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Nvidia scores more high-end wins

The graphics chip firm continues to do well as almost all major PC makers announce new models using its latest Riva TNT processor.

Nvidia's graphics chips continue to do well in high-end computers as almost all the major PC makers have announced new models using its latest Riva TNT processor.

Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, Gateway, Micron, and Hewlett-Packard all feature Nvidia's Riva TNT graphics chips in their top-of-the-line consumer PCs that use the newest Intel Pentium III processor, Nvidia said today in a statement.

ATI Technologies and S3 are also leaders in the PC graphics chip market, but offerings from these companies tend to appear in more low-cost boxes than Nvidia. In the fourth quarter of 1998, Nvidia was the fourth-largest graphics chipmaker, according to Mercury Research, with an 8 percent market share.

In the high-end segment--populated by game enthusiasts and PC aficionados--Nvidia competes with Matrox and 3Dfx. But Nvidia is also targeting the low-end of the consumer PC market with its new Vanta chip.

The developments are part of a frenzy of new product activity that presages yet another bruising round of competition for 3D chipmakers. More than 40 companies produce 2D and 3D graphics accelerators, far more than the industry can support.

The sheer number of manufacturers has eroded margins for chip and board makers and has accelerated the development cycle. As a result, consumers are getting a lot for their money.

After the main microprocessor, graphics chips are the most critical piece of silicon in personal computers today. These chips handle the manipulation of images users see on their computer screens and are increasingly important as computer interfaces and 3D games become more sophisticated and demanding.

3Dfx carried out a corporate makeover--backed by a Web site redesign and a $20 million ad campaign--designed to promote the Voodoo3, the company's latest graphics processor.

Nvidia said it would begin to ship its TNT2 in May, a 128-bit graphics chip with up to 32MB of dedicated memory. Diamond has already signed up to include the TNT2 on graphics circuit boards.

Also, 3Dlabs announced a new graphics accelerator board for entry level workstation PCs called the Oxygen VX1. The new board uses the company's new Glint R3 processor.