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Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Nvidia Upgrades Handheld Graphics Line

Nvidia Corp. updated its GoForce 3D chip on Monday, in preparation for the next round of 3G handsets to be shown off in Cannes.

Nvidia's GoForce 3D 4800 is a new iteration of the chip, although the offering's most touted feature is "FotoPack," a hardware compression technology that can triple the compression of a normal JPEG image, increasing the number of images that can be stored on a mobile phone. ADVERTISEMENT

Nvidia is eying the market for multimedia-enabled smartphones, which are riding the wireless backbone of 3G services to assimilate features normally found in wired devices. The recent trend to include small digital cameras in digital phones has benefited Nvidia, as has the interest in portable video and some 3D functions.

The GoForce 4800 is clocked 40 percent or 100 MHz faster than the GoForce 4500, launched last October. However, Nvidia's power-management technology, dubbed "nPower", has been improved enough so that a typical application running first on a GoForce 4500 and then on the 4800 would show no significant increase in power, and thus no drop in battery life, according to Manish Singh, director of marketing for Nvidia's handheld wireless media processors.

FotoPack is a lossy compression algorithm that "looks" at each block of data, compressing it to a target file size. If a block can be compressed within a compression "budget," any remaining file capacity is passed along to a more complex block., Singh said. The 4800 chip supports up to a 3-Mpixel digital camera, with 8X digital zoom.

The chip can also encode and decode VGA-quality video and conduct CIF-quality videoconferencing, Singh said, using 20 Kbytes of embedded memory.

Singh did not provide details of the chip's 3D capabilities; however, the new component can deliver up to six textures simultaneously, he said. In the meantime, however, the company is signing up developers to port games to the GoForce architecture, using a similar strategy to the "The Way It's Meant to Be Played" branding initiative the company has used on its desktop chips. Over 40 GoForce-ported games are coming "soon," including Ideaworks' port of Tomb Raider, Age of Empires from Microsoft Games, and David Chait's Unreal Tournament Mobile.

Handsets using the new chip will be available by the end of the year, Nvidia said.

From ExtremeTech

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