The Latest and Greatest Graphics Cards

NVIDIA and ATI recently announced their next-generation graphic chips, the NV40 and the R420, respectively. Both are remarkable because they offer two times the power as the previous generation. According to the benchmarks, the ATI R420 holds a slight edge. Both chips will take advantage of the new PCI Express interface, the connection bridge that will eventually replace PCI, PCI-X and AGP.

Both companies typically refresh their products around November for the holiday shopping season, and then come out with their next-generation products in the spring. While the new chips are absolutely amazing, each generation gets closer and closer to graphics that look like they are right out of a Pixar movie. This will likely happen next year or soon thereafter. Already the chips can handle HDTV, large screens with dense amounts of pixels, and more than one display at a time.

By 2010, a typical computer will come with two large flat screen displays and a graphics card that can handle both while producing game images close to reality in their realism. These future graphics engines will also support the wallscreens that will be out by then. These graphic chips will have around 2 billion transistors (up from the 130 million or so in the current generation) and run at speeds measured in multiple gigahertz (up from today’s 500 MHz). This is all the more amazing when you realize that 2010 is less than six years away.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (, on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).