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Chips off a new block

Faster and better 3D graphics are on the rendering horizon with Cirrus's introduction of a new family of multimedia accelerator chips.

Faster and better 3D graphics are on the rendering horizon with today's Cirrus Logic (CRUS) introduction of a new family of multimedia accelerator chips designed for the consumer PC market.

The Laguna3D chips are designed to take advantage of Microsoft's Direct3D API and Intel's Accelerated Graphics Port. AGP is an extension of the 32-bit PCI bus technology now used most PCs.

Cirrus is taking advantage of AGP by using a 64-bit processor along with high-bandwidth Rambus DRAM (RDRAM) to speed rendering of processes like texture maps and Gouraud shading, which add realism to 3D graphics.

The company claims that 2D graphics will also benefit from the new chips, with resolution of up to 1,600 by 1,200 pixels supported at refresh rates of 85 MHz and true color operation at resolutions of up to 1,024 by 768 pixels.

A non-AGP Laguna3D accelerator chip is already shipping in volume at $29.50 for 10,000 units. The Laguna3D-AGP accelerator is expected to be available in volume in the first quarter of 1997. No price was announced.