence and realism in simulations, entertainment and enhanced Internet experiences,” said Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s vice president and general manager of the Desktop Products Group. “The Pentium® III™ processor, when balanced with next-generation GPU architectures like NVIDIA’s, enables dramatically increased levels of lifelike 3D graphics on Intel high-performance desktop platforms.”
The Biggest Thing to Hit 3D Graphics
The GeForce 256 GPU is an immensely complex device with nearly 23 million transistors, more than twice the complexity of the Pentium III microprocessor. And with 50 Gigaflops of floating-point calculation capability dedicated to 3D, equivalent to the performance of a maximum configuration 256-processor Cray T3D, NVIDIA’s GeForce 256 GPU delivers an unprecedented 15 million sustained polygons per second and 480 million pixels per second. GeForce 256 supports up to 128MB of frame buffer memory, AGP 4X with Fast Writes – a unique feature in GeForce 256 – and a 350MHz RAMDAC to drive the most extreme resolutions and color depths, up to 2048 x 1536 @ 75Hz. In addition to DirectX support, the GeForce 256 GPU provides full support for an OpenGL® Installable Client Driver (ICD) for Windows® 2000 and Windows NT®.
“NVIDIA’s GeForce256 GPU heralds a new era of ultra-realistic real-time graphics on standard personal computers,” said Kevin Bachus, group product manager for DirectX at Microsoft Corp. “The combination of broad support for the features exposed by the Direct3D 7.0 API, blazingly fast performance, and consumer-friendly prices will enable software developers to realize their creative visions and deliver exciting new entertainment experiences to Windows users everywhere.”
Add-in card manufacturers developing GeForce 256-based graphics boards include: Creative Labs, ELSA, Guillemot, ASUSTeK, Canopus and Leadtek.