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Metabyte unveils multiple 3D card technology

Parallel Graphics Configuration dramatically boosts 3D performance claims developer

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Metabyte has finally issued details of its upcoming Wicked3D Parallel Graphics Configuration (PGC) system (see Metabyte to double power of nVidia TNT). PGC allows multiple 3D accelerator cards to render an on-screen image co-operatively. The technology, which includes hardware to connect the cards and software drivers to make it all work, is similar to 3Dfx's Scan Line Interleave (SLI). However, while SLI uses two cards to render alternate scan lines, effectively doubling the host PC's ability to render 3D scene, PGC splits the image into horizontal bands and dedicates a card to each band. SLI is currently restricted to two cards both based on 3Dfx's Voodoo2 chip-set. PGC, on the other hand, can connect as many cards as the host PC has suitable slots. The only limitation, says Metabyte, is on the PC's ability to keep pumping 3D data into the graphics pipeline. It's not yet clear whether the technology will work with cards from different vendors -- so far, all of Metabyte's demos have been with two cards from the same supplier. Metabyte has also not said when PGC is likely to ship. According to Maximum PC magazine, which was given a demo of the technology, Metabyte still has a lot of work to do ensure each card's on-screen band matches up with all the others. It's also working on getting the technology to work on an AGP bus, both for multiple AGP cards and a mix of AGP and PCI devices. Still, when PGC finally appears, the benefits for gamers will be significant. Metabyte's own tests suggest a minimum performance boost of 40 per cent using two cards. That is likely to improve at the company perfects the technology. ®

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