Sunday, February 18, 2007

Playing Better With Vista: New Graphics Cards At CeBIT

Gaming and video fans are understandably eager for this year's CeBIT: the next generation of graphics cards will be on display at the computer fair in Hanover, ready to support the DirectX 10 standard that is integrated into Windows Vista. The new graphics chips will make even sharper images a reality. Many hardware makers are also redoubling their efforts for more powerful graphics solutions for laptops.

"Graphic chips from the new generation are above all else of interest to gamers," says Carsten Spille, editor at the magazine PC Games Hardware. The introduction of Windows Vista and the new DirectX10 graphics interface are intended to make games much more true-to-life. "Things like light calculations and shading can be depicted much more clearly," says Jens Neuschaefer from graphic chip maker Nvidia.

Improved processing of image data is also being aided by a new version of the "unified shader" architecture, allowing landscapes to be drawn more realistically, says Martin Grothe, a product manager from Elitegroup in Munich. The Taiwanese graphic card maker is using the CeBIT fair to exhibit a model from the Nvidia chip family, the N8800GTX-768MX: as with all cards with current Geforce-8 processors, the card possesses 768 Megabytes of GDDR-3 memory with 1.8 Gigahertz of processing power and a 575 megahertz chip.

Need your pixels to whiz even faster? Overclocked chips are probably the best option: Asus is presenting a water-cooled card at the CeBIT, the EN8800 GTX, which manages to milk roughly 11 per cent more power from the Nvidia chip. That adds up to a 630 Megahertz processor with two gigahertz of effective storage space.

Users can certainly expect new speed records in the competition between Nvidia and AMD-subsidiary ATI: ATI is using the CeBIT to premiere a new series of cards that, according to unofficial press reports, will be called X-2000 and feature a processor named R600. That will make the race for the speed title all the more narrow, Spille says.

"Nvidia has until now been way ahead of the competition-but with the new graphic chip AMD may catch up to them," says Spille. The ATI chip will also support DirectX 10 and offer improved "shader" graphics. It is expected on the market by the end of the first quarter, says ATI spokeswoman Almut Otto from Munich.

Video fans will also be well served by novelties at the CeBIT fair: the new crop of cards is particularly well suited for high- definition video content, Otto says. That means that the cards offer both DVI and HDMI input ports that are adapted for the new HDCP copy protection. These allow HD-DVDs or Blu-Ray media to be played back from a computer using a television or projector.

Hardware makers are also working hard on powerful graphics solutions for laptops.

"Laptops are getting more and more interesting for gamers," says Daniel Moll from Asus. Asus is displaying a laptop called A8Jr at the CeBIT. It contains ATI's new Radeon X2300 graphics chip for improved performance during 3D gaming.

Asus is also presenting the XG Station, an external graphic card adapter for laptops. The card slot allows gamers to equip their laptops with any PCI Express graphics card of choice.

By Tobias Schorman, Dpa
© 2007 DPA


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