11th January 2001

Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR™ in STMicroelectronics’ KYRO™ PC Graphics Accelerator Unveiled

"Breakthrough 3D Graphics and Video Accelerator at Computex, Taiwan Breakthrough 3D Graphics and Video Accelerator at Computex, Taiwan"


PowerVR Technologies a division of Imagination Technologies announces that STMicroelectronics has today unveiled its revolutionary KYRO 3D graphics and video accelerator at Computex in Taipei. KYRO is the first full-featured PC graphics and video accelerator based on Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR Series3 technology.

KYRO utilizes innovative PowerVR Tile Based Rendering to avoid the memory bottleneck and deliver breathtaking 3D graphics image quality and stunning 3D graphics performance, with crisp 2D graphics, studio quality video playback, and DVD decode support. KYRO is the result of the partnership agreement between ST and Imagination Technologies that was announced one year ago, and combines Imagination’s acclaimed PowerVR technology with ST’s world class digital video capabilities, process technology expertise, and manufacturing capability.

Hossein Yassaie, CEO of Imagination Technologies says : PowerVR technology has already achieved great success in both game consoles and arcade systems. ST’s KYRO, featuring PowerVR Series3 technology will further extend the availability of this innovative technology to a broad range of PC consumers. These consumers will get the benefit of performance leading graphics combined with enhanced image quality at an affordable cost through the inherent benefits of the PowerVR architecture.

Tim Chambers, VP and General Manager of ST’s Graphics Business Unit says: Customers are clamouring for a graphics solution with excellent image quality and a complete modern feature set at a reasonable cost. The KYRO technology intrinsically provides these benefits, due to its high performance and low-cost frame-store technology. Developers can finally create rich environments at high frames, as KYRO’s Tile Based Rendering approach takes care of increased scene complexity.

Kathleen Maher, analyst and Editor-in-Chief of the Peddie Report, sees an opportunity for an independent provider of graphics controllers, saying: With KYRO, STMicroelectronics and Imagination Technologies have sliced the pie in a different way. Our research of the graphics and multimedia markets reveals a pressing need for a graphics solution that can sidestep the challenge of bandwidth and memory limitations and can provide graphics performance at attractive price points for mainstream computing.

S. Kea Grilley, Director of Technology and Initiative Marketing at Intel says: Intel has been working with STMicroelectronics to advance visual computing on the PC platform. Continued evolution in visual computing requires ever faster CPU performance and speedier graphics accelerators. Today the combination of fast Pentium III processors and innovative graphic accelerators, such as KYRO, brings the benefits of superior image quality and leadership performance to the consumer.

KYRO’s Tile Based Rendering makes extremely efficient use of the available memory bandwidth; it can be shown that the PowerVR Tile Based Rendering technology requires less than one third of the memory bandwidth required by conventional 3D accelerators. This frees content developers to focus on realistic environments rather than having to resort to programming tricks to reduce scene complexity and image quality, which are required to improve frame rate with traditional 3D accelerators.

Says Mike Feibus, a principal analyst at Mercury Research Inc., in Scottsdale, Ariz: Frame rate has always been important to PC gamers. But increasingly, they are demanding higher levels of realism, as well. Going forward, successful 3D graphics hardware will provide advanced quality features as well as higher frame rates.

Ned Finkle, director of Infrastructure Technology Development Group at AMD says: With the innovative new KYRO, AMD Athlon™ processor users will now have access to a system capable of delivering unprecedented image quality and performance. We look forward to continue working closely with STMicroelectronics to enable superior graphics products for AMD platforms.

KYRO also features Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA), superior colour precision via 32-bit Internal True Colour™, support for 8-layer multitexturing, and Direct3D compliant Environment Bump Mapping.

Full Scene Anti-Aliasing
When correctly implemented, Full Scene Anti-Aliasing delivers a significant improvement in visual quality. KYRO makes use of its internal Tile Buffer to implement both 2X and 4X high quality Full Scene Anti-Aliasing.

Superior Colour Precision 32-bit Internal True Colour™
All of KYRO’s pixel operations are rendered on chip at full 32-bit Internal True Colour resolution, maintaining the best possible image quality irrespective of the number of image layers or frame buffer bit depth. When operating in 16bpp frame buffer, KYRO avoids the colour banding or grainy effects seen on traditional hardware, and the consumer receives best game performance without sacrificing visual quality. Internal True Colour also saves memory bandwidth whatever the colour depth, thus enabling KYRO to provide class-leading performance in 32bpp modes.

Realistic Environments using 8-Layer Multitexturing
KYRO fully supports 8-layer multitexturing, significantly improving on the dual or triple texturing capabilities of traditional accelerators. With its support of multiple texture layers, KYRO allows more detailed backgrounds, realistically lit models, and more plausible environments to be created. When compared with traditional accelerators, KYRO’s 8-layer multitexturing results in significant performance and quality improvements.

Direct3D Environment Bump Mapping
KYRO also supports efficient Direct3D Environment Bump Mapping, which adds significant realism to 3D rendered scenes by allowing the developer to create the illusion of depth on a surface. KYRO’s Environment Bump Mapping uses per pixel operations to represent detail on much larger polygons. As KYRO’s Environment Bump Mapping is fully Direct3D compliant, developers are able to use it to create a wide range of effects including making metal, plastic, rubber, or other objects look real.

Other Features
Other KYRO features include a fast 128-bit 2D engine, hardware video playback and DVD decode assistance, AGP 2.1 Bus Master Interface supporting AGP 1x, 2x and 4x with SBA for host based textures, a 128-bit SGRAM/SDRAM interface with up to 64 Mbyte support, and integrated Palette DAC. A video input port allows connection to a wide range of video source and capture peripherals, while a digital video output port provides glueless connection to flat panel displays and TV encoders, KYRO has full support for both Microsoft DirectX 7 and OpenGL1.1 3D graphics APIs. Systems that feature KYRO will be able to meet the requirements of PC 99A and support DVI compliant Digital Flat Panel displays. KYRO will ship with fully optimized driver support for Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. Direct3D HAL and OpenGL ICD are fully supported. A range of utilities for OEM customization is provided, and a secure web site for technical support has been established.

Production quality silicon is being shipped to OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and AIB (Add In Board) customers now. ST expects board level products to be available from AIB customers within Q2 2000, with KYRO 32 Mbyte boards expected to be available at retail below $200 (USD).

Under licensing arrangements, Imagination Technologies receives royalyties on processors based on PowerVR.


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