Sun sees more visualisation

Sun is attempting to capitalise on SGI's financial problems by stepping up its efforts in graphics workstations.

At the heart of Sun's efforts are two graphics processing architectures. Last week, Sun released its Expert 3D card for its Ultra 60 and 80 workstations to improve the ability to create textured effects on surfaces. The Expert 3D card is made for Sun by Intense3D.

Potentially far more important though, Sun last week said manufacturing had begun for its MAJC processor through partner IBM. MAJC, which stands for Microprocessor Architecture for Java Computing and is pronounced 'Magic', is intended to accelerate graphics tasks such as digital video editing, computer-aided design and visualisation.

Sun will use MAJC on all future graphics cards and will tout the chip as suitable for e-commerce decryption in Web servers, for networking hardware controlling voice and data traffic, or for home control consoles. Sun has spent over four years developing MAJC and the chip is likely to make its commercial bow later this year in a new line of Sun workstations based on the delayed UltraSparc III 'Cheetah' processor. However, Sun has yet to give names of companies that will build products around MAJC.

Sun also is extending its Solaris operating system with a new visualisation feature called Xinerama that allows screen images to be displayed across up to 12 monitors.

SGI last month reported an $18m (£11.39m) net loss for its third quarter compared to $40m a year ago, as it struggles to restructure around Linux. The firm last week released its InfiniteReality3 graphics subsystem for its Onyx2 workstations that can use up to 128 processors.

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