A Look at ATI's New Technologies
At this year's Game Developers Conference, ATI unveiled a couple of new technologies, The Charisma EngineTM and Pixel TapestryTM Architecture, that should be of interest to both gamers and game developers. I recently had a chance to speak to ATI's group product manager for desktop graphics, Kevin Oerton, about the technologies. Here's what I found out.
ATI is developing these technologies in response to the market's ever growing desire for games that look better, do more, and run faster. They want game developers to be able to have the freedom to make rich, detailed, life-like game worlds without having to worry about hardware limitations, putting the focus on content creation instead.
The Charisma EngineTM and Pixel TapestryTM Architecture hope to be able to make this goal a reality, each in its own way. So what are they exactly? Before getting into the specifics of each, a brief overview is in order.
Both technologies will be offered on ATI's next generation of video cards, based on the Radeon 256. Contrary to my initial assumption, they will not require separate APIs; all features of both technologies will be accessable through Direct3D and OpenGL, using extensions in some cases. In designing the technologies, ATI consulted with game developers to make sure the architecture is easy to use and provides the features developers want. Information about programming for the architecture will be freely and completely accessable, and it should be available this summer.
The Charisma EngineTM
This half of the technology is the geometry engine, adding several key new features to the standard geometry pipeline, including hardware transformation, clipping, and lighting (TCL). However, it is not just a generic engine; it is specialized for character animation. Accordingly, it also provides hardware support for vertex skinning and 3D keyframe interpolation.
Pixel TapestryTM Architecture
Pixel Tapestry is the rendering engine, and to me is the more impressive half of the pair. Its features are:
These new technologies and the Radeon 256 looks impressive, and I'm personally looking forward to getting my hands on one of these cards. An important factor, of course, is how well it is received by consumers, and how well it fares against NVIDIA's GeForce2 and 3dfx's Voodoo5. We'll just have to wait and see how it all unfolds.
To find out more about the Charisma Engine, Pixel Tapestry, and Radeon graphics, check out ATI's site.