The campaign to free Blender's sources has officially started. 100,000 Euro are needed in order Blender to become open source and be the first truly powerful 3D rendering package for the OSS community. If you can spare some money this weekend, help this great application get freed.
"Silicon Graphics (SGI) and a group of other major players in the computer graphics industry have released the latest specification for the OpenGL application programming interface, OpenGL 1.4. The new version includes a number of improvements designed to better take advantage of the latest 3D graphics hardware." The news story is at ZDNews, but get the whole picture at OpenGL.org.
This is not exactly OS news, but they are definately interesting geek news. A lot of things have been said about Matrox Parhelia's inability to beat the GeForce4 Ti or the Radeon 8500 in pure FPS, however, also a lot have been said that the point of Parhelia is to offer some advanced 3D features and great rendering quality. This great quality and advanced features (like displacement mapping) can be seen in the first 12 screenshots of the Imperium Galactica III: Genesis web site. This game is the first to be released that it has been optimized for the Parhelia. Enjoy the view.
Microsoft DirectX 8.1b is the latest version of the DirectX technology, an important and significant part of the Windows operating systems. This version of DirectX can replace the all previous released versions of DirectX. It includes several critical fixes for Direct3D and DirectShow components. In related news, industry sources have confirmed that Microsoft's DirectX 9 is likely to arrive in October, quite a while later than ATI's R300 Nvidia-buster.
"OpenGL 2.0 timing: Worth fighting over? 3DLabs thinks so. And is Nvidia's Cg an open standard or a proprietary grab for control of graphics development?" Read the story at ExtremeTech. "Justified pride or proud parent syndrome? Marketing VP Dan Wood tells Dave Salvator how and why Parhelia will move 3D gaming to a whole new level." Read the story at ExtremeTech.
nVidia Corporation, today introduced the Cg Language Specification - C for Graphics. Cg is a high level programming language that enables content developers to create cinematic-quality real-time graphics easier and faster. Developed in close collaboration with Microsoft Corporation, Cg gives developers a new level of abstraction, removing the need for them to program directly to the graphics hardware. The common, familiar C-like syntax enables rapid development of stunning, real-time shaders and visual effects for graphics platforms, and is compatible with Microsoft's recently announced High Level Shading Language for DirectX 9.0.
On this Chinese website you can already see some pictures of Matrox' new graphics chip code-named "Parhelia" in action. An English translation of another russian source can be found here. Note this information was meant to be under NDA until the 14th of May. The pictures at this webpage show a three monitor display setup, demonstrating Quake3 Arena, a flight simulator and Adobe Photoshop. The text talks about a 20GB/s memory bandwidth, other sources indicate 19GB/s! An announcement by Matrox is expected on the 14th of May.
There have been rumours spreading regarding a new graphics chip being developed at Matrox, which will put them at the forefront of State-of-the-Art 3D graphics technology once again. Recently this specs sheet leaked out on Matrox' website, according to TechNation. Interestingly Ben Hermans, the manager of the AmigaOS4 project stated, that they have seen this new technology at work and it severely outperforms nVidia's current top offerings. It is expected it will still take around two months before "G1000 graphic card" solutions become available to the general public. My Take: Together with ATI they might be able to finally break down the current anti-competitive nature of the graphics industry, regarding alternative OS driver support.
Dave Kirk, Nvidia's chief scientist, was in London recently as part of a European tour. ZDNet UK caught up with him to talk about the future of PC and console graphics, whether they will ever really match mainstream movie quality, and how the company will maintain the performance curve. The interview is indeed interesting and it can be found at ZDNews.
"The shareholders and directors of NaN Holding BV, owners of Blender, have decided to terminate all activities of NaN Technologies BV and apply for its bankruptcy at the Amsterdam court. It means that effective today, all technology development and website activities around Blender will be frozen." Exactly one year ago NaN had exactly the same problem, but they managed to find venture capitals who believed in the company. A year later, NaN is on the same situation again, and this time it seems they are going down for good.
"For many years now, the question "Which should I use: Direct3D or OpenGL?" has elicited heated arguments. Most of the things said do very little to help you decide which API you should use. There are fanatics on both sides; some people will tell you that OpenGL is the only way to go, and others will swear by Direct3D. Others will talk about how they have used both, and that you should do the same and decide which you like better, but for someone starting out, that's not much help either. The point is, it can be a tough decision to make, and I am writing this article to help you do it. My specialty is primarily in Win32 programming, so that will be my focus. No need to fear though, I discuss other platforms as well." Read the rest of the article at GameDev.
"OpenGL and DirectX represent a schism in the graphics world, one that has hampered development at times, and fostered it at others. There are new developments coming, and the schism appears to be closing somewhat." Read the rest of the report at Tom's Hardware.
Not directly operating system news, but nevertheless, interesting news for all us geeks. So, Carmack says that GeForce4-MX is not a good buy for Doom3: "Nvidia has really made a mess of the naming conventions here. I always thought it was bad enough that GF2 was just a speed bumped GF1, while GF3 had significant architectural improvements over GF2. I expected GF4 to be the speed bumped GF3, but calling the NV17 GF4-MX really sucks. GF4-MX will still run Doom properly, but it will be using the NV10 codepath with only two texture units and no vertex shaders. A GF3 or 8500 will be much better performers. The GF4-MX may still be the card of choice for many people depending on pricing, especially considering that many games won't use four textures and vertex programs, but damn, I wish they had named it something else."
"ST Microelectronics Inc. has decided to put its graphics operations up for sale, placing the future of the Kyro graphics accelerator in limbo. The announcement comes after the troubled graphics accelerator, designed by PowerVR Technologies, itself a division of the U.K.'s Imagination Technoogies PLC, missed several major milestones that company executives outlined in an exclusive interview last June." Read the rest of the report at ExtremeTech. Our Take: With 3Dfx long gone, Matrox & 3DLabs already out of the 3D gaming market and SiS, VIA, Intel and Trident not been able to produce fast 3D chipsets, the ball is now only between the duopoly of ATi and (mainly) nVidia. I wish good luck to ATi, as I just can't handle yet another monopoly in the tech world. I want choice, I need diversity.
Today nVidia launches two new graphics chips and 3 new cards for each, making it six new products. While the GeForce4 Ti series of cards will be using the new high-end chip with the code name 'NV25', the GeForce4 MX value series (the chip used in the new PowerMacs) will be based on nVidia's new low-cost (and comperatively much slower) solution 'NV17'. Get the rest of the scoop & benchmarks at Tom's Hardware. On Monday both ATi and nVidia launched new versions of the ATi Radeon 8500 and the GeForce3 Ti-200 respectively, with 128 MB of RAM. Benchmarks showed that more RAM did not bring more speed and that such a purchase is not justifiable until the new games have such requirements. Update: Anandtech has some interesting benchmarks.
From Andrenaline Vault: nVidia introduced today the nForce 415-D processor set. The nForce 415-D combines the nForce’s Media and Communications Processor with a new System Platform Processor. The nForce SPP features TwinBank, a 128-bit memory controller architecture providing up to 4.2GB per second of system memory bandwidth; a dynamic adaptive speculative pre-processor for boosting CPU performance; a singlestep memory arbiter for memory efficiency; and a 4X accelerated graphics port for external GPU expansion. The nForce MCP also integrates an audio processing unit with a Dolby Digital 5.1 real-time encoder; StreamThru, enhanced data streaming technology, and a communications suite including support for HomePNA 2.0, 10/100 Ethernet and USB.
"nVidia Corp. will announce its next-generation desktop graphics chip, which may be known as the GeForce4, in early February. Several reports on the capabilities of the NV25 have already been published, most believing the chip will feature six pixel processing pipelines versus the four used by the GeForce3. The reports also suggest that the NV25 will feature significantly higher clock rates, faster memory interfaces, and improved antialiasing capabilities. The Nvidia spokesman declined to comment on any of the features of the new chip." Read the whole story at ExtremeTech.
Exactly four years after the release of Allegro 3.0 for DOS, the team announced the release of a new major version, Allegro 4.0. This release is a very important step in Allegro's development; 4.0 officially brings multi-platform support and it is now very stable. Allegro is a game library distributed freely, supporting the following platforms: DOS, Unix (Linux, FreeBSD, Irix, Solaris), Windows, and BeOS (MacOS and QNX ports are in alpha stage).
Slashdot reported that "3DLabs has posted a series of white papers on OpenGL 2.0 covering topics such as improving parallelism, timing control, minimizing data movement programmable pixel pack and unpack and (most notably) a proposal for a hardware independent shading language."
DirectX is the multimedia system foundation for Windows operating systems. This latest version of DirectX (released very recently) offers updated graphics, faster frame rates, and support for massive multiplayer games. It also offers more immersive audio when running and displaying programs rich in multimedia elements, such as full-color graphics, video, 3D animation, and surround sound. The Windows2000 binary is 7.6 MB while for Windows98/98SE/ME, the download weighs 11.5 MB. Users of Windows XP do not need to install DirectX 8.1 as it is already included, while Windows95 is not supported at all anymore.