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Sony has licensed VIA subsidiary S3 Graphics' S3TC texture compression algorithm for use in the PlayStation Portable (PSP), the two companies announced this week.

Texture compression essentially allows a 3D graphics engine to display crisper, more detailed scenes and models without swamping the system's bandwidth.

The technique has been around for some time - S3 launched S3TC back in 1999 before it was acquired by VIA. S3TC was quickly challenged by one-time king of 3D graphics market, 3dfx, which released an open source texture compression algorithm. Nintendo licensed S3TC for GameCube. Today, it's supported by Nvidia's GeForce 6800 series.

Texture compression has been added to DirectX and other popular 3D graphics frameworks, and there can be few graphics engines and chips that don't use texture compression of one form or another. ®

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