Trident Microsystems has joined the 3D graphics fray with a two-pronged attack which the US company hopes will also spear it a chunk of the emerging digital versatile disk (DVD) market and be a contender for a hot new generation of motherboards and cards.
The 3Dimage 985 processor is the first graphics processor to combine true 3D with DVD support, claims Trident. By "true 3D", Trident means that the chip can produce 600,000 polygons - the triangles that make up the 3D models - every second. This is several times faster than the competition from Cirrus Logic, ATI and S3.
Trident's director of marketing communications Richard Haas stressed the importance of the 3D performance. "We feel that if people want a real multimedia PC then they have to have real 3D graphics," he said.
With bulk prices set at $35 a chip, graphics cards based on the part should be priced in the £100 to £150 range, about the same as the current 3D card competition. A second model, the 3Dimage 985DVD will cost US$10 extra but support the DVD format. Trident says that when used in a 166MHz Pentium-based system, the chip will be capable of showing full-motion DVD video at 30 frames per second with surround sound.
Other features shared by the two chips include ClearTV technology, which scales the monitor display to fit a domestic NTSC/PAL US or European TV screen without flicker or loss of details at the edges and corners.
Trident has already produced two 3D graphics chips but neither saw the light of day. However, the company countered criticisms that it is a latecomer to the 3D market by claiming it is the first chip to provide true arcade-quality graphics.
Graphics cards using the 985 and 985DVD chips will fit into standard PCI slots but Haas said the cards will be optimised for the Intel-backed Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), a standard which speeds graphics by taking the weight off the host processor, in forthcoming MMX Pentium and Klamath architectures.
Trident's UK representative Kudos Thame can be contacted by telephone on 01734-351030.