Trident leads graphics chip race

Trident becomes the first company to announce a graphics chip based on Intel's future 3D graphics technology for MMX-enabled P6 processors.

2 min read
Trident Microsystems (TRID) became the first company to announce a graphics chip based on Intel's future 3D graphics technology for next-generation MMX-enabled P6 processors.

Intel's future 3D technology, the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), is a dedicated connection for 3D graphics chips and is designed to help the PC keep up with the demands of new, high-powered workstation-class graphics chips due to ship in 1997.

Trident's chips will offer 2D, 3D, and DVD graphics playback acceleration using the 133-MHz AGP bus specification. Other graphics companies are designing chips around the baseline, lower-performance 66-MHz specification.

Trident says the 3DImage 985 will be able to achieve a peak 1.2 million polygon-per-second rendering rate, a tenfold increase over many current systems. The company says its on-chip setup engine offloads as much as 50 percent of the 3D computing normally done on the main processor.

Another chip, the 985DVD, will support full-motion DVD video at 30 frames per second with Dolby Surround sound, the company said.

The new chips will go into volume production in the second quarter of 1997 but consumers aren't likely to see AGP-ready systems until September of 1997, according to Trident.

Trident says the 3Dimage 985 will cost $30 and the 985DVD will cost $37.50 in quantities of 10,000.

Intel's next-generation Klamath P6 processor was originally due to ship in the first quarter of 1997 but is now slated to ship in the second quarter next year. This P6 processor will support Intel's MMX mutlimedia technology that speeds up various multimedia applications written to take advantage of MMX. Intel will also ship in the first quarter of 1997 an MMX-enabled Pentium chip, but this will not offer as much performance as the P6. Moreover, AGP is targeted at the P6 processor, not the Pentium.

"AGP makes the most sense for the P6," said an Intel spokesperson. Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.