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Wicked3D breaks free from hardware biz

Company to focus on multi-card acceleration software and becoming as famous as 3dfx

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US developer Metabyte is to transform its Wicked3D hardware division into a software only operation, the company said yesterday. The move will see the company discontinue its 3D graphics card and stereoscopic 3D system -- though support for existing customers will be maintained -- and focus on the software behind them. That's likely to see the company making a bigger deal out of its 3D card connection technology, PGP (Parallel Graphics Processing). As reported by The Register earlier this year, PGP will allow graphics accelerator cards to combine their rendering power, much as 3dfx's Scan Line Interleave (SLI) technology allows two Voodoo 2 cards to operate as a single, double-speed board. PGP, however, brings the same approach to other vendors' cards. Initially, it will support two cards from the same chipset developer -- two nVidia TNT 2 cards, say -- but eventually Wicked3D hopes to allow cards from different suppliers to be combined, and to support more than two cards. Unlike SLI, in which each card renders alternate video scan lines, PGP splits up the display into as many sections as there are connected accelerators, and allows each card to get on rendering its own portion of the scene. Wicked3D's business model for PGP will centre on licensing the software and required hardware modifications to the likes of Diamond Multimedia, Guillemot and Creative Technologies, much as nVidia, S3 and co. license their graphics chipsets. That allows Wicked3D to concentrate on PGP development without the need to sell graphics cards into a highly competitive market, one that's already hitting Diamond and Creative's profits hard. It also allows the Wicked3D brand to stand for a technology rather than cards based on someone else's products, in the case of Wicked3D's hardware, 3dfx's Voodoo 2 technology. Companies like 3dfx, nVidia and S3 are in many ways better known and certainly more highly rated than the Diamonds and Creatives who actually ship products based on their technology. Wicked3D clearly wants to be viewed in the same light. PGP might well put it there. ®

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