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Climb Aboard Faster Video Bus

-- by Jim Forbes and James E. Powell

With Intel, there's always lots of buzz about the next big thing. And much of the current buzz-following MMX's lead-has to do with video. Intel and a handful of hardware and software vendors are set to make an all-out assault on video performance with a new video bus standard called Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP)

Designed to radically improve graphics performance, AGP's goal is to provide a 10X performance boost in 3-D video. The standard is being created specifically to exploit several technologies, including MMX, enhancements to floating point and internal cache in forthcoming versions of the Pentium Pro series, and a new generation of video controllers Intel is co-developing with Lockheed Martin.

AGP's short-term effect should be a radical improvement in the speed at which your computer can draw polygons, filter and execute graphics, and run video. In fact, as early as the end of this year, it may be possible to buy a new PC with an AGP device and a high-speed (233MHz or faster) Klamath processor with performance rivaling that found in high-end graphics workstations.

As expected, Intel is saving AGP for top-of-the-line systems; most PCs that ship with the new port will have Pentium Pro processors, between 2MB and 4MB of video memory, and software that's compatible with Microsoft's Direct3D and other standards. The bandwidth for such systems should hit 528MB per second, nearly four times the current PCI standard.

Not surprisingly, AGP has attracted a lot of attention. ATI claims it will ship an AGP-compatible board, based on its 3-D RAGE technology, by mid-1997. Matrox says it will definitely support the standard, but isn't ready to announce a product just yet. And Diamond Multimedia is reportedly interested in developing a specialized AGP card. Among the PC makers already evaluating AGP use in Pentium Pro and other desktop systems are Compaq, Toshiba, Gateway and Dell.

Copyright (c) 1997 CMP Media Inc.

Windows Magazine, March 1997, page 52.

[ Go to March 1997 Table of Contents ]