(11277 bytes) New and future 3D applications are placing ever increasing demands on a lot of your PC's hardware.  Leading 3D graphics accelerators are becoming more advanced and if you go by the sales figures, increasinly popular.  Many existing processors often can not keep up this accelerated pace, consequently, a graphics bottleneck has developed.

But AMD has come to the rescue with 3DNow! technology.
AMD leads the way to better-than-ever 3D graphics and multimedia performance for both new and existing mainstream PCs, with 3DNow! (TM) technology - a new and innovative enhancement to the x86 instruction set that breaks through 3D processing bottlenecks to enable a more productive, entertaining and realistic PC experience.

The Most Noticeable Benefits

So, What's the Problem Here?
In recent months, 3D has come to the forefront in the world of personal computing. New graphics, video and gaming technologies have evolved to make 3D the fastest growing market segment in the PC industry and it is expected to double in size in the next two years. While 3D gaming software has typically comprised the first wave of applications to incorporate leading edge visual effects, its development has created the demand for advanced multimedia technology in other PC application areas, including edutainment, business and personal productivity (word processing - desktop publishing, spreadsheet modeling, presentation graphics), VRML and 3D on the Internet, photo image manipulation, software enabled MPEG2- DVD playback, and  voice recognition just for starters...

These new 3D applications require powerful hardware support. However, many of today's processors create a bottleneck in the critical graphics pipeline. A processor that's bogged down in 3D modeling at the beginning of the graphics pipeline simply can't get the data required to the graphics accelerator fast enough. And as graphics accelerators get even better at rendering 3D images for a growing number of new 3D applications, the bottleneck at the processor will only get bigger.

3DNow -The Solution
By improving the processor's ability to handle floating-point calculations, 3DNow! technology closes the growing performance gap between processor and graphics accelerator performance -- and eliminates the bottleneck at the beginning of the graphics pipeline. This clears the way for dramatically improved 3D and multimedia performance

To understand the power of 3DNow! technology, it helps to understand just what goes on in the graphics pipeline, which consists of four stages.

  1. Physics --The CPU performs floating-point-intensive physics calculations to create simulations of the real world and the objects in it.
  2. Geometry -- Next, the CPU transforms mathematical representations of objects into three-dimensional representations, using floating point intensive 3D geometry.
  3. Setup -- The CPU starts the process of creating the perspective required for a 3D view, and the graphics accelerator completes it.
  4. Rendering -- Finally, the graphics accelerator applies realistic textures to computer-generated objects, using per-pixel calculations of color, shadow, and position.

What 3DNow! Does
3DNow! provide 21 new instructions hard coded into the chip that provides support for SIMD ( single instruction multiple data ) support for floating point and integer operations so prevalent in today's 3D graphics intensive applications and also specific SIMD integer instructions to enhance MPEG and MPEG2 decoding software.
New PREFETCH instructions eliminate extra data rerieval time and Fast Entry/Exit Multimedia State instructions that reduce the switching times between MMX & X87 code.   It also will provide open standard support of IEEE 754 single precision data type.

Processor Microarchitecture

3DNow! technology -- MMX (TM) Technology Relationship

Coming Soon - DirectX 6.0  
The next generation of Microsoft's multimedia APIs, will feature a number of new leading-edge multimedia capabilities, including additional Direct 3D features and optimizations for 3DNow! technology. The DirectX 6.0 beta is available now, and Microsoft has announced the final version will be made available in July, 1998.

An open, multi-platform alternative API for 3D graphics pioneered by Silicon Graphics is now being optimized for 3DNow! technology. Already an industry standard for high-end 3D workstations, OpenGL is becoming popular with many game developers. The OpenGL 1.2 SDK, which will include 3DNow! technology optimizations, is expected to be available in June, 1998.

What it all boils down to...
3DNow! is a truly real world multimedia enhancment for the home and SOHO PC user.   But it's future will depend on both the retail buyer and the program developers.   For a lack of response by either may cause the the other to falter as well and this is only something time will tell.

Aug, 1998
1998/99 2000 MediaTek