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Whitney, Intel's 810 Chipset - Part I

The Graphics Of I810

Most of us believed that 'Whitney' would be 'ZX plus i740', but this is certainly not the case. I've already explained the hub architecture and now I'll try and say some words about the 2D/3D graphics part. We were told that i810 is actually equipped with the core of Intel's upcoming low/mid end graphics chip i752, the long overdue successor of i740. There's not much that I can tell you about this chip, except that it's also using a dual rendering pipeline and that its performance will be somewhere around TNT. This is all not really exciting, but it means that i810 is the first chipset with integrated 2D/3D-accelerator that has two rendering pipelines and could thus offer some pretty decent 3D-performance. Hold it, I am not saying that any 3D-gamer will be satisfied by this chipset, but people who want a low-cost system don't have to refrain from the occasional 3D-games anymore. We are currently testing i810-motherboards in our Californian lab, and the 3D-performance we see is surprisingly good.

Another component of i752, which is included into the i810, is hardware motion compensation for MPEG2-decoding, so that i810 should also be good at playing DVDs.

The strongest performance inhibitor of the i752-core in i810 is certainly the memory bandwidth. i810 is using main memory for the frame, texture and Z-buffer, unless the Z-buffer can take advantage of the external display cache. Local memory on a graphics card can be accessed by the 3D-chip at a much higher bandwidth than the 800 Mb/s of the PC100 SDRAM main memory of i810. This is why you will not be able to conclude that i752 will be as 'slow' as the graphics engine of i810.

At boot up the graphics controller of i810 reserves 1 MB of main memory for the basic display buffer. As soon as the GUI-operating system runs, the graphics controller requires 4 MB for frame buffer, 2 MB of command buffer and 4 MB of Z-buffer, unless the system is equipped with the 4 MB of external display cache for this purpose. This means that either 7 or 11 MB of main memory are used by the integrated graphics, and the highest 3D-resolution will be 1024x768.