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Nvidia’s first fabricated graphics processor, the NV1 was released in 1995 and did not even have support for Microsoft's new-fangled DirectX. While it was not widely accepted, many considered it ahead of its time due to the feature-set it supported.


The NV1 was the first chip that Nvidia designed, and was adopted by Diamond Multimedia in the form of their Edge 3D discrete graphics and audio card. The chip itself was accepted from the community with mixed reactions, and sold very few cards before it was abandoned altogether. This was mainly due to Nvidia's choice of support for Quadratic Curved Surfaces in place of pure number-crunching horsepower. If software was written specifically for the architecture, the NV1 could have potentially been capable of many times more than 70,000 TM polygons per second. But a lack of support combined with the advent of DirectX put the final nails in the NV1's proverbial coffin, and that was the end of hardware quadratic curved surfaces.

While the consumer market was not enthusiastic about the chip, this type of fully integrated architecture was very appealing to the console market. SEGA, one of the leaders at the time, was excited about this development, and believed that they could entice Nvidia to partly redesign their next chip to be more suitable for SEGA's next console. It signed a deal with Nvidia (regarding the NV2) in which almost $7 million changed hands, even before the NV1 had been released. Nvidia did not comply with SEGA’s requests to include triangle support in the next-generation chip, and no samples that made it into the lab actually worked. The deal fell through, and PowerVR produced the video processor for the SEGA Dreamcast.

Fast-forward to 2004: Nvidia has just released the first 256-bit 16-pipeline graphics card capable of over a 6.8 billion texal/second fillrate with more than 35GBs/second of onboard memory bandwidth and full support for DirectX 9.0c. ATI isn't far behind, 3Dfx is no more, Id's Doom 3 is reportedly capable of filling up a 512MB frame buffer, and the average gamer's computer can now run Quake 3 at over 300 frames/second. Integration is also the name of the game when it comes to Nvidia's Nforce chipset and AMD's Hammer-based processors. There's no telling what the scene will even remotely resemble in 2013, nine years from now. What will the graphics world have in store? Quad-core GPUs? Ray Tracing? We will just have to wait the better part of a decade to find out.


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