Graphics chip and card maker
ATI Technologies Inc. today announced that more than 100 games currently in development utilize technology specific to the company’s graphics hardware, with more than 25 already out that do so as well. Some of the games mentioned in ATI’s statement are expected to be headed to the Macintosh, as well.
Specifically, ATI is talking about Smartshader, Smoothvision, and Truform — technologies the company has vaunted as part of its Radeon 7500 and 8500 architecture. These technologies are available for the Macintosh in various forms, including high-end PowerBooks, configure-to-order Power Mac G4s, and in add-in AGP-based retail cards available from mail-order resellers and stores.
Smartshader is ATI’s own marketing buzzword for the programmable pixel-shading technology that’s built into the high-end Radeon architecture. Smoothvision allows some Radeon systems to provide full scene anti-aliasing, which has the effect of smoothing jagged lines on the edges of polygonal surfaces, creating a more blended and natural looking scene. Truform helps to produce smoother “higher order” polygonal surfaces inside the Radeon GPU itself, without adding to the CPU’s load. These features are already enabled on the Mac thanks to recent enhancements to ATI’s driver set, and in Truform’s case, have already been demonstrated on the Mac in a few shipping products: Pangea Software’s 2001 release Otto Matic, and Aspyr’s Mac version of Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
ATI noted that these technologies are also being supported by leading PC game developers like BioWare Corp., Fox Interactive, Gearbox Software, Id Software, Lionhead Studios, LucasArts Entertainment Corp., Raven Software, Remedy Entertainment, and more. Many of these developers have seen their products converted to the Mac in the past, or have deals presently in the works.
One of this year’s featured attractions at E3 is Id Software and Activision’s official debut of Doom III. An early development version of the engine that powers that game was shown off by Id Software co-owner and technical director John Carmack at Macworld Expo Tokyo in 2001 — oddly enough, to demonstrate Nvidia Corp.’s rival GeForce3 technology.
Carmack, who has compared GeForce3 and Radeon 8500 technology in the past, said that ATI’s Radeon 8500 architecture provides increased internal precision, making it possible to generate quality improvement in high dynamic range scenes. “The Radeon 8500 has far and away the most flexible pixel shading pipeline of current boards, allowing me to do in one pass what requires two or three passes on competitor’s boards,” said Carmack.
ATI also drew praise from Digital Extremes lead programmer Steve Sinclair, who’s working on Unreal Tournament 2003. While UT2003 hasn’t yet been announced for the Mac, its predecessor is one of Infogrames subsidiary MacSoft’s biggest hits, so many Mac users presume a Mac version will be released as well.
Sinclair said that Unreal Tournament 2003 will “once again be one of the most graphically gorgeous games on the market,” thanks in part to ATI’s technology. “ATI produces the most programmable mainstream graphics card yet and the pixel shader support is incredible,” said Sinclair.
E3 runs through the end of the week at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, Calif.