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Interview with Nvidia
On the G3Force2MX, NV20 & GeForce2GO

Published: 1/23/2001
About a week ago I sent a series of questions to Brian Burke of Nvidia. Last night I received the answers from Nvidia. I've very excited to see Nvidia cards come to the Mac and hope you find this Q&A interesting. Be sure to check out the linked articles below for other Mac Geforce2MX related articles and reviews here.

Questions and Answers:

Mike: Is there any issue with the DVD player and GeForce2 MX? Someone said the reason there are no DVD ROM drives is that the Nvidia drivers don't work well with DVD yet. (But note the high end machine comes with a DVD ROM compatible drive and has a GeForce2MX card standard.)

Nvidia: There are not any issues at all. In fact at MacWorld we were running the Matrix DVD and it looked simply amazing. (And yes the high-end machine comes with a DVD player.)

Mike: How does DVD Player performance compare to the Radeon?

Nvidia: At best DVD performance is subjective, and NVIDIA encourages end users to make their own decisions. Having said that, the DVD playback with the GeForce2 MX is excellent and is more than competitive with our competition's DVD performance.

[Note: The DVD questions were sent before part 2 of our PowerMac G4/533 review here was updated for tests of DVD playback with the GeForce2MX card, which noted no apparent issues and good image quality.-Mike]

Mike: Why should someone choose the Geforce2MX over the Radeon? What features of the GeForce2 MX do you feel are superior to the ATI Radeon?

Nvidia: While we prefer not to compare ourselves to the competition, we believe the NVIDIA GeForce2 MX GPU offers the best combination of performance and features for a product in its class. The GeForce2 MX offers unique features including all the per-pixel lighting features - such as per-pixel bumpmapping - of the NVIDIA shading rasterizer, and Digital Vibrance Control which allows the user to digitally control the brightness and hue of all images for richer color, and brighter, cleaner, more ergonomically pleasing images. Add to this NVIDIA's second-generation transform and lighting engine and the end user receives an amazing visual experience with outstanding performance.

Mike: Is there any chance a dual-head (dual display) version of the GeForce2 MX for the Mac would be available? (dual ADC is not possible for CRT displays I realize, due to power limitations and dual VGA would not likely go over well with Apple so this I think I just answered my own question.) I'm thinking that a dual output model would be a very attractive Cube option.

Nvidia: This is a question that you should address to Apple. NVIDIA is selling them GPUs and they are taking care of producing the boards. The GeForce2 MX GPU does support TwinView, how Apple decides to use the chips is up to them.

Mike: How does the GeForce2 MX perform in 2D and Professional non-gaming Applications? (Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, etc.)

Nvidia: NVIDIA absolutely supports 2D and professional applications. The 2D performance of the GeForce2 MX in the G4 systems is crisp, clear and definitely above par.

Mike: I get many mails from Lightwave 3D 6.5 owners who are very gun-shy after the Voodoo5 of using a non-ATI card. Has the GeForce2MX been tested with Lightwave 3D 6.5?

Nvidia: The GeForce2 MX has been tested with Lightwave 3D 6.5 for the Macintosh and it works great.

Mike: How are the drivers for OS X progressing?

Nvidia: Great! We have a dedicated driver team who work extremely hard. Our Macintosh drivers are based on our Detonator3 technology and they have also been optimized for the Apple graphics and text architecture including support for OpenGL, Quickdraw, Quicktime, and other key Apple technologies.

Mike: With DDR RAM vs SDR, my feeling is the Radeon should be faster at 32bit/higher resolutions in gaming. What has Nvidia seen?

Nvidia: When you say "in gaming" I assume you mean frame rates in Open GL accelerated games such as Quake3? The GeForce2 MX's performance in Quake3 is excellent in all modes and resolutions that are actually playable. (above 30 frames per second) While the DDR-based Radeon does offer slightly higher frame rates at the highest resolutions, these resolutions are beyond the range of many displays, and at unplayable frame rates anyway, and thus not particularly meaningful.

Mike: Will Nvidia be offering the (next generation) NV20 chip based card to Apple?

Nvidia: It's not our policy to discuss future products, but as I said before we do plan to make our future products Mac ready.

Mike: I know that Nvidia is not a manufacturer of retail cards, but do you think there will ever be a retail Nvidia Mac graphics card by any of your licensees?

Nvidia: If an add in card vendor struck a deal with Apple to sell boards for the Mac Market we would be happy to sell them chips.

Mike: Nvidia has been very aggressive about driver updates on the PC. Do you think Nvidia will have more frequent driver updates than previous OEM Apple graphics cards?

Nvidia: We plan to stick to our game plan, which is to bring a technology to the market when it is ready and we can bring the consumer the highest quality offering. This applies to ALL of our technologies including drivers.

Mike: In the past, it's often taken a long time to get a driver incompatibility (appl. or game) fixed on OEM drivers for Macs. Do you think this will be true with the Nvidia cards? (Realizing there's another layer involved with an OEM deal)

Nvidia: This is a pretty speculative question. All I can say is that NVIDIA has an outstanding driver team which works extremely hard. Any issues with incompatibility would be addressed with expediency.

Mike: Does the current shipping OpenGL/drivers for the GeForce2 MX take advantage of the chip's hardware T&L?

Nvidia: Absolutely.

Mike: Is there a listing of applications and games that the Geforce2MX has been tested with?

Nvidia: The GeForce2 MX fully supports Open GL acceleration on the Mac platform. In addition to this we support all Apple Features, including QuickDraw, 3D Rave and Quicktime video playback. We will deliver a complete Macintosh product and will fully support the Macintosh platform, including OS X.

Mike: Do you think there is a chance the GeForce2Go will ever be used in future PowerBooks? What advantages would it have over the ATI M4 or M6?

Nvidia: We don't talk about any unannounced products and it's difficult to speculate on what advantages would be offered. GeForce2 Go on the PC platform offers a tremendous advantage over all currently shipping mobile graphics chips, as it's a complete mobile GPU, offering world-class 3D performance, integrated transform and lighting, per-pixel processing with NSR, digital vibrance control, and advanced power management. GeForce2 Go is in a class by itself when it comes to the best of mobile graphics processors.

Mike: It's been said the Geforce2GO uses more power than the ATI mobility chips - is this true?

Nvidia: GeForce2 Go uses a small portion of the overall power in a high performance notebook system. In typical use it will consume less than one watt. Its' maximum power is similar to that of competing mobile graphics processors (2.8W versus Rage Mobility 128's 2.3W). However, because it is so much faster than competing solutions it spends far less time in high power modes making for an overall lower power solution. And, because GeForce2 Go offloads transform and lighting calculations from the CPU it further conserves power since every calculation done on the GPU consumes far less power than the same calculation done on the CPU.

Other Mac GeForce2MX Related Articles Here:

Apple TIL Docs on GeForce2MX Card:

Nvidia Web Site Links:

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