System builders can expect the next generation of PCI Express (PCX) graphics technology from graphics giants nVidia and ATI as early as this July.
PCX, the next-generation high-speed PC bus architecture that is being promoted by Intel and partners, will replace the current AGP technology, but this is not expected to start happening until the second half of 2004.
PC manufacturers have so far been slow to commit themselves as to when they will switch to PCX, and volume supplies of motherboards supporting PCX are not expected until May at the earliest.
Some PCX announcements were expected at the recent Intel Developers' Forum (IDF) conference, but nVidia surprised the market by announcing a full range of PCX graphics processing units.
Using its new High-Speed Interconnect (HSI) technology, nVidia claimed it can transform its current GeForce FX series into a full family of PCX processors.
ATI used IDF to demonstrate its native PCX processor with Pinnacle Systems, showing how PCX-based graphics can allow for high-definition video editing on a PC for the first time.
The new nVidia series includes the top-end GeForce PCX 5950, performance PCX 5750, mainstream PCX 5300 and entry-level PCX 4300 processors. nVidia claimed it has shipped more than 1,000 PCX boards to key card manufacturing partners, such as MSI, Gigabyte, Asus and Gainward.
"The PCX transition is going to be an exciting time for the PC industry," said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of nVidia.
"By aligning ourselves closely with Intel and helping to define this new specification, we were able to engineer an innovative protocol engine, HSI, that delivers the full PCX feature set without any compromises."
Vicky Burgoyne, general manager at card manufacturer PNY Technologies, said: "The take-up of PCX depends on how well Intel drives it and how quickly PC manufacturers move forward with new motherboards. From the add-in card point of view, PCX will not be really big until the PCs change.
"From the information we have seen from Intel, early motherboards are expected in June or July, and you can expect system builders to have PCX PCs out there as early as July or August.
"We believe the price of incorporating PCX will be roughly the same as current AGP technology, which is important for it to achieve rapid take-up."
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