VPU Technology Preview:
The Wildcat VP Series From 3Dlabs
Редакция THG,  24 июня 2002


Creative Help

Creative Help

Only a handful of graphics specialists are left from the 50 or so that once were, and NVIDIA and ATI are the market leaders. 3Dlabs, a pioneer in the OpenGL workstation sector, was also nearly wiped out, were it not for the big spender Creative.

With fresh financing, 3Dlabs was ready to face the tough conditions on the market. And their basic position is not bad at all. The company offers excellent high-end graphics cards for OpenGL workstations, which NVIDIA and ATI have not been able to achieve. Still, you should keep in mind that the market for workstations occupies just about 4%. The rest of the money is to be made in the low-end and mainstream segments.

So how can market shares be gained? In our opinion, 3Dlabs is taking the right steps in the right direction. In order to be successful in the mid-range sector, a manufacturer has to move away from cards that require several chips. If a company can transform its expertise in the high-end segment and apply it to the mid-range, then it literally has the right cards in its hands.

Soon, products from the Wildcat VP series will be introduced. These OpenGL graphics cards are based on a new chip, which goes by the code name P10. The letter "P" was chosen in reference to the previous Permedia chips. The Oxygen cards will be discontinued. With Wildcat, 3Dlabs concentrates only on the brand name. VP, which is short for "Visual Processing," represents the mid-range segment.

P10: GPU Becomes VPU

It has taken almost two years for 3Dlabs to develop the P10. According to 3Dlabs, many of the established technologies were thrown out, and a fully overhauled chip design was born.

The chip has more than 70 million transistors, which even surpasses the Pentium 4 on this count. The costs for the research and development in this project ran up to nearly $22 million. The P10 is produced via the 0.15-micron process, and 0.13-micron is being prepared. 3Dlabs'attention is focused on the full programmability of pixel and vertex shaders - thus the name Visual Processing Unit (VPU). Even textures do not necessarily have to be loaded, and instead, they can be programmed. 3Dlabs keeps the memory management completely virtual.

The P10 can logically address 16 GB. However, Wildcat VP cards will only be available on the market with 64 and 128 MB memory, the rest has to be tapped from slow system memory if needed. The P10 uses 256 instructions per program to process the vertices (transform, lighting and clipping). A maximum of 22 opcodes, 256 constant registers and 16 work registers can be used for this purpose.

The new chip from 3Dlabs has four parallel pipelines for textures. With respect to vectors, they go one step further. Here, scalars can be used, instead of the traditional vectors. The advantage of the scalar approach is that a larger number of vertices can be processed simultaneously.

Wildcat VP Products

The following Wildcat VP cards will be introduced in the next few weeks:

Manufacturer 3Dlabs 3Dlabs 3Dlabs
Model Wildcat VP760 Wildcat VP870 Wildcat VP970
Local Memory 64 MByte DDR 128 MBbyte DDR 128 MBbyte DDR
Introduction JULY 1st, 2002 AUGUST 1st, 2002 AUGUST 1st, 2002
EMEA Pricing RRP $599 RRP $799 RRP $1,400
EST Street Price (US) $449 $599 $1,199
Performance 165M Vertices/sec
23G AA Samples/Sec
188M Vertices/sec
35G AA Samples/Sec
225M Vertices/sec
42G AA Samples/Sec
VPU (3D Chip) Architecture Wildcat VP 700, 800 and 900
Memory Width 256-bit
Memory Structure Unified
Virtual Texturing yes
System Bus AGP 4X/2X*
Dual Head yes
Monitor Connector/s 1x DB-15 VGA and 1x DVI-I (DVI-to-VGA converter included)
RAMDAC Dual 10-bit, 370 MHz
Max Resolution 2048 x 1536
Stereo Sync Port Female, 3-pin VESA
Operating Systems Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 98
OpenGL Version OpenGL 1.2
DirectX Version DirectX 8.1 (1.1 Vertex Shaders, 1.2 Pixel Shaders)
Customer 3ds max yes
Accelerated DVD playback yes
Z-depths 16, 24 and 32-bit
Double Buffered Overlays 8-bit
Stencil Buffer 8-bit
Harwdare Lights 24
Dual Screen OpenGL yes
Anti-aliasing Modes Line Antialiasing (up to 16 samples)
Full Scene AA : Off, 2X, Quincunx and 4X
Two sided lighting yes
Anisotropic Texture Filtering yes
3D Texture Mapping yes
OpenGL 2.0 Prototype OpenGL2 drivers available

Benchmarks: Drivers Not Yet Final

In this preview, we won't be including benchmarks, because currently, the drivers are not quite ready yet. However, there is one thing that we can say: the initial tests show that the Wildcat VP cards can stand their own against the Quadro4 and FireFL 8800/8700.

Driver Screenshots

Driver Screenshots

Driver Screenshots

Driver Screenshots

Driver Screenshots

Driver Screenshots

Driver Screenshots

Driver Screenshots

Driver Screenshots

Desktop Manager

Desktop Manager

Desktop Manager

Desktop Manager

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