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NVIDIA intros Quadro FX 5600: Mac-bound in April?

updated 01:50 pm EST, Mon March 5, 2007

NVIDIA Quadro FX 5600

NVIDIA today provided a long-awaited refresh to its workstation graphics with the Quadro FX 5600, the company's new flagship. A pro version of the GeForce 8800, the chipset borrows the same 128 unified hardware shaders to provide a major speed boost over the earlier 5500. The change also allows the processor to use CUDA technology, NVIDIA says: because of the more generalized hardware, some tasks that would otherwise be handled by the main CPU can be offloaded to the new Quadro instead. Faster, larger 8K by 8K texturing and SLI support for twin cards in one system are also part of the upgrade.

Read through for launch details and hints of imminent use by Apple.

The chipset at the heart of the system will be shared between three different models, according to the company. The FX 5600 itself will have 1.5GB of RAM and process 19.2 billion textured pixels per second at $2,999, while the shorter and relatively inexpensive ($1,999) FX 4600 will carry 768MB of memory and calculate a more modest 12 billion pixels. A second model, the Quadro Plex Model IV, will pair two of the chips in an external adapter for those who need even quicker rendering without losing space inside the computer. No performance details or prices have been given for the third device.

While no specific plans have been revealed for the new cards beyond their inclusion with major system builders' workstations, the company has given signs that Apple is likely to be one of the first to include Quadro FX 4600 or 5600 in its new systems. Speaking with journalists, NVIDIA Professional Solutions manager Jeff Brown today revealed that Apple and other video-focused hardware and software developers were interested in the new design.

"Image processing is the fundamental algorithm set that video editing guys use," he said. "And traditionally that has been very CPU-centric, and now we're starting to see more and more image processing moving to the GPU. So folks like Adobe, Apple, Avid are excited about this concept. It gives them much, much higher levels of performance."

The statement has strong implications for next month's National Association of Broadcasters expo, where Apple is already widely expected to promote new versions of its pro video editing software. A Mac version of the graphics card and a refreshed Mac Pro have been rumored to accompany a new version of Final Cut Studio to help accelerate ultra-high definition video editing. Motion, which is part of the existing suite, already supports using 3D processing to speed 2D editing. [NVIDIA via Gizmodo]

By Electronista Staff
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