In the next step of its concerted campaign for world domination, Microsoft Corp has identified the leading graphics chip designers for elimination. The company is planning to announce a new hardware architecture code-named Talisman for three-dimensional graphics and multimedia on the Windows personal computer at Siggraph 96 in New Orleans next month. It claims that […]
In the next step of its concerted campaign for world domination, Microsoft Corp has identified the leading graphics chip designers for elimination. The company is planning to announce a new hardware architecture code-named Talisman for three-dimensional graphics and multimedia on the Windows personal computer at Siggraph 96 in New Orleans next month. It claims that by treating physical objects to be displayed on the screen as software objects that are held in main memory, having been pre-processed into polygons and sorted – based on their distance from the viewport-by software. Talisman will offer performance rivalling that of high-end graphics workstations at a cost of two to three hundred dollars. Microsoft has lined up graphics gurus Jim Kajiya from the California Institute of Technology and Jay Torborg, who was with Alliant Computer Systems Corp to describe the project on August 9 at the show. Its aim, say the two, is to exploit both spatial and temporal coherence to reduce the cost of high quality animation. Individually animated objects are rendered into independent image layers which are composited together at video refresh rates to create the final display. Electronic Engineering Times claims Microsoft is working on the project with Samsung Semiconductor Co, Cirrus Logic Inc and Fujitsu Microelectronics: Samsung will provide a signal processor chip for geometry calculation, lighting and Z-sorting; Cirrus Logic’s compositor chip will take polygons from main memory (via Intel Corp’s new AGP Accelerated Graphics Port), preprocessing them in macroblocks; and Fujitsu’s RAMDAC digital-to-analogue converter pushes the information onto the screen, says the paper. JPEG compression is likely to be used so as not to overload the 66MHz AGP’s bandwidth. By eliminating the screen buffer and graphics accelerators, Microsoft hopes to cut costs, though it’s not yet clear how cheaply the new chips can be incorporated. And as with NEC Corp and VideoLogic Plc’s competing PowerVR chips, the novelty of the architecture may mean there are compatibility problems with existing two- and three-dimensional applications. Intel is likely to be less than pleased, as it wants these tasks done within the main processor – its first MMX multimedia extensions-compliant Pentiums are expected in the fourth quarter. But critics have already claimed that, even with the MMX instructions, Pentiums will not be fast enough for multimedia (CI No 2,898).