News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

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.