ERMEDIA 3 Graphics Processor article by Al Giovetti


By Al Giovetti
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ERMEDIA 3 Graphics Processor


Company Line


3Dlabs Announces PERMEDIA 3 Graphics Processor

Forthcoming 128-bit device to process up to 250 million texels-per-second; Single-chip design includes Virtual Texturing and extensive DirectX 6 functionality

San Jose, CA -- July 13, 1998 -- 3Dlabs(R), Inc. (NASDAQ:TDDDF) today announced the details of its forthcoming PERMEDIA(R) 3 graphics processor, its next-generation device in the award-winning PERMEDIA family, which integrates 2D, 3D, digital video and VGA processing in a high-performance, single-chip design. Processing up to 250 million texels-per-second while rendering dual-textured polygons in a single pass, the PERMEDIA 3 design is expected to deliver comprehensive acceleration for Microsoft(R) DirectX(R) 6 multimedia API - providing fast gameplay while boosting 2D, video and 3D Windows application performance. 3Dlabs has completed design of the PERMEDIA 3 and expects to sample and ship the device during the second half of 1998.

3Dlabs today also announced the formation of its Desktop Products Strategic Business Unit. James Carrington, formerly director of marketing at 3Dlabs, will become vice president of desktop products. The Desktop Business Unit will develop and market merchant chip-level products for the mainstream Windows(R) 95/98- and Direct3D(R)-based PC graphics markets, including the high-performance and consumer segments. This new business unit is chartered to enhance the positioning and sales of 3Dlabs' PERMEDIA products in the mainstream PC graphics marketplace.

The PERMEDIA 3 will be manufactured in a 456-pin BGA package using a state-of-the-art 0.25 micron silicon process. The device is expected to be priced at approximately $45 for quantities of 100,000 units per month once it enters into production and will be available solely from 3Dlabs. The Company does not expect to derive revenues from PERMEDIA 3 until Q4 98.

Quotes "The PERMEDIA 3 architecture is the result of a dedicated development effort by 3Dlabs to deliver a complete, single-chip, high-performance accelerator for DirectX 6," said Osman Kent, president and CEO of 3Dlabs. "We expect the projected performance and feature set of this latest-generation PERMEDIA processor will position 3Dlabs as a contender in the PC performance desktop and high-end gaming graphics markets by offering what OEMs and end-users have been looking for: high 3D fill rates, sustainable special effects, fast 2D and DVD playback with support for multiple displays, digital flat-panels and advanced video options."

"We are excited to see that 3Dlabs is planning to offer such a comprehensive set of the functionality exposed by our DirectX APIs in PERMEDIA 3," said Kevin Bachus, product manager for DirectX at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). "The availability of powerful hardware acceleration like the PERMEDIA 3 will allow developers to include more impressive special effects, such as bump-mapping, high-quality filtering and multi-texturing in their Windows applications. As a result, we believe Windows users can look forward to a greatly enhanced interactive gaming experience."

"PERMEDIA 3 will place 3Dlabs directly in the mainstream 3D market with a leading-edge part that leverages its hardware and software technology across the GLINT(R) product family and prior generations of PERMEDIA," said John Latta, industry analyst at Fourth Wave.

"Together with 3Dlabs, we have successfully delivered high-performance graphics products based on PERMEDIA 2 to our OEM commercial customers, including Dell and Fujitsu," said David Watkins, vice president and general manager of the visual systems at Diamond Multimedia (NASDAQ:DIMD). "We are excited by the innovative technology and complete DirectX 6 feature set designed by 3Dlabs to be part of PERMEDIA 3 and we look forward to continuing to work closely with 3Dlabs to offer the next generation of PERMEDIA technology to our customers." "ELSA selected PERMEDIA 2 to enter the commercial desktop and entry level workstation markets based on our GLoria(TM) Synergy graphics accelerator. Among others, we have enjoyed design wins with leading PC OEMs such as Compaq and HP," said Thomas Neubert, vice president of sales and marketing at ELSA, Inc. "We are confident that the advanced PERMEDIA 3 technology will allow us to continue our growth in those market segments."

"PERMEDIA 3's expected ability to perform intricate 3D features in a single pass with stunning visual quality will continue the success of the award-winning PERMEDIA product line," said Nathan Bozeman, executive director of product marketing for STB Systems (NASDAQ:STBI). "Its support of OpenGL(R) and DirectX 6.0 features will position PERMEDIA 3 as a strong offering in the commercial and consumer 3D graphics markets."

"The PERMEDIA 2 already enables acceleration of 3D-intensive games, such as Forsaken, at high resolution," said Shawn Rosen, producer of Forsaken at Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKLM). "Developers can only expect more from the new-generation PERMEDIA hardware, which is expected to offer unique DirectX 6 features including Virtual Texturing and single-pass multiple textures. Gamers will finally be able to experience fluent game play and to truly immerse themselves in a stunning visual world."

"3Dlabs' PERMEDIA 2 has been an excellent platform for OpenGL- and Direct3D-based games," said Eric Demilt, producer of Stonekeep II and Fallout 2 at InterPlay Productions. (NASDAQ:IPLY). "With increasing support for DirectX 6 from advanced 3D hardware, including the PERMEDIA 3, we will be able to produce even more mind-blowing titles without worrying about acceleration bottlenecks."

"Our development teams here at Rage have always enjoyed working alongside our colleagues at 3Dlabs, with whom we share an ongoing commitment to stunning 3D gameplay," said John Heap, head of development at Rage Software. "3Dlabs first revealed its dedication to 32-bit color rendering with PERMEDIA 2 and this will be enhanced with the addition of 32-bit Z-buffering in PERMEDIA 3. With this and the many other expected innovations in PERMEDIA 3, we very much look forward to continuing a successful long-term relationship with 3Dlabs."

PERMEDIA 3 Technical Information PERMEDIA 3's 3D architecture is designed to process advanced visual effects in a single cycle, including bump-mapping with surface textures. PERMEDIA 3 is currently the only announced single-chip design capable of this level of projected performance. With a 128-bit high-bandwidth memory interface, PERMEDIA 3 will also apply two bilinear-filtered textures or a per-pixel tri-linear mip-mapped texture in a single cycle with Z-buffering, alpha-blending, stenciling, fogging and blending enabled.

PERMEDIA 3 is expected to provide performance that is well-matched with today's CPU technology and will scale in performance with faster processors expected in 1999. PERMEDIA 3 is designed to accept polygon commands at a peak rate of eight million per second, and to provide approximately up to six times the gameplay performance of PERMEDIA 2 when applying multiple textures to rendered polygons.

Additionally, PERMEDIA 3 is expected to be the first graphics processor to offer Virtual Texturing - a capability that automatically manages optimal placement of textures in system and local graphics memory. The PERMEDIA 3 architecture incorporates a demand-page texture sub-system that causes a dedicated DMA unit to download 256x256 pages of textures to local memory when they are first accessed. This will allow software developers to straightforwardly load all textures into system memory, while the hardware autonomously maintains an optimal working set of texture pages cached in available local graphics memory for maximum performance. Virtual Texturing will allow execution of textures from system memory in PCI, as well as AGP systems, provides optimized use of backplane bandwidth and avoids local texture memory fragmentation through virtual to physical texture address mapping.

To offload the host CPU, the PERMEDIA 3 architecture incorporates an enhanced Delta floating point setup engine with multiple texture perspective calculations and polygon culling in hardware, and is designed to directly process native Direct3D buffers, including Flexible Vertex formats.

To deliver high-quality images, the PERMEDIA 3 architecture has been designed to provide full-scene anti-aliasing and is optimized for true color display and will support a high-resolution 32-bit Z-buffer, as well as non-linear 16- and 24-bit Z-buffers, an 8-bit stencil and an 8-bit destination alpha buffer.

The PERMEDIA 3 design incorporates a complete AGP 2X implementation, with full sideband and texture execute functionality. PERMEDIA 3 will also be 100% PCI 2.2- and PC98-compatible.

PERMEDIA 3 is designed to support from 4 to 16 Mbytes of local memory for driving high-resolution displays and will be able to utilize SDRAM or SGRAM at speeds up to 200MHz. SDRAM and SGRAM designs will be able to use the same software drivers. Incorporating a 270MHz RAMDAC, PERMEDIA 3 is designed to drive true color refresh rates as high as 137Hz at 1280x1024 resolution, 96Hz at 1600x1200 resolution and 90Hz at 1920x1080 resolution. PERMEDIA 3 architecture also features a 24-bit digital pixel port, capable of driving high-resolution digital flat panel displays when used with a PanelLink(TM) compatible transmitter or when using alternative proprietary schemes.

High-quality software DVD playback will be accelerated by PERMEDIA 3's PC98-compliant video core designed to offload significant processing from the host CPU, including MPEG-2 motion compensation, YUV-RGB colorspace conversion and arbitrary XY scaling with bi-linear filtering. Two on-chip 80 Mbyte/second VIP video ports will allow PERMEDIA 3 to interface with external video hardware.

In addition to DirectX 6 and Direct3D 6, PERMEDIA 3 will support a wide range of highly-optimized drivers such as an OpenGL Installable Client Driver, as well as 2D drivers for Windows NT(R) 4.0, Windows 95 and Windows 98.

About 3Dlabs Founded in 1994, 3Dlabs is a leading innovator and a fabless supplier of high-performance graphics semiconductors, software and related technologies designed to bring cost-effective 2D and 3D graphics to the personal computer. The Company has introduced eight 3D graphics processors over the last four years with price, performance and functionality designed to meet the demand for 3D on the PC, ranging from low-cost consumer to high-end workstation market segments.

The Company markets and sells its award-winning merchant 3D graphics processors to PC and graphics board OEM customers and selectively licenses its embeddable graphics processor cores on a royalty-bearing basis to strategic technology partners. Companies using 3Dlabs' graphics processors in their systems include Acer, Compaq, Dell, Digital Equipment Corporation, Fujitsu, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Micron, NEC, and Siemens Nixdorf. Leading board vendors using 3Dlabs' graphics processors include AccelGraphics, Appian Graphics, Creative Labs, Diamond Multimedia, ELSA, Hercules, Leadtek, Omnicomp and STB Systems.

For more information on 3Dlabs and its products, please visit our Web site at

Notes to Editors - Please note that 3Dlabs is written as one word, without a space and with a capital D. The recommended way of writing GLINT is all capitals and for PERMEDIA we recommend small caps or all caps, depending on the medium.

3Dlabs, GLINT and PERMEDIA are registered trademarks of 3Dlabs Inc. Ltd. Microsoft, Windows, DirectX, and Direct3D are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. Pentium is a registered trademark of the Intel Corporation. OpenGL is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics, Inc. All other trademarks are acknowledged and recognized.

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