Report: Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 graphics card is Mac-bound

A graphics card based on Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 285 chip is headed to the Mac Pro, according to tech blog Engadget. The report indicates that the card is coming this June.

The GeForce GTX 285 is one of Nvidia’s most powerful GPU designs; it sports 240 processor cores, a 648MHz graphics clock and 1,476MHz processor clock, and is capable of a texture fill rate of 51.8 billion per second. It comes equipped with 1GB of GDDR3 memory standard and two Dual-Link DVI connectors each capable of driving a 30-inch display like Apple’s Cinema HD Display. Cards based on the GTX 285 chip have been available for the PC since January, 2009, and currently retail between $330 and $400.

Benchmarks from PC performance sites show that the GeForce GTX 285 significantly outperforms other graphics cards like those available in the Mac Pro, including the ATI Radeon HD 4870 — the current high-water mark for Mac Pro graphics performance, available as either a $200 configure-to-order option for new Mac Pros or as a $349 add-on for existing systems. Indeed, the GTX 285 seems to match or perform slightly better that the 4870 X2 — a two-GPU variant of that ATI card.

Neither Nvidia nor EVGA, a graphics card maker whose logo appears emblazoned on the image in Engadget’s story, would confirm the news when contacted by Macworld. But the release of such a card in June is plausible given the timing: Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) runs from June 8 - 12, 2009.

What’s more, Apple is expected to release Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” at about the same time. The new operating system will feature support for OpenCL, which leverages the parallel processing capabilities of modern GPUs to speed up computational work for applications beyond games and other graphics-oriented software. OpenCL is expected to gain traction in science and engineering, biotechnology and other markets.

This marks the second time in two weeks that Nvidia’s been in the Mac news — the company recently announced plans to release a Mac version of its Quadro FX 4800 graphics card — it’s a high-end workstation-class card intended for engineering, 3D visualization, medical science and more. By comparison, the GeForce GTX 285 is consumer-oriented and lacks a 3D stereoscopy interface.

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