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Nvidia graphics chip to debut at game bash

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Nvidia confirmed with CNET that it will begin selling the next-generation graphics processors at the company's GeForce LAN 2.0 fan appreciation day on June 21. The event includes a daylong BYOC (bring your own computer) games competition where individuals and teams will play first-person shooter titles including "Doom 3," "Battlefield 2" and "Splinter Cell" over an ad hoc network.

The GeForce 7800 is expected to come in three versions--GTX, GT and Standard--and is the heir apparent to Nvidia's current top-end products--the GeForce 6800 Ultra, 6800 GT, and 6800. The new GeForce series is expected to compete with ATI's upcoming Radeon R520 graphics chip when it debuts in late July.

The GeForce 7800 family, previously code-named G70, is expected to run at clock speeds of around 430MHz, with 1.2GB of double data rate, or DDR memory, sources close to the release said. The core of about 300 million transistors will help the chip compute 24 pixels every time the processor completes a cycle. The transistor boost means one GeForce 7800 GTX card should process graphics as well or better than two GeForce 6800GT cards installed in a PC. The new chips will also come with advanced shading that makes the quality of graphics akin to that of films.

Prices have not been established yet. But based on current pricing trends, graphics chip research analyst Jon Peddie predicts the new graphics boards should retail between $499 and $599.

"Whatever the price, this is not going to be an inexpensive board," Peddie said, noting that traditionally, Nvidia customers are 17- to 35-year-old males with disposable income. "I don't think people realize how delighted these guys are whenever a new graphics chip comes out...the first thing that they do is try to get the PC to go faster and the second thing they do is make the graphics look better."

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