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MS, Cirrus try out next Windows

Microsoft and Cirrus Logic demonstrate Intel's newest graphics technology running on Microsoft's next-generation Memphis operating system.

Microsoft (MSFT) and Cirrus Logic (CRUS) have demonstrated Intel's newest graphics technology running on Microsoft's next-generation operating system, code-named Memphis, at Meltdown '97 in Fremont, California.

Cirrus said today that its Laguna3D-AGP graphics accelerator is the first chip of its kind to be demonstrated running on the Memphis operating environment. Memphis, due later this year, is the follow-on to Windows 95.

The Cirrus chip was demonstrated using a prototype AGP chipset from Intel, Cirrus said. Intel is expected to promote its Pentium II processor, formerly known as Klamath, as the processor of choice for AGP-capable PCs. The Pentium II is expected to ship in the second quarter.

AGP is a next-generation, high-performance 3D graphics technology targeted for use on mainstream PCs. Current 3D graphics architectures found on many typical low-end and midrange PCs can choke on the immense amount of bandwidth needed for high-level 3D graphics. AGP was designed to eliminate this bottleneck.

Specifically, AGP is a dedicated connection between 3D graphics chips and system memory that is designed to help the PC keep up with the demands of data-intensive 3D applications.

Memphis and the next version of Windows NT will provide full functionality for any AGP graphics chip, Microsoft said. This will be accomplished with extensions to APIs (application program interfaces) related to the Virtual Memory Manager and Direct Draw, Microsoft said.

Cirrus said it expects to deliver a commercial version of its AGP chip in the second quarter. Initially, these chips running on Windows 95 will be recognized as PCI devices, Microsoft said. However, on Memphis, they will be fully recognized as AGP chips, Microsoft added.

Personal computers using AGP-compliant accelerators are expected to arrive in the second half of this year, coinciding with the introduction of systems using the next-generation Pentium II processor.