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July 21, 1998

INTERGRAPH CLAIMS NEW NT GRAPHICS ARE AS FAST AS UNIX

By CBR Staff Writer

Beleaguered Intergraph Corp tried to forget about its legal tussles with Intel Corp at Siggraph in Orlando, Florida this week, and launched a new set of graphics acceleration hardware it claims will outperform all other Unix and NT graphics offerings. Using custom ASICs and a new 3D architecture for Windows NT that it’s calling ParaScale as its technical underpining, Intergraph previewed its Intense 3D Wildcat series of 3D graphics accelerators, claiming a product scalable five to ten times over that of competing products. Viewperf benchmarking scores scale from 200 Viewperf scores for the entry-level offering up 1,000 Viewperfs at the high end. Intergraph said the technology brought performance and functionality comparable to Silicon Graphics Inc’s InfiniteReality graphics on Unix workstations over to Windows NT at a tenth of the price. The product will also support NT’s first scene-based anti-aliasing tool in the shape of Intergraph’s SuperScene – something that’s also been confined to high-end Unix workstations until now. Parascale uses parallel techniques to split up graphics tasks into separate portions, each processed by a separate 3D graphics pipeline. The Wildcat card supports add-on chips for upgrading, and currently supports frame buffers of up to 256Mb and total texture memory of 1Gb, large, by NT standards. A programmable geometry engine supports current APIs and makes it easier to add support for future graphics APIs, such as Fahrenheit, the proposed combination of Microsoft Corp’s DirectX architecture with Silicon Graphics’ OpenGL (CI No 3,314). Such support could be added via driver downloads. Hard-wired geometry engines require chip redesigns in order to support new APIs, said Intergraph. The new technology will be sold as part of Intergraph’s TDZ 2000 range of workstations, versions of which using Intel’s Xeon chip were shown at the graphics event. Intel will also sell the technology to its OEMs, which include Dell Computer Systems Inc, Digital Equipment Corp, IBM Corp and Fujitsu Ltd. It will charge just under $3,000 when the first, entry level product, the Intense 3D Wildcat 4100, begins shipping this December. Prices and availability for the rest of the family were not available.

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