“We’ve got another industry first today,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs told his Macworld Expo Tokyo keynote audience this morning. “Nvidia and Apple are announcing the next generation of graphics processors. The GeForce3 is the most advanced graphics chip ever. This thing is amazing. It’s got 57 million transistors and for specialized graphics computations it can get up to 76 gigaflops. And it is going to be available first on the Mac.”
“The first film Pixar ever made, 15 years ago,” explained Jobs, “was called ‘Luxo, Jr’ We made it using a Cray supercomputer and it took three hours for each frame to compute the graphics. Since there are 24 frames per second, that meant it took more than 75 hours per second to compute the graphics. Well, we have something new today. Let’s see it.”
Real-time special effects David Kirk, chief scientist for Nvidia, joined Jobs on stage for a demonstration of the GeForce3. The GeForce3 was then used to power a real-time interactive version of Luxo, Jr, calculating and rendering environment, character movements, shadows and lighting effects as if it was playing back pre-recorded video
Jobs then introduced “One of the legends in 3D computer graphics and gaming, John Carmack from id software. John is going to give us a worldwide first peek of something he’s working on, running on Mac OS X and the GeForce3.”
Carmack, well-known to gamers for Commander Keen, Doom and Quake, said, “What I’ve got here is a demonstration of our new in-development gaming engine. All of this is actual real game code.” Carmack waxed about light and shadows, specular highlights and the remarkable pixel-level detail possible with the GeForce3, working in real time as it brought to life a rogue’s gallery of realistic characters moving through fantastic scenes.
Triangular noses “It wasn’t too many years ago when we were looking at three triangles for a nose for our characters,” Carmack recalled. “Now we’ve got pores and moles.
“It’s a wonderful time to be in graphics,” Carmack concluded, “and the GeForce3 is the most exciting thing in years. We’re able to do fabulous stuff with it.”
Jobs announced that: “We’re going to offer the GeForce3 on the Power Mac G4 line and as a build to order option for customers and resellers. We’re going to ship it in late March at a cost of £310.”