ATI Out, NVIDIA In? (7/4/00)
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Given that the Mac is a platform with such a long-standing reputation for graphics excellence, we've always found it a wee bit ironic that our options for graphics cards have always been rather limited. Remember when the move from Apple's proprietary NuBus architecture to the industry-standard PCI was supposed to open the floodgates and give us tons more choices from the PC world? Well, eventually we got a few more cards from which to choose, but the selection wasn't exactly overwhelming. And then Apple threw an AGP slot on the G4 motherboard, once again in hopes of bringing Mac users more choice in the graphics arena. What have we seen so far? Exactly zero AGP graphics cards for the Mac, other than the ATI Rage 128 Pro that ships standard with the system.

Now, nowhere does this lack of choice hurt more than in the area of 3D gaming. The Rage 128 Pro is a nice all-around card that may be perfectly suitable for graphic designers who dabble in 3D modelling, but anyone who says that it's better than a high-end 3dfx Voodoo card for playing Unreal Tournament is smoking something. That's why it's so nice that 3dfx has shown some serious support for the Mac platform over the past year, first shipping PCI Voodoo cards that work with freely-downloadable Mac drivers, and eventually shipping products with out-of-the-box Mac support. But when it comes to competition, the more the merrier. Enter NVIDIA.

NVIDIA's frequently at the top of the performance lists (beating out even 3dfx) when it comes to 3D graphics on the PC side of the fence, and there's long been speculation that the company might someday bring its products to the Mac. With the announcement of the new GeForce2 MX graphics chipset, the rumors have finally come true-- sort of. The architecture's listed as being "Mac-compatible," but no actual products for the Mac have yet been announced. So is this a sort of "carrot-on-the-stick" tactic that NVIDIA's using to attract Apple's oh-so-sweet OEM attention? Right now ATI's the company sitting pretty in terms of Mac business, since every single Mac currently produced includes ATI graphics either on the motherboard or in the AGP slot, and rumors are running rampant that NVIDIA wants those numbers instead. And given that ATI's been having business difficulties lately, as reported by MacAddict (not to mention the fact that an Accelerate Your Mac! reader discovered a hidden and password-protected section on NVIDIA's web site at http://www.nvidia.com/apple/ which is listed as "Realm: /marketing/oem"), we can't help but wonder if ATI's being shown the door. Who knows? In the not-too-distant future there may be GeForce chips pushing the pixels in all new Macs...


 
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The above scene was taken from the 7/4/00 episode:

July 4, 2000: Sony drops its patent infringement case against Connectix-- for about eight seconds. Meanwhile, questionable images of Apple's new mouse make the rounds, and several clues hint that ATI may soon be supplanted by NVIDIA as Apple's OEM graphics chip manufacturer...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2392: All-American Lawsuit (7/4/00)   It's Independence Day here in the colonies-- a distinctly American holiday, and so what better way to celebrate the Fourth than to partake of the national pastime? The crack of the gavel, the roar of the jury.....

  • 2393: Function Over Form (7/4/00)   A few years back, Apple was gushing red ink in pulsing arterial spurts, the product line-up included such forgettable entries as the "Boxy And Beige" Power Mac 4400 and the "Doubles As A Hibachi" PowerBook 5300, and the company's future was in the hands of a wild-man visionary known as Gilbert Amelio...

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