Believing that cell phones are the next frontier for 3-D graphics chips, Nvidia Corp. has assigned more than 100 people to its handheld team, including 80 who work with game developers on writing software for their architecture.
"We've made a huge commitment and a huge sacrifice to be a part of this market," said Phil Carmack, vice president and general manager of handheld products for Nvidia (Santa Clara, Calif.).
Nvidia said last week that it plans to roll out a dedicated 3-D graphics chip soon. In February, the company announced the availability of its GoForce 3D core, also aimed at cell phones. In both technologies, the object is to enable cell phone screens to depict a world that looks realistic. "It's about putting very good textures and lighting reflections onto surfaces, and doing it at very low power," said Stuart Bonnema, technical-marketing manager for Nvidia's handheld division.
Nor are Nvidia executives perturbed by the early lukewarm response to Nokia's N-Gage phone, a competing technology that uses software (rather than graphics accelerator hardware) to achieve 3-D effects. "In every platform beginning with PCs, 3-D software accelerators have always preceded 3-D hardware accelerators," Carmack said. "The software implementations usually just pique people's interest in 3-D. But the real compelling game content never comes about until you have a very capable graphics-processing unit."
Charles J. Murray