Nvidia Geforce

GeForce is a brand of graphics processor units (GPUs) designed by Nvidia. As of 2009, there have been eleven iterations of the design. The first GeForce products were discrete GPUs designed for use on add-on graphics boards, intended for the high-margin PC gaming market. Later diversification of the product-line covered all tiers of the PC graphics market, from cost-sensitive motherboard-integrated GPUs to mainstream add-in retail-boards. Most recently, Geforce technology has been introduced into Nvidia’s line of embedded application processors, designed for electronic handhelds and mobile handsets.

With respect to discrete GPUs, found in add-in graphics-boards, Nvidia’s GeForce and ATI’s Radeon GPUs are the only remaining competitors in the high-end market. With the recent announcement of Larrabee, Intel has stated its intention to (eventually) compete in the same high-end GPU market as AMD and NVidia.

Along with its nearest competitor, the AMD (ATI) Radeon, the Geforce architecture is moving toward GPGPU (General Purpose-Graphics Processor Units.) GPGPU is expected to expand GPU-based acceleration beyond the traditional gaming and multimedia software, to content creation software such as image manipulation and video postprocessing, and high-performance computing (data analysis, scientific modeling.)

Name origin

The “GeForce” name originated[not in citation given] from a contest held by Nvidia in early 1999. Called “Name That Chip”, the contest called out to the public to name the successor to the RIVA TNT2 line of graphics boards. There were over 12,000 entries received and 7 winners received a RIVA TNT2 Ultra graphics card as a reward.


GeForce 256
Launched on August 31, 1999, the GeForce 256 (NV10) was the first PC graphics chip with hardware transform, lighting, and shading although 3D games utilizing this feature did not appear until later. Initial GeForce 256 boards shipped with SDR SDRAM memory, and later boards shipped with faster DDR SDRAM memory.

GeForce 2 Series
Launched in April 2000, the first GeForce2 (NV15) was another high-performance graphics chip. Nvidia moved to a twin texture processor per pipeline (4×2) design, doubling texture fillrate per clock compared to GeForce 256. Later, Nvidia released the GeForce2 MX (NV11), which offered performance similar to the GeForce 256 but at a fraction of the cost. The MX was a compelling value in the low/mid-range market segments and was popular with OEM PC manufacturers and users alike.

GeForce 3 Series
Launched in February 2001, the GeForce3 (NV20) introduced DirectX 8.0 programmable pixel shaders to the GeForce family. It had good overall performance and shader support, making it popular with enthusiasts although it never hit the midrange price point. A derivative of the GeForce3, NV2A, was developed for the Microsoft Xbox game console.

GeForce 4 Series
Launched in February 2002, the high-end GeForce4 Ti (NV25) was mostly a refinement to the GeForce3. The biggest advancements included enhancements to anti-aliasing capabilities, an improved memory controller, a second vertex shader, and a manufacturing process size reduction to increase clock speeds. Another “family member,” the budget GeForce4 MX, was based on the GeForce2, with a few additions from the new GeForce4 Ti line. It targeted the value segment of the market and lacked pixel shaders.

GeForce FX Series
Launched in 2003, the GeForce FX (NV30) was a huge change in architecture compared to its predecessors. The GPU was designed not only to support the new Shader Model 2 specification but also to perform well on older DirectX 7 and 8 titles. However, initial models suffered from weak floating point shader performance and excessive heat which required two-slot cooling solutions. Products in this series carry the 5000 model number, as it is the fifth generation of the GeForce, though Nvidia marketed the cards as GeForce FX instead of GeForce 5 to show off “the dawn of cinematic rendering”.

GeForce 6 Series
Launched in April 2004, the GeForce 6 (NV40) added Shader Model 3.0 support to the GeForce family, while correcting the weak floating point shader performance of its predecessor. It also implemented high dynamic range imaging and introduced SLI (Scalable Link Interface) and PureVideo capability.

GeForce 7 Series
The 7th generation GeForce (G70/NV47) was launched in June 2005. The design was a refined version of GeForce 6, with the major improvements being a widened pipeline and an increase in clock speed. The GeForce 7 also offers new transparency supersampling and transparency multisampling anti-aliasing modes (TSAA and TMAA). These new anti-aliasing modes were later enabled for the GeForce 6 series as well.
A modified version of GeForce 7800GTX called the RSX ‘Reality Synthesizer’ is used as the main GPU in the PlayStation 3 from Sony.

GeForce 8 Series
Released on November 8, 2006, the 8th generation GeForce (G80 originally) was the first ever GPU to fully support DirectX 10. Built on a brand new architecture, manufactured in 80 nm, it has a fully unified shader architecture. Originally just the 8800GTX, the GTS was released months into the product line’s life, and it took nearly 6 months for mid-range and OEM/mainstream cards to be integrated into the 8-series. The Die-shrink down to 65 nm and a revision to the G80 design, codenamed G92, were implemented into the 8 series with the 8800GS, the 8800GT, and 8800GTS-512. First released on October 29, 2007, almost one whole year after the initial G80 release.

GeForce 9 Series
The first product was released on February 21, 2008.[3] Not even four months elder than the initial G92 release, all 9-series designs, both currently-out and speculated, are simply revisions to existing late 8-series products. The 9800GX2 uses two G92 GPUs, as used in later 8800 cards, in a dual PCB configuration while still only requiring a single PCI-Express 16x slot. The 9800GX2 utilises two separate 256-bit memory busses, one for each GPU and its respective 512MB of memory, which equates to an overall of 1GB of memory on the card (although the SLI configuration of the chips necessitates mirroring the frame buffer between the two chips, thus effectively having the memory performance of a 256-bit/512MB configuration). The later 9800GTX features a single G92 GPU, 256-bit data bus, and 512MB of GDDR3 memory[4]. Prior to the release, no concrete information was known except officials claiming the next generation products having close to 1 TFLOPS performance while the GPU cores still being manufactured in the 65 nm process, and reports about Nvidia downplaying the significance of DirectX 10.1.[5]

GeForce 100 Series
On March 2009, several sources have reported that nVidia has quietly launched a new series of its flagship GeForce products, designated GeForce 100 Series, which consists of rebadged 9 Series parts.[6][7][8] The only official source of information on GeForce 100 Series at this time is “nVidia GeForce Family” web page and corresponding product pages.[9] According to this web page, GeForce 100 products are not available for individual purchase.

GeForce 200 Series
Based on the GT200 graphics processor consisting of 1.4 billion transistors, the 200 series was launched on 16 June 2008.[10] The next generation of the GeForce series takes the card-naming scheme in a new direction, by replacing the series number (such as 8800 for 8-series cards) with the GTX or GTS suffix (which used to go at the end of card names, denoting their ‘rank’ among other similar models), and then adding model-numbers such as 260 and 280 after that. The series features the new GT200 core on a 65nm.[11] The first products were the GeForce GTX 260 and the more expensive GeForce GTX 280.[12]

GeForce 300 Series
According to reports, the GT300 series will support DirectX 11 and Shader Model 5.0, and introduce GDDR5 memory support to the GeForce family. It is expected to be fabricated on 40 nm process, with a target release at the end of 2009.[13] [14]

Mobile GPUs

Since the GeForce2, Nvidia has produced a number of graphics chipsets for notebook computers under the GeForce Go branding. Most of the features present in the desktop counterparts are present in the mobile ones. However these GPUs do not perform as well as their desktop counterpart. Nvidia later rebranded their mobile chipset for the GeForce 8 based GPUs the GeForce 8M series. In 1st Quarter 2009 the Geforce 200M series were released. However these cards are actually based on the G92 core also found in 8 and 9 series GPUs, as opposed to a true GT200 core, mainly for power consumption reasons.

Product naming scheme

With the release of the GTX 200 series of cards, nVidia cards now use a prefix to designate their category. So far, the GTX, GTS, GT and G prefixes have been announced.[15] The first digit in the name of a card represents its generation, while the second and third digits represent the performance of the card relative to others in the family.

The company followed a naming scheme similar to that shown below until the release of the GTX 2xx series cards.


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