Intel Corp has finally has made its long-awaited entrance into the rapidly emerging market for 3-D graphics chips with the release of its I740 chip, formerly known as Auburn. Despite its dominance of the mainstream market, the chip giant faces stiff competition from the 40 or so established players including the likes of S3, Matrox […]
Intel Corp has finally has made its long-awaited entrance into the rapidly emerging market for 3-D graphics chips with the release of its I740 chip, formerly known as Auburn. Despite its dominance of the mainstream market, the chip giant faces stiff competition from the 40 or so established players including the likes of S3, Matrox Graphics, Toronto based ATI Technologies and Trident Microsystems. The company developed the I740 with Orlando Florida based Real 3D Inc in which it bought a 20% stake earlier this year and Chips & Technologies which it acquired outright back in July last year (CI No 3,213). Intel also has stakes in 3Dlabs Inc and 3Dfx Interactive Inc. The new chip supports the AGP, Accelerated Graphics Port standard, designed to enable data to be transferred to main rather than local memory, for better 3D performance particularly in texturing and imaging, The company is promising 3D graphics acceleration at resolutions up to 1,600 x 1,200 with 256 colors at 70Hz to 75Hz, at 1280×1024 with 256 colors between 75Hz and 85Hz and at 1024×768 with up to 16 million colors at 70Hz to 85Hz. Intel’s also touting support for major industry APIs such as Direct 3D and OpenGL in Windows 95, 98 and NT 4.0 and 5.0 with additional memory support for 2MB to 8MB of SDRAM or SGRAM. In addition it’s claiming to support software DVD at around 24 frames per second. Initial takers for the new chip will be the likes of Real 3D, Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc, STB Systems Inc, Asia Pacific companies Asustek and Leadtek and UK-based Modular Technology Ltd who are set to release boards based on the I740 shortly. Graham Palmer, European marketing manager for chipsets and graphics, dismisses suggestions that Intel is late for the party saying he expects sales of 3D chips to take off between 1998 and 1999 as the market moves from PCI to AGB technology. But if smaller graphics specialist chipmakers are scared they’re talking a good fight. A spokesperson for Toronto, Canada based ATI Technologies commented: We’ve been in this business for over ten years, there are a lot of players and it’s very competitive. We haven’t seen Intel’s offering yet but it doesn’t sound like any great breakthrough, we’ve been shipping AGP controllers since August and we’ve shipped more than anyone else, he said, although of course, the AGP standard was originally developed by Intel.
A major shakedown
ATI has around 20% of the 3D graphics market with its 3D Rage Pro card according to recent figures from Scottsdale, Arizona based Mercury Research. However the ATI spokesperson added: There are 38 players in this market at the moment and I’d expect to see a major shakedown over the next two years irrespective of the Intel move. He also suggested that Intel would have trouble adapting from its current 12 to 14 month product cycles to the typical 6 to 8 month cycles of the 3D graphics market. Joe D’elia an analyst with Gartner Group commented: I think Intel is aiming at the mass market here. It’s very difficult to sell a PC without a 3D graphics card these days despite the fact they’re only really used for games and in high powered CAD applications. Despite Intel’s lack of experience in the 3D graphics market D’elia thinks the company’s tie up with Chips & Technologies and Real 3D will give the new offering a lot of credibility. He believes this is the first step towards developing graphics technologies that will one day be integrated together with a CPU and logic components on a single chip. The Intel740 is available now for third party graphics vendors and OEM manufacturers priced at $35 in 10,000 unit quantities.