Enthusiasts waiting for the next big thing in PC graphics don't appear to have too much longer to wait if new messages on NVIDIA's social media channels bear fruit at the end of the month. Today sparked the start of the Ultimate Countdown - 21 days until August 31st, marking the day that the GeForce 256 graphics processor was launched 21 years ago - which upon conclusion is expected to herald the public unveiling of much-anticipated the GeForce RTX 30-series.
A countdown to a GeForce Special Event livestream hosted by NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang is now visible at https://www.nvidia.com/en-gb/geforce/special-event/. The timer will run out at 9am PDT (7pm BST, 8pm CEST) on September 1st, a little later than originally expected.
The GeForce 256 was the first in NVIDIA's 'GeForce' product line, and for many PC gamers turned out to be their own first dedicated 3D Graphics processor. Its 1999 release coincided with great games of the era such as System Shock 2, Homeworld and Quake 3 Arena, but perhaps more significant was the GPUs performance boost over the previous hardware generation and effective longevity well into the mid-2000's. If a PC hardware hall of fame existed, the GeForce 256 would probably be an inaugural inductee.
NVIDIA's upcoming launch on August 31st will likely be the RTX 30-series, the first consumer designs based on their cutting-edge Ampere architecture. Little is known about the true specifications of their hardware - rumours abound of 20 or 24GB of VRAM and 5376 shaders at the top end (almost 20% more than the RTX 2080 Ti) - but performance levels in hybrid ray-tracing in particular are anticipated to be much improved over the Turing architecture.
It's believed that the actual launch of the RTX 30-series will be in mid-September, giving consumers plenty of time to work themselves into a frenzy over whether to pre-order or hold off for launch-day reviews. The biggest question to be answered is how far they will out-strip the first RTX models, especially with AMD currently out of the picture at this end of the market.