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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nvidia's new graphics chip rings up 'Quake'

Nvidia's latest graphics processor for high-end mobile phones, unveiled on Monday, can take 10-megapixel pictures and decode high-resolution video, thus marking another step toward turning mobile phones into powerful handheld entertainment devices.

The company touted the GoForce 5500 chip at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona. Nvidia is best-known for its powerful PC graphics processors, but over the last few years it has taken steps to recreate sharp graphics on mobile phones and handhelds. The company sells standalone graphics chips for mobile phones and also licenses its graphics technology for other chip makers to incorporate into their products, said Derek Perez, a company spokesman.

Handheld-device designers looking to cut costs tend to pick all-in-one chips that can handle basic applications such as processing, graphics, and voice calls. Chips like the GoForce 5500 are designed for expensive handsets that let users watch movies, play PC-style video games and even pick up digital television.

While phone makers and wireless carriers have expressed excitement about mobile gaming, believing it will help pay for the cost of maintaining high-bandwidth wireless networks, interest has so far been lukewarm. One high-profile attempt, Nokia's N-Gage, has not sold nearly as well as the company would have hoped, but game developers are releasing more and more titles as phones gain more processing power.

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