In the past when you mentioned graphics chips you would only be talking about desktop computers, but Nvidia today unveiled the NVIDIA GoForce 5500 handheld graphics processing unit (GPU) for mobile phones at 3GSM in Barcelona, Spain.

The graphics chip is the industry's first handheld GPU to enable true, fluid digital TV, high-fidelity surround sound, rapid multi-shot photography, and console-class 3D graphics.

Nvidia is promising the new chip will bring the function-specific devices such as the home entertainment system, the digital still camera, or the Sony Playstation to the mobile phone.

Amongst its features, the chip promises playback of H.264, WMV9 and MPEG-4 video up to D1 resolution at 30 frames per second as well as being Compatible with major mobile TV standards including DVB-H, ISDB-T, and DMB networks

Additionally Nvidia is promising 3X the performance of the previous generation of chip and graphics power to recreate Quake III on a mobile device.

Finally the chip is capable of supporting digital cameras up to 10 megapixel resolution

“The introduction of the NVIDIA GoForce 5500 handheld GPU marks the beginning of a new era for 3G mobile phones,” said Michael Rayfield, general manager of the handheld GPU group at NVIDIA. “The NVIDIA GoForce 5500 GPU delivers high-quality video playback and capture, high-resolution camera support, and stunning 3D graphics—all at impressive performance levels that we believe consumers are going to demand in the next generation of mobile devices.”

Phones based on the NVIDIA GoForce 5500 handheld GPU are expected to be available from key handset manufacturers before the 2006 holiday season.