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Well this should keep them afloat while they try to fend off nVidia. Problem
is that high end graphics actually requires all around good performance, and
nVidia is not sitting idly by and just letting 3DLabs rest on their laurels.
(While 3DLabs may still rule in geometry/line-draw speed, they lose to nVidia
in nearly every other category.)
Well it looks like Kyro was unable to hold its own against either ATI or
nVidia. While their product was credible in its target market segment when
it came out, they have clearly been unable to keep up with the pace set by
nVidia. This is a very sad day as it means that the "deferred rendering"
technology may die an untimely and undeserved death. With the 3DFX/GigaPixel
acquisition nVidia may still bring such an architecture to market, however, so
far it has shown no signs of doing so.
Nintendo game cube uses embedded memory
In an article on EETime.com, the Nintendo GameCube is described as a modestly
architected machine with an emphasis on "real world" performance as opposed to
benchmark performance. Ordinarily I would dismiss such a claim as "damage
control", however, one very important feature that the PS/2 and X-Box is
missing: embedded RAM for graphics. This was a touted as a being a
potentially revolutionary technology by BitBoys and Rendition that didn't seem
to go anywhere, but my inside info tells me that the MoSys folks are for real.
It is essentially a large embedded on-chip cache that is used as a frame
buffer + texture cache. The latency is the equivalent to 2 cycles at 400Mhz.
Which is very nice. The main memory (which is just more MoSys ram, that's off
chip) latency is only twice as bad as that! Holy chow! In essence, the whole
thing will behave as if its always executing out of a local cache!
IBM's claims about leveraging off the existing tool chain has to be put into
perspective though; the X-Box has a much larger and more sophisticated
existing tool chain that developers are using (plus an additional extra
market built in!)
All in all, however, I think the performance of the GameCube should not be
underestimated. The memory bandwidth problems are actually quite important,
and they will not likely be solved with equivalent efficiency in the X-Box
(even nVidia's nForce using HyperTransport can't beat 4 cycle latency out to
That's it. 3DFX is out. The only significant remaining players are ATI and
nVidia. With Matrox and 3DLabs remaining as small market players. From
talking to ex-3DFX employees, the end was inevitable. The sad thing is that
apparently 3DFX had many more designs than just their voodoo architecture, but
corporate egos and just poor business decisions prevented them from supporting
them. Products like Banshee were in debug mode for 6 months which is as long
as nVidia has reduced their entire product cycle to.
Interestingly 3DFX got less than it paid for Gigapixel. I.e., it probably
could have done without Gigapixel and just spent its money nursing its
products ("Rampage" (3DFX's first non-Voodoo based architecture) was
reportedly working at Alpha/Beta quality at the time that 3DFX decided to
sell out to nVidia; certainly they could have brought this to market with
Rather than buying out a board company, nVidia has instead worked a deal with
ELSA to supply worstation versions of their product. This is important from
workstation customers point of view, since that board, and the drivers are a
non-trivial component of the product.
NeoMagic "refocusses" on Wireless
With ATI entering the notebook and mobil market, it was just a matter of time
before NeoMagic (which does not understand 3D) would have to exit the graphics
In this competitive market increasingly dominated by ATI, nVidia, as well as
being assaulted from below by Intel with its integrated chipset, S3 and its
mediocre products have found themselves without room to grow. In its bizarre
mode of late of acquiring second rate technology companies (Centaur/Cyrix) VIA
did not hesitate to pick up S3 as well.
3DLabs buys out Intense3D
In a move to solidify its position in the high end graphics arena, 3DLabs has
moved to purchase the 3D division of Intergraph. These guys are known for
producing the "Wildcat" graphics card which is second to none in its class
(OpenGL CAD oriented rendering.)
In an unusual move towards some sort of consolidation, 3DFX has bought out
graphics start-up Gigapixel. Gigapixel is an IP based company that is touting
a deferred rendering architecture. My inside information tells me that 3DFX
has been turning over employees by the bucket, and pursued Gigapixel to try to
help boost their credibility in the hopes of winning the X-box contract.
The mysterious "Raycer Graphics" has been bought out by Apple before they
even had a chance to start up their hype! From what I know, they were working
on an extremely high end product for industrial use. While this may seem like
part of a long term strategy by Apple, they were unable to retain all the
Intel leave graphics add in card business
Trailing the field in performance, Intel has decided to exit the graphics
add-in card business. While successfully taking low-end and asian markets,
the i740 simply found itself unable to compete against faster consumer boards
from nVidia and 3DFX. Intel will refocus its graphics group on integrated
(with the chipset) graphics solutions.
In a move that threatens to shut out graphics chip vendors from access to the
most popular board manufacturer, S3, has laid the groundwork to buy Diamond
out. This move in addition to 3DFX's recent move to acquire STB will make
life a little more difficult for nVidia.
3DFX acquires STB Graphics
In a bizarre move, 3DFX has acquired STB graphics. Perhaps they are weary of
having to win their business every time they spin a new chip and just want the
simple solution of being able to sell the whole product (just like ATI does.)
ATI buys out Chromatic Research. Chromatic Research's unique media processor
solution did not find much of a following, but it is rumored that Chromatic is
working on an x86 compatible microprocessor, which may be used in a set-top
box that can run Windows. Of course, Chromatic has significant expertise in
DVD and MPEG playback which is probably fairly valuable to ATI as well.
Pioneer in the 3D graphics arena, Rendition has been purchased by Micron
just as it was about to release its 3rd generation product (that was
cancelled.) The best information I have is that Micron and Rendition are
interested in working on embedded RAM solutions.
02/11/00 S3 drops lawsuit and cross license patents with nVidia
07/21/99 SGI drops lawsuit and cross license patent with nVidia
Intel releases P-!!! with SSE (SIMD fp) instructions
SGI, S3, 3DFX all sue nVidia
AMD releases K6-2 with 3DNow! (SIMD fp) instructions.