New 3-D chip launched today

From: Marshall Burns (
Date: Fri May 29 1998 - 04:01:46 EEST

Here's some news that could have important ramifications on the
long-term growth of the fabricator industry, by encouraging the
development of still better and easier-to-use 3-D CAD packages.

08:27 PM ET 05/27/98

AMD to launch K6 chip upgrade, 3D features

    SAN FRANCISCO, May 27 (Reuters) - Advanced Micro Devices
Inc will introduce a new K6 chip with improved multimedia
technology, and it hopes to entice video game developers to
embrace the chip by launching it at the big E3 trade show.
    The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said it will introduce
the AMD-K6-2 Thursday at the E3 Expo in Atlanta, the biggest
trade show for the video game industry. The new semiconductor
will contain a new multimedia instruction set called 3D Now.
    Analysts said the new instruction set seeks to improve on
Intel Corp's MMX multimedia technology. The new K6 has
three dimensional graphics capabilities embedded in the chip.
    "The idea is to accelerate even more of the graphics
process than MMX does," said Dean McCarron, a principal at
Mercury Research in Scottsdale, Ariz., adding that AMD is
trying to "out-MMX MMX," referring to Intel's technology.
    The new K6 is the first upgrade of AMD's microprocessor
since it was launched in April 1997. The K6, which is a clone
of Intel's Pentium II, has found a home among some top-tier PC
makers in their sub-$1,000 offerings, such as Compaq Computer
Corp and International Business Machines Corp .
    McCarron said it is possible AMD will also announce on
Thursday some top-tier PC vendors who plan to use the new chip.
    AMD has made inroads with PC makers by pricing its chips at
an average of about 25 percent less than Intel's processors.
    But with its newest K6, its instruction set differs from
Intel, and analysts said the key to its widespread use will be
in the software packages that are designed around it. Microsoft
Corp is supporting the K6-2 with an application
programming interface (API) called Direct X, which is a key
interface between the hardware and the software applications.
    Direct X is now in customer testing and was not included in
Windows 98. But software developers can easily download
upgrades to get new APIs, such as Direct X, McCarron said.

    "Having the hardware in place is only one step," McCarron
said. McCarron said that he expects the K6-2 will be in
widespread use in about a year, but that some new PCs and
software applications that take advantage of the K6-2 3D
capabilities, especially in the video game area, will be seen
this year, by the big fourth quarter retail season.
    Intel is also developing a new generation of multimedia and
three dimensional graphics capabilties, in a chip code-named
Katmai, which is expected sometime next year.
    ((Therese Poletti, SF Bureau, 415-677-2542))

Marshall Burns

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