nVidia

nVidia is a graphics card manufacturer for the IBM PC and its compatibles.

 

RIVA 128

Launched: 1997
Chipset: NV3
Bus: AGP 2x
Memory: 4 MB (128-bit)
Ports: 15-pin DSUB
DirectX: 5.0
OpenGL: 1.0
Price: ?

Built on the 350 nm process, and based on the NV3 graphics processor, the card supports DirectX 5.0. The NV3 graphics processor is a relatively small chip with a die area of only 90 mm² and 4 million transistors. It features 1 pixel shaders and 0 vertex shaders, 1 texture mapping units and 1 ROPs. Due to the lack of unified shaders you will not be able to run recent games at all (which require unified shader/DX10+ support). NVIDIA has placed 4 MB SDR memory on the card, which are connected using a 128-bit memory interface. The GPU is operating at a frequency of 100 MHz, memory is running at 100 MHz. Being a single-slot card, the NVIDIA Riva 128 does not require any additional power connector, its power draw is rated at 4 W maximum. Display outputs include: 1x VGA, 1x DB13W3. Riva 128 is connected to the rest of the system using an AGP 2x interface.

Rough theoretical performance of this card is 100 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 100 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory bandwidth is approximately 1.6 GB/s.

The RIVA 128 was nVidia's first Direct3D-compatible GPU. RIVA stands for Real-time Interactive Video and
An
imation accelerator, and the "128" in the name means this chip has 128-bit memory bus width. It has a 206 MHz RAMDAC and supports DDC2 and VBE3. It has all the hardware features for DirectX 5 and also has good OpenGL compatibility. It renders only at 16-bit colour depth. 3D performance is on par with the original 3Dfx Voodoo 1.

OEM'd by Dell (they took the STB Systems rebranded card). This card was also sold as:


The RIVA 128 went head-to-head against the Voodoo 1.
Beware of text fuzziness in DOS on all early nVidia cards up to and including the RIVA 128 - this was due to poor quality RAMDACS. Despite this, it's highly recommended for DOS (no scrolling bugs, mode x works fine and the BIOS is VBE3.0), and in Win98SE can run at 1280x1024. Not sure about 3.1 drivers.

 

RIVA 128ZX

Launched: 1998
Chipset: NV3
Bus: AGP 1x/2x
Memory: 8 MB
Ports: 15-pin DSUB
DirectX: 5.0
OpenGL: 1.0
Price: ?

The RIVA 128ZX was an upgraded version of the RIVA 128, receiving a 250 MHz RAMDAC and adding support for up to 8 MB SGRAM. Higher resolutions are also supported.

The Riva 128ZX was a graphics card by NVIDIA, launched in February 1998. Built on the 350 nm process, and based on the NV3 graphics processor, in its RIVA 128ZX variant, the card supports DirectX 5.0. The NV3 graphics processor is a relatively small chip with a die area of only 90 mm² and 4 million transistors. It features 1 pixel shaders and 0 vertex shaders, 1 texture mapping units and 1 ROPs. Due to the lack of unified shaders you will not be able to run recent games at all (which require unified shader/DX10+ support). NVIDIA has placed 8 MB SDR memory on the card, which are connected using a 128-bit memory interface. The GPU is operating at a frequency of 100 MHz, memory is running at 100 MHz.
Being a single-slot card, the NVIDIA Riva 128ZX does not require any additional power connector, its power draw is not exactly known. Display outputs include: 1x VGA. Riva 128ZX is connected to the rest of the system using an AGP 2x interface.

Rough theoretical performance of this card is 100 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 100 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory bandwidth is approximately 1.6 GB/s.

This card was OEM'd to Dell who used the STB Systems rebranded card. Also sold as:

Beware of text fuzziness in DOS on all early nVidia cards up to and including the RIVA 128 - poor quality RAMDACS. Despite this, it's highly recommended for DOS (no scrolling bugs, mode x works fine and the BIOS is VBE3.0),

Also be aware that you cannot disable VSYNC in the nVidia drivers - this can therefore give the impression the card is slower when you run performance timings against some of the competition such as the 3dfx Voodoo. If a game supports the disabling of VSYNC, choose this option.

RIVA TNT

Launched: 1998
Chipset: NV4
Bus: AGP 2x
Core Clock Speed: 90 MHz
Memory: 16 MB
Memory Speed: 110 MHz
Ports: 15-pin DSUB
Price: ?

RIVA TNT was nVidia's fourth graphics chip design (hence the NV4 chipset name) - it was Direct3D 6-compliant with much better image quality and performance compared to its predecessors.

"TNT" stands for TwiN Texel, to point out that the TNT has two rendering pipelines that can work in parallel, equivalent to the two texelfx2 units in the 3Dfx Voodoo 2 chipset. Each pipeline can produce 1 pixel per clock cycle. Until now, only Voodoo (on the Quantum 3D boards only) and Voodoo 2 could do this parallel rendering - now, TNT was the next chip to provide this important feature. ATI's Rage 128 and 3Dlab's Permedia 3 would be hot on their heels.

The Riva TNT was a graphics card by NVIDIA, launched in March 1998. Built on the 350 nm process, and based on the NV4 graphics processor, the card supports DirectX 5.0. The NV4 graphics processor is a relatively small chip with a die area of only 90 mm² and 7 million transistors. It features 2 pixel shaders and 0 vertex shaders, 2 texture mapping units and 2 ROPs. Due to the lack of unified shaders you will not be able to run recent games at all (which require unified shader/DX10+ support). NVIDIA has placed 16 MB SDR memory on the card, which are connected using a 128-bit memory interface. The GPU is operating at a frequency of 90 MHz, memory is running at 110 MHz.
Being a single-slot card, the NVIDIA Riva TNT does not require any additional power connector, its power draw is not exactly known. Display outputs include: 1x VGA. Riva TNT is connected to the rest of the system using an AGP 2x interface.

Rough theoretical performance of this card is 180 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 180 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory bandwidth is approximately 1.76 GB/s.

The RIVA TNT has got an excellent 2D engine, producing a great picture quality.

TNT was supposed to be the "Voodoo 2" killer, and whilst that wasn't quite the reality they'd hoped for, the TNT did get a number of benefits including the 2x AGP interface, the ability to display games at 1600 x 1200 resolution (Voodoo 2 was limited to 800 x 600 in single-card form, and 1024 x 768 in SLI mode). TNT also got a 24-bit Z-buffer and 32-bit colour rendering. Expect very good 3D performance (close to Voodoo 2), excellent image quality, excellent 2D performance and quality.

Key features:

  • 0.35 micron technology (8 million transistors)
  • 180 Mtexel/s texel fillrate
  • 6M triangles/s
  • 250 MB RAMDAC
  • 90 MHz core clock
  • Maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200
  • 24-bit Z-buffer
  • 32-bit colour rendering

The RIVA TNT was also sold as:

 

RIVA TNT2

Launched: 1999
Chipset: NV5
Bus: AGP 4x
Core Clock Speed: 125 MHz
Memory: 16 MB, 32 MB (standard) or 64 MB - all have 128-bit memory bus width
Memory Speed: 150 MHz
Ports: 15-pin DSUB
Price: ?

The TNT2 got nVidia's 5th graphics chip design - NV5. It was largely similar to its predecessor, TNT, but added support for AGP 4x and up to 32 MB of video RAM. Additionally, TNT2 was manufactured using a more advanced smaller process resulting in much higher clock speeds and less heat. By the time TNT2 arrived, 3Dfx was really struggling to keep pace.

nVidia also launched the TNT2 Ultra, which is just an overclocked version of the TNT2. It was one of the fastest cards for that era, and will work with Win3.1x with the native TNT drivers. It also had good DOS and Windows 9x support, apart from DOS games that require UniVBE drivers.

This card was a very popular one to be OEM'd by:

 

 

RIVA TNT2 M64 / VANTA

Launched: 1999
Chipset: NV5 B6
Bus: AGP 4x
Core Clock Speed: 100 MHz (M64), 125 MHz (VANTA)
Memory: 16 MB, 32 MB - all have 64-bit memory bus width
Memory Speed: 125 MHz (M64), 143 MHz (VANTA)
Ports: 15-pin DSUB.
Price: ?


M64 and VANTA were budget versions of the TNT2. The nVidia original of this card was also called the GM1000-32. The "M64" means this card has a 64-bit memory width (as opposed to the TNT2's 128-bit memory width). This results in half the memory access performance. Typically the VANTA cards (also 64-bit memory width) run a 100 MHz core clock frequency as well as memory speed, so are even slower than most M64 cards.

The Riva TNT2 M64 was a graphics card by NVIDIA, launched in October 1999. Built on the 250 nm process, and based on the NV5 B6 graphics processor, in its 64 variant, the card supports DirectX 6.0. The NV5 B6 graphics processor is a relatively small chip with a die area of only 90 mm² and 15 million transistors. It features 2 pixel shaders and 0 vertex shaders, 2 texture mapping units and 2 ROPs. Due to the lack of unified shaders you will not be able to run recent games at all (which require unified shader/DX10+ support). NVIDIA has placed 16 MB SDR memory on the card, which are connected using a 64-bit memory interface. The GPU is operating at a frequency of 125 MHz, memory is running at 143 MHz.
Being a single-slot card, the NVIDIA Riva TNT2 M64 does not require any additional power connector, its power draw is not exactly known. Display outputs include: 1x VGA. Riva TNT2 M64 is connected to the rest of the system using an AGP 4x interface.

Rough theoretical performance of this card is 250 MPixel/s pixel rate, and 250 MTexel/s texture rate. Memory bandwidth is approximately 1.144 GB/s. Typically in real gaming performance, the M64 will outperform the original TNT at lower resolutions (320x200, 640x480 or 800x600) but starts to be on par with TNT performance levels at anything higher, due to having a smaller memory bandwidth. You can overclock an M64 card however, so focus this on the memory clock for best performance gains.

 

Rebranded versions of the M64 were sold as:

 

GeForce 256

Launched: 1999
Bus: AGP 4x
Memory: 32 MB of SDR or DDR RAM.

The initial release of nVidia's game-changing card arrived in October 1999, and it came with SDR RAM manufactured by Samsung. In December of that same year, nVidia upgraded GeForce 256 to have DDR RAM provided by Hyundai or Infinion.

nVidia GeForce 256-based cards include:

  • ASUS AGP-V6600 Deluxe (SDR memory)
  • ASUS AGP-V6800 Deluxe (DDR memory)
  • ELSA GLoriaII Quadro SDR
  • Guillemot (Hercules) 3D Prophet SDR
  • Creative Labs Annihilator CT-6960 (SDR memory)
  • Creative Labs Annihilator CT-6970 (DDR memory)