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NEC delays PowerVR 250 – again

Part now due in June -- a year after it was supposed to ship

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NEC's PowerVR 250 PC 3D graphics accelerator, designed by UK firm VideoLogic, will now not make it to market before the summer, according to the Japanese chip maker. The delay marks the second time NEC has had to put back shipment of the long-awaited VideoLogic part. Last year, it was forced to abandon a summer 1998 release schedule and bring volume production back to the first quarter of 1999. And last autumn NEC was forced to admit problems with PowerVR production had scuppered Sega's release plans for its Dreamcast games console -- its graphics engine is driven by the PowerVR 2 chip (see NEC admits it delayed Sega Dreamcast) which also forms the basis for the 250. According to an NEC spokesman, the company has had problems casting a production-worthy design, and that will effectively push volume shipments of the part to June. NEC reckons the PowerVR 250 will still be highly competitive so far down the line, but it will be much harder to establish the superiority the company claims the part has. Following the recent release of 3dfx's Voodoo3 accelerator, rival graphics specialists nVidia, S3, ATI and Matrox are readying the next generation of 3D chips, and PowerVR is going to hit the market pretty much as they do, offering broadly the same features. Meanwhile, MaximumPC magazine reports claims from unnamed sources that PowerVR staff at NEC are being moved away from the project, with many of the US-based division that works with games developers and hardware vendors having quit or been laid off. Fortunately, VideoLogic no longer has to rely exclusively on NEC, thanks to a major deal with STMicroelectronics, which has licensed PowerVR for a series of 3D accelerator add-in cards of its own. That agreement gives PowerVR the opportunity to get to market ahead of rival boards, but VideoLogic will still need to pull something pretty impressive out of its R&D hat if it's to gain the lead it would have had if PowerVR has shipped last year. ®

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