NVIDIA was founded in 1993 by Jen-Hsun Huang, Chris Malachowsky, and Curtis Priem. Its first product was the NV1 chip which was used in the Diamond Edge 3D launched in 1995 and despite what NVIDIA is today, it was a complete business fiasco.
The NV2, on the other hand, was never on the market, as it was a contract with Sega America to make a slightly more advanced version of its failed Sega Saturn, but the contract was not made in reason for Sega’s cancellation of the project. , which was called the Sega Saturn V08.
The first two designs made by NVIDIA were based on rendering by quads instead of triangles, so they didn’t follow the standard pattern when rendering scenes in 3D, forcing NVIDIA to follow the path of the rest of the manufacturers. graphics cards and it was with the NV3 that the NVIDIA legend started to take off with its first successful graphics chip.
The best NVIDIA graphics cards ever
Then we leave a list for you, there are not all those that have appeared on the market, but, if those who have marked a before and after in the graphics card market starting with the pre-GeForce era until today, we hope you will enjoy this retrospective that we have prepared for you.
RIVA 128 (NV3)
Long before GeForce, the name Riva was linked to NVIDIA and its first major launch was the Riva 128, unlike its direct rival, the 3Dfx Voodoo Graphics, it is a graphics that integrated the 3D accelerator on a single chip and the VGA.
We are talking about a graphics chip that was created in the days when there were no shader units and they did not calculate the geometry on the graphics chip itself, so this step depended on the processor.
The Riva 128, although a remarkable card, suffered from the poor quality of the DirectX API at the time compared to 3Dfx’s proprietary Glide API, but we remember that it was the graphics card with which NVIDIA began its legend in the footsteps. false initials.
RIVA TNT series (NV4 and NV5)
The second generation of NVIDIA RIVA came with a improved raster unit this allowed them to take advantage of the greater power of the Pentium II and AMD K6 of the time when processing scene geometry.
Like the RIVA 128, we are dealing with a graphics chip integrating both the VGA part and the 3D accelerator, the main novelty of which was its two texture units from which it owed its name, TwiN Texel.
This was the first time NVIDIA outperformed 3Dfx in spec, as it allowed rendering with 32-bit color and supported textures of 2048 × 2028 pixels while the Voodoo was limited to 256 × 256. Additionally, the Direct rival of the first Riva TNT, the 3Dfx Voodoo Banshee, had a single texture unit.
The suicide of 3Dfx
NVIDIA emerged as the market leader in graphics cards following the launch of the first GeForce, but to understand how NVIDIA came to dominate the market and the fall of 3Dfx, you have to consider the context of the time.
3Dfx made the mistake from the purchase of graphics card manufacturer STB, to become a sole producer of graphics cards. The 3Dfx movement has greatly angered card assemblers. It’s as if today NVIDIA or AMD decided to do without ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, etc. Create their own graphics cards, which would cause a huge setback from these manufacturers.
The 3Dfx movement has made NVIDIA the apple of the eye of graphics card manufacturers, coupled with the DirectX 7 API It was superior to Glide, which led the various studios that developed PC games to switch from 3Dfx’s proprietary API, Glide, to DirectX. This has greatly benefited NVIDIA, which has seen the PC gaming market stop buying 3Dfx cards to buy ones with NVIDIA chipsets.
GeForce 256 DDR (NV10)
In late 1999, NVIDIA released the first GPU in history, named after the entire graphics pipeline was run on the GPU without requiring a CPU, thanks to its T&L Unit who was in charge of the calculations in the stages preceding the rasterization, during which stage geometry, and which have been executed by the CPU so far.
NVIDIA surprised everyone with the GeForce 256, and it was the graphics card that completely destroyed 3Dfx in the market, because while the Voodoo 4 and Voodoo 5 were ready to compete with the Riva TNT 2, at NVIDIA they have took a giant leap forward with this card, which included not two texture units but four, and they were also the first graphics cards to incorporate DDR memory.
Such was the dominance of the GeForce 256 and its successor, the GeForce 2, that several manufacturers left the graphics card market never to return and even its rival 3Dfx went bankrupt to ironically become part of NVIDIA. On the other hand, ATI has become a rival of spite with the Radeon and the competition of these with the GeForce hard today.
GeForce 3 (NV20)
The second turning point in NVIDIA history came with the launch of the GeForce 3.
In 2001 came the third generation of GeForce and with these Vertex and Pixel Shaders, whose concept is to be able to run small programs on the GPU that allow you to manipulate vertices and pixels. Obviously the first implementation was very limited compared to what we have today, but Shaders have completely changed the way graphics are rendered and have remained standard to this day.
The advantage of shaders is that without them if you want to implement a new graphic effect you have to micro-wire it and therefore create a new chip, shaders implemented for the first time in GeForce 3 allow developers to apply effects on them. vertices and pixels through programs running internally on GPUs.
GeForce 8800 GTX (G80)
At the end of 2006, the GeForce 8800 GTX appeared, based on the G80 chip, which was the first NVIDIA GPU to I unify the units dedicated to shaders. The concept is that instead of using different types of units for each type of shader, as had been done until this time, one general unit was used that works for any type of shader.
Today, all GPUs on the market have their unified shaders, from those used in smartphones to the most advanced workstations. It should be noted that this was not the first domestic GPU to unify shaders, since the first was the ATI Xenos for Xbox 360, but as for the PC, the GeForce 8800 GTX was the first.
However, it was the first time that the term appeared CUDA core to refer to the ALUs in FP32 within the GPU itself, a term NVIDIA continues to use to this day and which was the first architecture NVIDIA targeted in the high performance computing market.
GeForce GTX Titan (GK110)
The first NVIDIA Titan first appeared in 2013.
I inaugurate a new segment In the personal computer graphics card market, a range far beyond what we have been used to before, designed for those who want graphics cards with maximum performance regardless of the price.
When the GTX Titan first launched it seemed crazy to many, today with models like the RTX 3090 on the market it is more than clear that the line that NVIDIA started with the GeForce GTX Titan is in great shape.
The Titan line is one of NVIDIA’s flagship lines for enthusiasts and that is why we have decided to recall the first GeForce Titan.
GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (GP102)
The Pascal architecture resulted in a huge win for NVIDIA over AMD, but its GTX 1080 Ti is a card many of us will remember for the tremendous performance it brought us in games.
This doesn’t mark a before and after in NVIDIA history in terms of architecture, but its performance was so good for the time that many came to believe that NVIDIA released a card from a later generation by fault. Even some of the RTX 2000 models have been outmatched in a multitude of matches against this brown beast.
GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (TU102)
The RTX 2000 is the the biggest change in terms of architecture on NVIDIA GPUs in history since the 8800 GTX with the addition of the Color tensor and the RT hearts. Based on the TU102 chip, it served as the basis for later NVIDIA designs such as AMD’s current RTX 3000 and AMD RX 6000.
Although Tensor cores were added in Volta, this architecture never had a home version, so Turing was the first GeForce architecture to implement them, incorporating specialized units for artificial intelligence and allowing the use of GeForce. in said field of IT.
As for the RT Cores, they are used to calculate the intersection of rays in Ray Tracing, which has allowed us to gradually start bringing ray tracing to the domestic market where games have started implementing them and they have become the de facto standard for years to come.
These are the most notable NVIDIA graphics cards in history, and we’re sure they won’t be the last and we’ll see this list grow in the future.