Despite the large rouse around nVidia’s GeForce 6800 and ATi’s Radeon X800, 3DLabs took the courage to release a new chipset under the name P20. As its predecessor the P10, we are expecting the chipset to have some rather interesting technology inside it, and it seems indeed a worthy successor.
The new cards will go under the name Wildcat Realizm. 3DLabs has been one of the heaviest names behind OpenGL’s new HLSL (High Level Shader Language). It seems that we will here find support for functions that seems to be the equivalent of DirectX’s Shader Model 3.0.
The chipset is armed with quite a few new features. One of these is the ability to work with either one or two VPU’s, and it also has a separate processor for vertex shading called VSU. This VSU has its own 128MB GDDR3-memory dedicated purely for geometry calculations, something that otherwise must go through the system bus and be processed somewhere else.
All in all, the wildcat seems to become a monster, with the most extreme configuration being dual VPU’s at 150 million transistors each and a VSU with 130 million transistors. It will be able to handle 512+128MB memory and has the ability to address up to 256 Gigabyte of virtual memory.
Another rather interesting fact is that the Vertex Shader-units are working with 36 bit precision instead of 32 bit as nVidia and ATi has chosen to stop at. The Pixel Shader-precision is 32 bit as nVidias DirectX9 compatible cards. The cards will be available as native PCI-Express, something that will probably be more important for the professional market than the mainstream, atleast initially.
For us more regular consumers, the wildcat is hardly anything one would actually buy, as cards from both nVidia and ATi like the GeForce 6800 and X800 will most probably be faster in games, yet it cannot hurt to unveil its potential, can it?