When ATI released their Radeon 9700 Pro, NVIDIA found themselves behind the eight-ball for the first time in recent memory. The Radeon 9700 Pro blew off the barn doors with its high-end performance and next-generation features, and while the NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti line of products remain a best-seller, ATI had managed to leap-frog the competition with a truly innovative and compelling product.
Even before the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro, we knew NVIDIA was hard at work on their NV30 architecture, and that the playing field might be leveled in very short order. The NV30 looked like some serious hardware, and as such, it seemed to be a matter of time until NVIDIA offered up their version of next-gen 3D video hardware. That day has thankfully come to pass, and we can now outline the NV30 architecture, and state that NVIDIA has chosen a new brand name for their new chip: The GeForce FX.
The name is quite a curious choice, as the absence of a numerical rating (as in GeForce2, 3 and 4) does cause your mind to inadvertently wander back in time to GeForce-256 days, but this consideration is secondary to card features and performance. The basic premise behind the GeForce FX technology is one of bridging the gap between film and real-time rendering capabilities. If you've seen any of the computer animated flicks like Monsters Inc., Final Fantasy or Ice Age, then it's pretty easy to visualize what we're referring to. When transitioning this type of visual detail to a graphics processor, it requires a great deal more horsepower and features. .
At least from the NVIDIA point of view, these requirements include advanced programmability, high-precision color, a high-level shading language, and a highly efficient and powerful architecture, and translates into a serious jump in overall GPU power and features. It's here that the GeForce FX makes it case, as the world's most programmable, precise and powerful GPU. Now these are some pretty impressive words, but the GeForce FX does back them up quite nicely.