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February 28, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Cambridge-based VMEbus board builder Tadpole Technology Plc, and London, Isle of Dogs-based robotics specialist Caplin Cybernetics Corp Ltd – which likes to call itself C3 – have entered into a non-exclusive technology agreement enabling Tadpole to develop and market a graphics accelerator chip with hardware windowing (CI No 864) – and idea of multiple windows controlled by hardware is relatively novel, say the partners. Tadpole is the first company to adopt the chip, and it will be able to market the product, the first for its newly formed Silicon Engineering group in the UK, on the continent and in the US. It will offer the chip as a manufactured product mainly to its customer base. The deal was initiated six months ago and licences Tadpole to design the VLSI chip in detail and market it in either VME board form or chip form, or to embed it in other custom-designed products for major clients. Two-year old C3 has already prototyped the chips and Tadpole will be tidying up the design in readiness to come to market with a board-level product in the third quarter. It is not a mainstream product for C3, which literally acquired the technology when a member of staff with PhD in hardware windowing joined the company. The chip is based on C3’s GS-1 technology which solves the problem of moving multiple images on a display by altering the traditional methods in which memory is mapped to the screen. GS-1 enables windows of varying shapes and sizes to be created and manipulated with a single instruction. Windows can be overlapped, transparently or opaquely, or stacked in planes in full colour. The chip allows the window and data within the window to be manipulated without imposing any overhead on the main processor. The beauty the GS-1 design is that further chips can be added to the board to expand the number of windows or planes available so that a four-plane version can be built to provide 16 colours or an eight-plane board to provide 256 colours. The boards can be stacked to provide even more variation. Tadpole adds that it will be announcing a major product involving its new silicon engineering group and its software group in two months’ time.

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