Nvidia yesterday began shipping the GeForce GTX 480, with double the number of processor cores previously available at 512. The card is intended to to permit smooth playback and editing of 2D or 3D content, including animation, games and videos.

The GTX 480 supports Microsoft DirectX 11, Direct3D and PhysX, Nvidia's real-time physics engine and SDK that came along with its acquisition of Ageia in 2008. Now tailored for Nvidia's CUDA GPUs, PhysX off-loads physics processing tasks from a system's main CPU.

The board uses NVidia's latest graphics processing architecture--called Fermi after nuclear reactor inventor Enrico Fermi--which the company says will provide a platform not just for media producers and gamers, but for high-end modeling applications such as those used in meteorology, geology and medical research.

The GeForce GTX 480, which contains 1.5GB of dedicated graphics memory, is Nvidia's answer to AMD's Radeon 5870 product, which came out in September. Early indications are that GeForce keep pace with the Radeon in one-card tests, but in a two-card test reported in PC World, outperformed by a significant margin. The GTX 480 will cost you a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot and about US$500.

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I am Technical Editor of the [url=http://www.crn.com]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=http://crn.com]www.crn.com[/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

Between '06 and '09 I was editor of [URL=http://stpmag.com]ST&P[/URL], a software testing trade magazine. I also wrote a software [URL=http://www.sdtimes.com/content/testqa.aspx]Test & QA [/URL]newsletter, and was chairman of the [url=http://stpcon.com/]Software Test & Performance conference[/url].