The Wildcat III technology on which the new cards are based differs from its Wildcat II predecessor in several ways. First, the core graphics processor combines geometry and rendering functions into one ASIC (Wildcat II has a separate ASIC for each function). The integrated chip, according to the company, results in an up to 65 percent increase in geometry performance, and a 2X improvement in line and polygon rendering performance. Next, Wildcat III has twice the on-board memory bandwidth of Wildcat II, because it uses DDR memory for frame buffer and texture memory (Wildcat II uses SDRAM). Other improvements include better line anti-aliasing, support for up to 32 light sources in hardware (Wildcat II supports 24), better gradient fill performance, improved texturing with the additions of multi-texturing and cube- and bump-mapping, and support for OpenGL 1.3, Open ML 1.0, and DirectX 7.0.
Both Wildcat IIIs are available from OEM manufacturers including Compaq, HP, and IBM. They will also be available through systems integrators in the second quarter of this year. Approximate prices are $3000 for the 6210 and $2000 for the 6110. (3Dlabs; www.3dlabs.com) -Jenny Donelan