Graphic Cards
Issue: Volume: 27 Issue: 6 (June 2004)

Graphic Cards

Perhaps no other technologies advance at the same rapid rate as computer processors and the graphics accelerators that harness their power. For more on any of the companies or products presented, visit cgw or the manufacturers' Web sites directly. And visit to learn about our Next-Generation Graphics Technology Webcasts.

Matrox Graphics' latest release is the Parhelia PCI 256mb graphics card, offering support for video and composite I/O, as well as multi-board configurations. Priced at $699, the graphics accelerator sports 256mb of DDR memory and a PCI-X interface designed for 33mhz and 66mhz buses. Its multi-display technologies enable the card to power 9.2-megapixel panels at 3840x2400 through the implementation of dual 400mhz RAMDACs. Equipped with dual-DVI and dual-display plus TV output functionality, this new board can drive dual 1600x1200 analog outputs and a video monitor via a single chip.

Matrox Graphics;

Without uttering a word, the digital spokeswoman for Nvidia's GeForce 6800 Ultra, Nalu the Mermaid, speaks volumes about revolutionary Nalu, the Hawaiian word for wave, is an impressive creature who demonstrates Nvidia's latest technology. Her skin is illuminated by light refracted through the water's surface; her body and hair cast shadows on her form as she swims; and her hair is simulated in real time and lit by a deep shadow technique. Render-to-texture capabilities ensure that her silhouette blocks lighting filtering down through the water, whereas a detailed scale shader produces bump-map and bio-luminescence. The first in the new GeForce 6 Series of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), the 6800 Ultra is reportedly the first GPU to support Shader Model 3.0, a key feature of Microsoft's DirectX 9.0. The GeForce 6800 Ultra offers compatibility with Nvidia's ForceWare software with the Nvidia Unified Driver Architecture (UDA), a 256-bit graphics core and memory interface, a 16-pipe design, and 400mhz RAMDACs.


ATI Technologies introduced a unique pairing: the Radeon X800 Visual Processing Unit (VPU) and Ruby, a digital character developed to demonstrate the new card's functionality. Appearing in The Doublecross on ATI's Web site, Ruby was born with the help of RhinoFX, a design firm with vast experience in both film and television; designers at ATI, who created shaders and other elements for Ruby; and Alias's Maya.

Running in real time on the X800, the Ruby EXE.file illustrates how the Radeon X800 contributes to a higher-performance, immersive gaming experience, dubbed High-Definition Gaming by ATI. The Radeon X800 XT takes advantage of 16 parallel pixel pipes and six vertex pipes to process more than 8 billion pixels and nearly 800 million vertices per second.

ATI's Radeon X800 is offered in the XT Platinum Edition with a 1.12ghz data rate GDDR3 memory, 16 pixel pipes, and a 256-bit memory interface for $499, and the X800 Pro, having a $399 price tag, a 12-pipe pixel processing engine, a 256-bit memory interface, and GDDR3 memory with a 900mhz data rate.

ATI Technologies;

3Dlabs has unleashed its Wildcat Realizm graphics technology. The new graphics architecture combines a next-generation Visual Processing Unit (VPU) and a Vertex/ Scalability Unit (VSU) to enable a new family of graphics accelerators ranging from a single-VPU AGP 8x solution to a dual-VPU configuration that takes advantage of PCI Express. Keep an eye on Wildcat Realizm, which has been designed to boost graphics productivity in the DCC and visualization communities. The new technology should go a long way in accelerating today's shader programs written in such high-level shading languages as OpenGL and Microsoft DirectX 9.0.