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"In general, texture compression is a method of reducing the amount of data necessary to store high-resolution texture map images."


Q8: 3dfx has also recently announced their own form of texture compression dubbed FXT1, what exactly does texture compression do? And why is it important?

In general, texture compression is a method of reducing the amount of data necessary to store high-resolution texture map images. FXT1 is a high quality texture compression algorithm which has little, if any, loss in visual quality when compared to the original texture map image.

All 3D content creators can use FXT1 texture compression as it allows them to use more and higher resolution textures in their content, without incurring the performance bottlenecks associated with uncompressed textures. When too many textures are required to render a given scene and they cannot be transferred efficiently from memory, a bandwidth bottleneck occurs which dramatically limits the fill rate performance of the 3D accelerator.

The FXT1 texture compression algorithm works by breaking each texture down into multiple 4x4 or 4x8 texel blocks. For each texel block, one of four compression algorithms is applied, with the specific algorithm chosen to yield the best possible visual quality for that specific texel block. In the case of 4x4 blocks, 64 bits are required to store the texel block, while for 4x8 blocks 128 bits are required to store the block. Regardless of the texel block size used, an effective 4 bit-per-texel storage requirement is realized. As a result, FXT1 texture compression yields an effective 8:1 compression ratio when compressing 32-bit texture artwork. The FXT1 compressed texture is then stored in memory, and is automatically decompressed by the 3D hardware accelerator when that specific compressed texture is needed for rendering.

Q9: Is 3dfx finally going to offer full AGP 4x support in their next generation product? Would it be useful?

We have not announced the specs for next product, and I will get killed if I let the cat out of the bag this close to Comdex. We have heard the cries of our fans. They want 4x AGP, 32-bit support, and large texture support.

Q10: Now letís talk about Glide. It seems that both OpenGL and Direct3D have garnered sufficient enhancements and support that there's no real reason to go with the Glide API anymore. What do you see for the future of the Glide API, do we still need it?

We are talking about that right now and will come to a decision very soon.

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