NVidia announced its most advanced computer graphics chip ever on Wednesday, the GeForce 7800 GTX, made from the same technology that's going into Sony's PlayStation 3 game consoles. It's already available to users in markets around the world.

The new 7800 GTX chips, made for use with PCs running on processors from either Intel or AMD, have been designed to dramatically increase performance while using less power and emitting less heat. That should help it move into the notebook arena, where battery life is vital. NVidia executives said the laptop version of its GPUs (graphics processing units) normally follow the PC versions by six or seven months.

Attendees of the E3 gamers convention in Los Angeles last month got a firsthand glimpse of the graphics power behind the 7800 GTX during PlayStation 3 previews, giving it rave reviews. NVidia officials were careful to point out that only its graphics technology is being used in the chip for PlayStation 3, dubbed RSX, while the rest of the chip will be made by Sony.

"The gaming enthusiasts really are the most demanding of all for computer graphics, more so even than movie studios," said Adam Foat, a product public relations manager at Nvidia, during an interview ahead of the new GPU's launch.

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Extreme gamers can also take advantage of using two of the new graphics chips in one PC through NVidia

At 300 million transistors, the new graphics chip is NVidia's most advanced chip yet. It runs at 430MHz. The chip's transistor and other component layout was designed for 110-nanometre technology, far smaller than the 130-nanometre chips in its previous generation. Production on the chips started in May in Taiwan.

The reference to nanometres refers to the average feature size on a chip. One nanometre is one-billionth of a metre. Switching to a more advanced size allows chip makers to create semiconductors that consume less power, perform faster, and cost less because they require less material.

NVidia will have a 90-nanometre graphics chip on the market by the end of the year, said David Roman, vice president of corporate marketing at the company.