Santa Clara multimedia chipmaker S3 Inc realizes that even if you are top of the tree in graphics chips, there are so many hungry competitors after your crown that you are just there to be shot at, and that the only way to maintain your crown is to find innovative new ways to add unique value. Accordingly, the company has come up with an ingenious answer to the problem that Web users never have enough bandwidth when they try to download immersive three-dimensional virtual reality material from the Internet – store the fundamental audio samples and graphical texture elements on the user’s hard disk, so that all that needs to be downloaded is a sequence of instructions on which elements to activate and in what order. Called RIO, for Redistributed Internet Objects, the product is designed for software developers to use in writing three-dimensional applications to improve end-users’ experience, and is claimed to reduce bandwidth constraints in immersive three-dimensional worlds by up to 75%. RIO consists of standardized libraries of graphics textures and audio samples, which S3 will distribute with future shipments of its three- dimensional accelerators. Developers will be able to use the standard libraries to create immersive RIO-enabled Web sites. As the end-user logs on to a three-dimensional or Virtual Reality Modeling Language-based Web site, textures and sounds will be loaded directly from the hard drive rather than downloaded. Also distributed with the texture and audio databases will be six sample VRML 2.0 Virtual Reality Modeling Language worlds. Under its alliance with Intervista Software, Inc, S3 will also develop, distribute and market a RIO-compatible accelerated VRML 2.0 browser plug-in module to provide end-users with increased acceleration when navigating Virtual Reality Modeling Language worlds. The S3d Plug-In has been optimized for S3’s three- dimensional rendering technology with a simplified user interface and navigation tools, and will significantly increase the performance and image quality of the plug-in when paired with S3’s accelerators, the company claims. The S3d VRML 2.0 Plug-In supports hardware acceleration, bi-linear filtering, S3’s Streams Processor, MIP-mapping, customizable front-end and up to 24-bit textures. The browser supports Navigator 3.0 and Internet Explorer 3.0. To rally support for RIO and RIO-compatible products, S3 promises to support developers and end-users energetically with comprehensive programs. The developer program will include online technical support, Internet downloads and financial investments and help with development of high visibility Web sites. Marketing will emphasize consumer demand, such as bundling pacts and logo and advertising programs. As well as coming bundled with new accelerators, RIO texture and audio databases and the new S3d VRML 2.0 Plug-In can be downloaded from S3’s site at http://www.s3.com next quarter.
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