Trident introduces tile-based 3D chip with shaders

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this press release from the folks at Trident. They've got a new 3D chip, aimed at the easier and safer mobile market, with full DirectX 8.1-class vertex and pixel shaders built into a tile-based rendering architecture. The chip can deliver a gigapixel per second of fill rate, and it can apparently lay down up to 8 textures per pixel: "Full DirectX 8.1 hardware with BrightPixel(TM) rendering engine delivering the highest 3D performance at 1 billion pixels/sec and 8 billion texels/sec."

No kidding.

The press release lays it all out in yellow and blue:

XP4 BrightPixel(TM) is Trident's state-of-the-art 3D graphics rendering engine which implements in hardware all features of the Microsoft's latest DirectX 8.1 graphics standard for Windows operating systems. XP4 BrightPixel(TM) engine includes both fully programmable Vertex Shader and Pixel Shader, enabling 3D graphics programmers to individually color each pixel uniquely at maximum performance. . . . Another key architectural advance in XP4 BrightPixel(TM) engine is how the pixels are drawn: instead of drawing consecutive pixels organized in standard scan lines, XP4 draws groups of pixels organized as rectangular tiles. This advanced method of rectangular pixel tiling greatly improves memory bandwidth efficiency and results in higher 3D graphics performance.
All of this in a chip that's only 30 million transistors. Impressive. This is the only truly shader-equipped mobile chip of which I'm aware.

I'm a little skeptical of the 8 gigatexels/second number, though. I doubt the chip has eight texture units per pipe. I expect they're actually accumulating the results of multiple texture operations in the tile buffer, which would require additional clock cycles. The Kyro, which is also a deferred rendering architecture, does a similar thing with its tile buffer.

No word on when—or whether—a desktop version of this puppy might see the light of day. Long live Trident?

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