20 Years of Military Flight Simulations on the PC by Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson.
Flight sim guru Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson chronicles the first 30 years of computer flight sims, the software, hardware, people and the culture.
Other hardware developments in 2001 included the release of Nvidia’s Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 500 and Videologic’s KYRO II chip.
This new chip uses a new approach to rendering images. Rather than using a larger hammer, Imagination Technologies uses a sharper nail. By working smarter with new technology, they get away with greater simplicity, translating into a lower retail price.
KYRO II boards come with either 32 or 64MB of slower, less expensive SDRAM. Although this means less memory bandwidth, the streamlined rendering process requires much less bandwidth. In short, the hardware tests whether or not a polygon is rendered before it is actually drawn. This method saves the hardware from having to draw and output polys to the screen that will end up being hidden by other objects anyway. The increase in rendering efficiency is as high as 300%.
The weakness of the KYRO II generation is that it is DirectX 8 compatible, but not compliant, as the Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 500is, limiting future growth. But as a competitor for Nvidia’s GeForce 2 GPU, the new chip is an excellent solution.
The theoretical fill rate of Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 500 is lower than GeForce 2, but in practice is more than 40% higher. In Quake II HQ at 1024x768 and 32 bit color on a 1GHz Pentium III system, Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 500 is 20% faster than GF2. In current games the difference isn’t always noticeable.
Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 500 supports a wide range of new features available in the latest DirectX 8 API. Not only does it sport the same integrated 'static' transform and lighting engine as GF2, but adds a programmable vertex processor and programmable texture operations. As a result, game developers are able to include new effects previously seen only in movies. Some of these effects are nothing short of spectacular.
While this makes little difference with current titles eventually, in games where DirectX 8 features are fully exploited, games will run up to 60% faster, and with effects never seen before.
This article is ©2001 Leonard Hjalmarson and Thrustmaster ® and hosted with permission in the Flight Sim Museum. Unauthorised reproduction is forbidden.