We all know that NVIDIA's RIVA 128 is currently the most successful 3D chip on the market, but there was also some criticism about the chip. The one thing that was criticized most of the time is its resTRiction to only 4 MB of local card memory, limiting the maximal 3D resolution to only 960x720 or 800x600 if this special resolution should not be supported. NVIDIA was very busy working on the drivers of the RIVA 128, now offering a pretty fast Windows 95 ICD for OpenGL and an ICD for Windows NT close to its release, hence supporting GLQuake and Quake II. The image quality has also been improved over the last 6 months, giving the latest driver the ability to pass all the 25 important quality tests of 3D Winbench 98 that are required for the 3D Winmark, hence enabling a very high score of almost 700.
The new RIVA 128ZX is supposed to do this all even better. It allows up to 8 MB of local memory, enabling resolutions of up to 1280x1024 in 3D. The 3D image quality will be at the same level as the RIVA 128, which is pretty decent with the new drivers, although it does not reach the high levels of a Voodoo, Voodoo2, Verite 2x00 or i740.
The other new features are the support of 2x AGP mode, which currently is more or less mainly a marketing hype, since the system memory in current systems doesn't allow this feature to make any significant performance difference over 1x mode, but this may change with the upcoming 100 MHz system memory bus. The new RIVA 128ZX will also allow a higher desktop image quality by including a 250 MHz internal RAMDAC, offering highest refresh rates even on high end monitors at resolutions of more than 1280x1024 and TRue color. The signal quality is supposed to be improved by that as well, but it will remain to be seen if cards with the RIVA 128ZX will indeed be the right choice for owners of 20, 21 or even 24 inch monitors. For the ones that like using the video out feature of a 3D accelerator card NVIDIA finally included a TV flicker filter into the RIVA 128ZX, something that seemed to be forgotten in the RIVA128, giving the card manufacturers quite a bit of a headache in the past and was only decently solved by the special card design of Canopus Total3D 128V.
The new 3D Winbench 98 score of the RIVA 128ZX is supposed to be 781, but the press release wouldn't solve the secret of which CPU was used for the test run. We are anyway aware of the questionable significance of a 3D Winbench 98 result by now. All in all is it not more than logical though, that the RIVA 128ZX will score better than the RIVA 128, due to its larger local texture memory, which still can be accessed a lot faster than system memory through AGP or PCI.
NVIDIA has also got good news for the card manufacturers that are suffering under supply problems of the successful NVIDIA chips. So far only SGS Thompson produced NVIDIA graphic chips, hardly able to cover the demand, from now on TSMC will also produce silicon for NVIDIA, who expect to become even more successful than they are currently.
This was my personal excerpt from NVIDIA's new three press releases, but you can of course make a picture yourself too: