Microsoft Licenses 3-D Graphics Technology From S3 Incorporated

Microsoft Licenses 3-D Graphics Technology From S3 Incorporated

ORLANDO, Fla., March 24, 1998 — After reviewing texture compression technologies from several graphics companies, Microsoft Corp. and S3 Incorporated today announced the selection of S3’s texture compression algorithm as the preferred compression technique for the Microsoft® DirectX® APIs. Scheduled for release in DirectX 6.0, S3’s Texture Compression delivers superior image quality while compressing texture data between one-fourth to one-sixth the normally required space. Microsoft and S3 believe that texture compression will be a critical feature in 3-D graphics accelerators in 1998, since it cost-effectively increases available texture storage and read bandwidth by a factor of four to six without compromising image quality.

“We chose to incorporate S3’s technology into DirectX 6.0 because it delivered the best image quality, provided a developer-friendly implementation process and could be easily and cost-effectively implemented in hardware,” said Kevin Bachus, product manager for DirectX at Microsoft. “Incorporating S3’s algorithm into DirectX will empower content developers to better utilize the bandwidth and storage available on mainstream PCs, which will allow them to write more complex and visually compelling 3-D games.”

DirectX is a group of API technologies designed by Microsoft to make Windows® operating system-based computers an ideal platform for running and displaying applications rich in multimedia elements such as full-color graphics, video, 3-D animation and surround sound. By bringing a common set of multimedia APIs to developers, consumers benefit from seamless compatibility across devices including devices such as joysticks and sound cards with applications such as games. DirectX helps ensure that similar features provided by a number of different hardware companies are presented consistently to the application developer.

“By incorporating S3’s texture compression technology into DirectX 6.0 and endorsing just one compression method, life is greatly simplified for application developers,” said John Brothers, vice president of architecture and software at S3. “Now, textures can be compressed at author-time and shipped in compressed format. Without a common API with texture compression, incorporating this feature would be impractical. And texture compression is clearly an important feature in graphics solutions that texture from system memory using accelerated graphics port (AGP). Bus and memory speed are just half of the performance equation. The other half is to make efficient use of the bandwidth and storage that you do have.”

Limited texture storage has historically been a problem for game application developers, forcing compromises in image quality and performance. AGP is primarily targeted at increasing overall texture storage by allowing efficient access to textures in system memory. AGP theoretically quadruples the speed that data can be read from system memory vs. PCI. In combination with AGP, texture compression increases the effective bandwidth by between 16 and 24 times.

Developers Praise Microsoft’s Decision to Incorporate S3 Compression Technology in DirectX 6.0

“This is totally cool and is going to enhance the game-play experience significantly,” said Paul Finnegan, group managing director at Rage Software PLC, developers of the highly acclaimed title Incoming. “DirectX 6.0 with S3TC will enable us to double the amount of textures for near pre-rendered scenery quality and still run amazingly fast.”

“S3’s texture compression scheme is the first technology we’ve seen that takes full advantage of AGP,” said Mark Randel, president of Terminal Reality Inc. “By using this, we could easily see a performance boost of two to three times in texturing from main memory in Monster Truck Madness® 2.”

About S3 Incorporated

S3 Incorporated, founded in 1989 with headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., is the world’s largest supplier of multimedia acceleration hardware and its associated software. S3 is committed to applying its expertise in audio, video, graphics and platform acceleration to create innovative and affordable products for the home, desktop and mobile markets. The company’s vision for the future is also to bring a rich, consumer-electronics-type experience to PC users, integrating the best available consumer multimedia technologies into the mainstream PC platform.

About Microsoft Corp.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, DirectX, Windows and Monster Truck Madness are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

S3 is a registered trademark of S3 Incorporated. The S3 corporate logo is a trademark of S3 Incorporated.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Except for historical information contained herein, the matters set forth in this press release are forward-looking statements that are subject to risk and uncertainties, including the impact of competitive products and pricing and of alternative technological advances and other risks detailed from time to time in S3’s SEC reports.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. If you are interested in viewing additional information on S3, please visit the S3 Web page at (http://www.s3.com/) .

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