NVidia has announced the GeForceFX, its 500MHz graphics processor that will render near-movie-quality real-time graphics.

The new boards – based on the GeForceFX chip – feature 1GHz memory speeds thanks to DDR2 memory. The chip, based on an efficient .13-micron process, also features 125 million transistors and eight-pixel pipelines. It supports the AGP 8X specification.

The processor can calculate 375 million programmable vertices per second, 4 billion pixels per second, and 16 billion anti-aliased samples per second. NVidia's GeForce4 Ti 4600 calculates about 136 million vertices per second with a fill rate of about 4.8 billion AA samples/per second.

Boards using the GeForceFX chip won't begin shipping until mid- to late January 2003, according to the company.

NVidia has had to develop a new cooling system for the GeForceFX. FXFlow thermal-management system channels keep the board from overheating by moving warm air directly out of a computer's chassis. Despite the new cooling system, NVidia claims the chip will run silently when performing normal tasks.

The name of the chip: "Symbolizes the fusion of ATI and NVidia," says Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVidia. "The 3dfx acquisition that we made was all about bringing together the finest talent in the world."

The chip supports a new software architecture - based on NVidia's CineFX architecture and supporting NVidia's graphics programming language Cg. Company executives say the new graphics-processing unit will let game developers create graphics that rival those in motion pictures. It does this through the use of pixel and vertex shaders. The company has also simplified the process of programming with these technologies, it claims.

The product also implements OpenGL support, and offers support for NVidia's Unified Driver Architecture. These two features carve a path for the use of the chip with computer platforms – including Mac OS X.

Additional features include: 128-bit colour with 32-bit floating-point components for red, green, blue and alpha values; and Intellisample, a new form of anti-aliasing technology that provides gamma-adjusted anti-aliasing and adaptive anisotropic filtering.

"I‘ve been through a lot of product launches, but this one gives me goose bumps," says Dan Vivoli, senior vice president of marketing at NVidia. "To be able to get this level of realism and deliver it in real time is just staggering."

NVidia showed numerous computers using the GeForceFX, including demonstrations such as an emoting fairy and a dancing ogre. The pixel instruction capabilities of the new chip, which determine how many effects it can pack into an individual pixel, allow for life-like hair and skin, as well as advanced lighting effects.

In one demo, the paint on a 1950s mint-condition pickup was rapidly aged 50 years, until the vehicle finally rusted away.