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ATI pushes for faster 3D speed

ATI, a major supplier of 3D graphics chips, is suggesting that Intel's AGP baseline 66-MHz specification is not enough speed for 3D.

ATI, a major graphics chip vendor, has stated that Intel's (INTC) current baseline specification for 3D graphics is not sufficient.

ATI released a statement suggesting that the lower-performance (baseline) 66-MHz Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) specification doesn't provide enough of a performance increase for 3D graphics acceleration to meet the demands of 3D content. ATI, instead, is suggesting that the high-performance 133-MHz AGP specification be used.

The next generation of 3D graphics chips must be able to process tremendous amounts of data instantaneously. With existing systems, the main processor still has to communicate with the graphics cards over a 32-bit PCI bus that is shared with other peripherals. That means that no matter how powerful the graphics chip is, processing power is reduced by the limitations on the communication channel between the graphics card and the motherboard.

AGP is a dedicated connection for graphics chips designed to help the PC keep up with the demands of new, higher-powered graphics chips. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

Intel's baseline AGP technology is based on a speed of 66 MHz. The specification also accomodates a high-speed connection of 133 MHz. ATI is recommending that the baseline 66-MHz specification will not be adequate. "The 66-MHz specification will not...deliver the bandwidth 3D developers need," the company said in a prepared statement.

At a recent AGP forum, Eisler told forum members that if the industry can work together to accept the high-performance AGP specification, the improvements for 3D acceleration as well as cost-savings can be realized by Christmas, 1997.

Intel is slated to bring out its own graphics chips in 1997 based on the AGP specification. Others will also bring out graphics chips including Cirrus Logic, S3,3DLabs, Trident Microsystems, and Number Nine Visual Technologies.

Intel's chips will likely appear in PCs and personal workstations in the second half of 1997 that also feature Intel's next-generation P6 processor.