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Intel updates 3D technology

The chipmaker releases specifications for the second generation of its 3D technology, doubling the speed of current technology.

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
Intel (INTC) has released specifications for the second generation of its 3D technology, doubling the speed of the company's current technology.

The preliminary specifications were released for the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), the chipmaker's graphics technology designed to provide high-end 3D performance on lower-cost Microsoft-Intel machines.

AGP creates a dedicated high-speed data path, or bus, between main memory, the chipset, and the computer's graphics chip. AGP allows a computer to process high-end graphics on relatively low-cost PCs.

The main achievement with AGP 2.0 is that it runs at twice the speed of AGP 1.0. Under the new version, computers will be able to process up to 1GB of graphics data per second. Current AGP-enabled systems at best can process 528MB of graphics data per second. The dedicated graphics bus, however, will continue to run at 66 MHz.

This is expected to improve 3D processing performance on Intel-based machines, according to a company spokesman. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

While the preliminary specification is out, a final version of the specification will not be out until the first quarter of 1999, the spokesman said. Systems incorporating AGP 2.0 will not be available until the second half of the year.

AGP 1.0 was released commercially for the first time this past August. The technology was incorporated into Intel's 440LX chipset and a number of complementary graphics accelerators.

The technology consists of three parts: graphics accelerator chips that comply with the AGP standard, an AGP-compliant system chipset such as Intel's 440LX, and software to make it all work.

Although a number of vendors came out with chips to support AGP upon its release, some graphics chip vendors such as S3 said in August that they would wait until Windows 98 is out to fully support AGP. AGP is optimized for Windows 98. Intel, in fact, has released drivers so that AGP 1.0 will work on Windows 95 systems.

Specifications for AGP 2.0 can be downloaded from the Intel Web site.