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home : articles : An X-Box Interview with NVIDIA

Joe Glass
March 15, 2000

An X-Box Interview with NVIDIA
Is NVIDIA ready for the X-Box?

We begin with Derek Perez...

Joe: For those who don't know, please explain what's your position at NVIDIA?

Derek: My name is Derek Perez and I'm the PR Manager here at NVIDIA

Joe: Why, in your opinion, did NVIDIA beat other competing companies as the exclusive graphics chipset for Microsoft's X-Box?

Derek: The X-Box GPU selection process was grounded in a few principles:

1) Microsoft needed to find a company that could deliver a processor with the ability to enable maximum performance. The processor had to deliver several times the graphics quality of any system coming on the market. NVIDIA was the best solution to deliver the desired chip in the needed timeframe.

2) As the heart and soul of the platform, Microsoft needed to find a company that could
execute on our aggressive engineering schedule and deliver a high quality, reliable solution.

Joe: Could you explain the advanced features of the X-Box NV25? What makes the X-Box NV25 unique? You stated earlier in your interview with HardwareGuru.de that there is a per pixel shader and programmable geometry engine in the NV25.

Derek: Now, seeing that we have not yet announced the spec's of the X-Box GPU - if I told you, I'd have to kill you :)

Joe: We wouldn't want that now..

Derek: What I can tell you is that the GPU being developed for X-Box will be the world's first trillion operations per second (TOPS) processor and featuring a programmable per pixel shading architecture not found in any other product today. In addition to the per pixel shading technology, the GPU will include full support for programmable geometry, hardware accelerated transform and lighting, a variety of compressed texture formats and many other features. With the ability to process over 1 TOPS, the GPU will be several times faster than any current game console.

Joe: Will the NV15 for PC measure up to the performance we saw on the X-Box?

Derek: No, NV15 is just a small percentage of what the X-Box can do...

Joe: You said earlier that the NV25 will be exclusive to the X-Box. Since the X-Box will use an NV25 chipset, will we not see NV25 on PCs? Will the PC have it earlier than the X-Box next year Spring 2001 or just skip it and go to the next version up - for example NV30?

Derek: No, there is no NV25 - we are calling [it] the X-Box GPU and rest assured, we are not ignoring the desktop market - we are still laser focused on delivering the world's best 3d graphics for the desktop PC.

Joe: What do you think of the Microsoft X-Box demos and which is your favorite one?

Derek: All of the demos were jaw-dropping - in fact I was sitting next to Dan Vivoli our VP of marketing, who's been in the 3D graphics business for the last 12 years and his comments were that in all of his years, he's never seen anything so impressive.

I think my favorite was the Japanesse pond and the ping-pong balls with mouse traps. That was pretty impressive - but just think all of those were done on the NV15. So, just think what you will be able to do in 3 generations when the X-Box GPU is launched.

Joe: By the way, who's that X-tatooed she-male doing Taibo in one of the X-Box demos? Is she the future step child of Wanda from the GeForce 256 demos?

Derek: Good question, I don't have a clue of who she is or where she came from - I think she's cut from the mold of Chyna (WWF, baby) & the Terminator.

Joe: Yeah, she was sent to the past to prevent Wanda from being born..


Anyway, the Microsoft X-Box demos layed down some smack on NVIDIA's old GeForce 256 demos. Will NVIDIA release new tech demos as good as X-Box's?

Derek: We'll do what we can, but that just shows what money can buy you (great looking demos). But I do believe you will be impressed with the demos for the launch.

Joe: With the Microsoft X-Box coming out, is SONY truly NVIDIA's competitive enemy in the console space?

Derek: I think we have a couple of competitors - ATI, 3dfx, Matrox, S3, Intel and Sony - and they all do great graphics.

Joe: Ok, now moving to non X-Box questions..

Joe: Will we see NVIDIA entering the Macintosh market this year? Would an NVIDIA graphics chipset be a better solution than an ATI based graphics chipset?

Derek: I think the Mac market makes sense for us, it's a good piece of business that is demanding a good graphics solution - but we need to be sure that we can support them, and all of our business, to the fullest. But if I were a betting man, Mac would be something that NVIDIA would look to attack in 2000 - 2001.

Joe: What's the OFFICIAL statement from NVIDIA about the leaked 5.08 drivers that were leaked from mother Russia? What do you think about Brian Burke's comments (from 3dfx) about the sub-standard full screen anti-aliasing support in the drivers?

Derek: Well, seeing that those are leaked drivers - they are not NVIDIA certified and we tell people to use these at their own risk.

As for Brian Burke, he should really focus on 3dfx and the VSA - 100 (does that stand for Very Slow Architecture - 100 MHz?) and leave NVIDIA alone - but of course I think he has what we call GPU envy.

Joe: Ouch! Them's fightin' words.. hehe.

Will we see new X-Free 4.0 TNT and GeForce 256 drivers with accelerated OpenGL for Linux soon?

Derek: They should be released here shortly...

Joe: Ok, now let's move to the more serious topics at hand...

What do you think about the new web sub-culture forming around NVIDIA and 3dfx users - better known as NVIDIOTS and 3dfx'ians?

Derek: I think it cool that people are taking pride in their graphics accelerators and like to back such fun and exciting companys.

Joe: What's it like living in San Jose? Is the traffic truly horrendous as they say it is? How do you ever make it to work on time?

Derek: San Jose is cool - I've lived here basically all my life and couldn't live anywhere else.

From my home, I'm: 45 minutes from SF, 4 hours from Lake Tahoe (great boarding), 1 hour from Santa Cruz (great beaches) and 2 hours from Monterey/Carmel (great golf). We've got great sports teams: 49ers, Raiders, Giants, A's, Sharks, Warriors (okay, maybe only a few great sports teams) and we are at the heart of where all the technology innovations happen.

It's quite cool...but expensive and filled with people. I work from home early in the AM and stay late to by-pass all the traffic.

Joe: What's the local gas prices for unleaded at the pump? Will you be forced to car pool with other NVIDIA employees?

Derek: Gas prices are pretty steep (especially if you own an SUV) - its about 1.80 per gallon at Chevron or Shell. As for comuting, I work wild hours, so I don't think it would be wise (plus, I'm not sure many of the engineers would enjoy my music or Howard Stern in the morning).

Joe: What's the number one game played at NVIDIA? Who's the local champ?

Derek: Rogue Spear and my boy, Brian Harvey is the pimp here - although Grampa Chris Donahue and Zorba the Greek, Brain Winslow both keep their pimp hands strong.

Joe: Sounds like a personal problem. Hmm.

Are you the on the giving or receiving end of insults during a game?

Derek: Ah, I just kill people and move on - no tauting 'cuz you never know when you have a bad game.

Joe: If you had $20 bucks to blow on, what software would you buy? Deer Hunter II or Barbie Fashion Designer?

Derek: If I had $20, I think I'd pass on the games and buy a round of beers for my friends.

Joe: Actually, I think I have a coupon for Barbie.. Whoops, talking out loud again.. hehe

Anyway, thanks for your time Derek.

Derek: Cheers.

Well, that wraps up our interview with Derek. I hope it sheds some light on the X-Box and NVIDIA's NV25. If you missed our X-Box Analysis, be sure to read it here. It discusses the X-Box in detail and Microsoft's X-Box strategy. The question now is, will you buy an X-Box?

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