NVIDIA Corp. has long been known as a leading graphics processor manufacturer, but its involvement in the chipset market is somewhat shorter. The company began to make system logic at the end of 2001, introducing the nForce brand as a visiting card of all NVIDIA chipsets.
Chipsets from the nForce and nForce2 families featured an advanced integrated graphics core ?not a surprise, considering the experience of the company in the computer graphics area. The chipsets (referred to by the engineers as IGPs or Integrated Graphics Processors) with a built-in graphics core of the GeForce4 MX class became a sensation in 2002 as they pushed the performance bar of entry-level computers on a whole new level. Particularly, they delivered two or three times the speed of the i865G, the fastest integrated chipset until their release, in 3D applications. The high performance of the integrated graphics core contributed a lot to the popularity of NVIDIA's nForce solutions.
However, NVIDIA did not continue to develop chipsets with an integrated graphics core. Why? Advanced integrated chipsets interfered with the sales of entry-level standalone graphics cards, so the company focused on discrete chipsets instead. Relying on the experience it had accumulated and on the good characteristics of its discrete chipsets, the company has strengthened its position as a system logic supplier. Right now NVIDIA controls over 50% of the market of chipsets for AMD's platforms ?a tremendous achievement for a term of three years and a half!
Having conquered the discrete chipset market, NVIDIA now returns with its integrated products and has recently announced a chipset with an integrated graphics core for Athlon 64 systems. The company had to correct its policy with respect to integrated graphics under the pressure of the changing market situation. Today, 揹igital home?PCs are becoming fashionable. For such computers multimedia capabilities and simple assembly are the main priorities rather than the performance of the graphics subsystem and NVIDIA's new integrated chipsets are intended exactly for such applications. So, NVIDIA focused on functionality rather than performance when developing its new generation of integrated graphics, and the new IGPs do not threaten the market of low-end 3D graphics cards ?they have too low performance for that. The graphics core built into the new chipsets meets today's functionality requirements, however. It is compatible with DirectX 9, supports shaders, accelerates video decoding, and can of course work with Windows Vista, the upcoming operating system from Microsoft.
Characteristically, NVIDIA didn't use the nForce brand to promote its new IGPs. From the nomenclature point of view the new chipsets are closer to graphics processors ?they will be promoted under the GeForce 6100 brand. The number clearly indicates the affinity of the integrated graphics core to the GeForce 6 GPU family, but also lets you understand that the performance of the core is going to be lower than that of even the weakest standalone graphics card in the series, GeForce 6200 with TurboCache technology.