Graphics Hardware

Michael Frank Deering: Graphics Hardware Projects

Below is a list of the commercial 3D graphics accelerators and other graphics hardware products or components that I was the architect of, or the consulting architect of. What is a consulting architect? I made up the term to describe the situations in which someone else was the main architect (usually Mike Lavelle), but in which major parts of the architecture and algorithms were inspired by my previous architectures and/or ones in which I was directly in the design or simulation of some pieces. While the list is presented in reverse chronological order, for the 3D graphics accelerators, the comments about each will describe it in part relative to its predecessor, so if you are going read all of them you might want to start with the older at the bottom and work your way up.

Sun: Zulu/Sage/XVR-4000

The Sun XVR-4000 was my last 3D graphics accelerator commercially released by Sun. It still has the highest quality real-time full-screen anti-aliasing of any real-time graphics system ever shipped. It contained 4 MAJC processors, and 32 3DRAM-64 memories.

Zulu/Sage/XVR-4000

Sun: FFB3/XVR-1000

The Sun XVR-1000 was a medium end system that I was a consulting architect on. It contained 1 MAJC processor, and 8 3DRAM-64 memories.

FFB3/XVR-1000

Sun: 3DRAM-64

3DRAM-64 was the second generation custom developed 3D graphics DRAM, and was used in the XVR-1000 and XVR-4000 products above. Both the first and second generation 3DRAM are described in the link below.

3DRAM

Sun: UltraJava/Cafe/MAJC

This was a microprocessor project developed at Sun for uses beyond 3D graphics accelerators, but it was used for that too, in the two Sun 3D accelerators above.

MAJC

Sun: AFB/Elite3D

The Sun Elite3D was my third 3D graphics accelerator commercially released by Sun. It used 3DRAM, and supported geometry decompression in hardware.

AFB/Elite3D

Sun: Compressed Geometry

This is a  hardware technology developed to decompress just in time while rendering compressed geometry. It is also a software technology.

Compressed Geometry

Sun: FFB1/FFB2/Creator3D

The Sun Creator3D was a medium end system that I was a consulting Architect on. It was the first product to use 3DRAM.

FFB1/FFB2/Creator3D

Sun: FBRAM/3DRAM

3DRAM was the first generation custom developed 3D graphics DRAM, and was used in the Creator3D and Elite3D products above. Both the first and second generation 3DRAM are described in the link below.

3DRAM

Sun: Leo/ZX

The Sun ZX was my second 3D graphics accelerator commercially released by Sun. For the time, it was unique in that almost all the functionality was contained in a small number of custom chips – about the only standard chips used DRAMs (and I was to fix that next, see 3DRAM).

Leo/ZX

Sun: Hawk/GT

The Sun GT was my first 3D graphics accelerator commercially released by Sun. For the time, it was unique in a medium end accelerator for supporting double buffered 24-bit color, square pixel stereo, and last but not least, 3 pixel wide high quality antialiased lines.

Hawk/GT

Applicon/Schlumberger: Triangle Processor & Normal Vector Shader

The Applicon / Schlumberger Triangle processor was my first major commercial 3D accelerator design. While the first (and most important) custom chip for the system had been successfully fabed and was fully functional at the time Applicon decided to exit the custom hardware business, the system never shipped commercially.

Triangle Processor & Normal Vector Shader

Benson/Schlumberger: Single Pass Four Color Electrostatic Plotter

This was the industry’s first single pass wide-body electrostatic color plotter (Versatec was multi-pass at the time). I was a consulting architect on the hardware rasterizer; the challenge was to sort and render the graphics input as fast as the hardware could print. This product did ship commercially.

Color Electrostatic Plotter

Benson/Schlumberger: High-Rez Video Copy Ink-Jet Printer

Using an OEM’ed early high quality ink-jet printer, I was the architect of a microcoded graphics engine (AMD 29116 based) that would take scan lines from another section that would digitize analog video data from high resolution workstation and use a high quality color dithering algorithm to print the video.

Video Copy Ink-Jet Printer

Fairchild/Schlumberger: Video Stream Processing (VSP) chip set

I was the architect for a series of stream processing IC’s to perform various dedicated imaging functions: Medium Filter, Frame Buffer, Dithering, Convolution, etc. The Medium Filtering chip was successfully fabed and fully functional; several of the other chips were at various stages of design completion when all projects were put on hold while Schlumberger was unsuccessfully attempting to sell Fairchild to Fujitsu. (National Semiconductor later bought most of Fairchild).

Video Stream Processing