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GameCube FAQ

S3 Inc.

by the NWR Staff - March 7, 2001, 7:41 pm EST

Take a look at the story behind S3TC.


What’s S3 about? What is the company’s History?

Founded in 1989, S3 Incorporated pioneered graphics acceleration with the world's first single-chip graphics accelerator, bringing new performance to the personal computer. S3 was a pioneer in bringing 3D graphics chips to desktops in 1996.The company, as it is today, began to take form on April 11, 2000 when it announced that S3 would be undergoing a joint venture with VIA, an industry leader in providing core logic chipsets. Since then, S3 has developed many other partnerships, even acquiring Diamond Multimedia. S3 ties together several of the best graphic chip design names in the industry, including Diamond, Rio & Frontpath. Recently, it signed an agreement with Sonic Blue, the division that will be handling texture compression for the Nintendo GameCube.

What is S3’s Involvement with Nintendo and the GameCube?

This is how NOA’s Howard Lincoln explained it:

"In just the past few years, the graphic improvement in videogames has been stunning. S3 will be a major force in accelerating the performance we'll achieve on [GameCube]," explained Nintendo of America's Howard Lincoln. "With their unique graphics compression technology, developers will be able to provide players with more complex and colorful graphics. Coupled with our previously announced strategic agreements with companies like IBM, Matsushita, ArtX and MoSys, incorporation of S3 technology will make [GameCube] a console without equal."

In reality, Nintendo is licensing a compression algorithm for compression textures. A compressed texture takes up less space than one that is not compressed. Using this compression all textures will take up less space in memory. A common misconception is that the compression varies. It does not. Every texture will require exactly one sixth of the space in memory that it usually does. The algorithm that decompresses the texture back into a useful form is built into the logic of the graphics chip. That is referred to as hardware based. This means that the decompression will not tax the systems performance in any noticeable way. Perhaps the most important feature is that the textures are decompressed as the graphics chip uses them. This means that they never take up full space in memory.

In short; texture compression allows the GameCube to store a vast amount of different images for painting worlds with. This will result in less “tiling” or noticeably repeating textures, and textures that aren’t nearly as blurry as they have been in the past. On chip texture compression is really one of the more exciting features about the GameCube.

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