The Path to the Visual Connected PC Starts with
Compelling 3D and interactive full-motion video were once reserved for high-end computers
costing tens of thousands or more. Today's combination of Intel® AGPsets, such as the Intel® 440BX AGPset
and the Intel® 440GX
AGPset with the Intel Pentium II processor family is rapidly bringing lifelike 3D and
full-motion video within the reach of mainstream PC users.
It's a breakthrough innovation from Intel that promises to evolve PC architecture from
today's bandwidth-limited PCI-based systems to the power and performance of the Visual
Connected PC. The time to make it happen is now.
Your next PC design can deliver the performance needed for arcade-quality graphics,
interactive 3D reference titles, interactive video, advanced CAD/CAM solid modeling
applications, breathtaking 3D data visualization and hot new 3D VRML applications for home
Emerging 3D graphics applications impose a host of rigorous requirements on the PC
platform, including faster geometry calculations, more sophisticated rendering, and more
detailed texturing. But while the Intel Pentium II processor is well suited to handle
increased geometry rates, and the next generation of graphics controllers can support a
wide variety of rendering effects, coping with the growing size of texture maps has become
a severe problem.
One problem is the size of local video memory used by graphics controllers. Typically
this memory is in the range of 2 to 4 Mbytes. However, 3D applications that use in excess
of 20 Mbytes for a single texture map are beginning to appear. Video memory could be
expanded to accomodate these demands, but such a solution is terribly expensive and not
A second issue is the bandwidth supported by the PCI bus. Graphics controllers need to
pre-fetch texture maps from system memory into their local RAM. As texture maps have grown
in size, the PCI bus has begun to become a bottleneck. The problem is even more acute for
applications that involve full-motion video. Add to this the explosion of new high-speed
devices that attach to the PCI bus, such as Ultra DMA drives and 100 Mb/s LAN adapters,
and its easy to see how congested the PCI bus is becoming.
The Solution: AGP
Accelerated Graphics Port technology improves system performance by providing a high-speed
pathway between the PC's graphics controller and system memory. This pathway enables the
graphics controller to execute texture maps directly from system memory rather that
caching them in its limited local video memory. It also helps speed the flow of decoded
video from the CPU to the graphics controller.
The advantages are many:
- Texture maps of unlimited size, detail, and realism can be employed-see the AGP Demo for an
example of how much better 3D graphics get with AGP.
- 3D applications will also run faster when the need to pre-fetch and cache textures in
local video memory is eliminated. How much faster? Up to 12.6 times more frames per
second, according to the latest Ziff-Davis 3D WinBench* 97
- By minimizing the need for video memory, AGP helps OEMs control the costs of new PC
- Video traffic will fly seamlessly across the AGP bus to the user's screen.
- Systems will have more stability when bandwidth-intensive graphics and video traffic is
removed from the PCI bus.
And only Intel's implementation of AGP with the Intel Pentium II processor and Intel® chipsets can deliver on
these benefits in your next PC.
How to Learn More About AGP
First, take few moments to explore AGP technology in our AGP Tutorial. It
outlines everything you need to know about PCs and software applications optimized for
AGP. Hardware developers who wish to dig even deeper can download the AGP Specification and the
latest engineering revisions. Even more detailed information concerning electromechanical
implementation issues and thermal design guidelines is available in the recently updated AGP Platform Design Guide,
Then learn more about the building blocks of AGP now available from Intel, including
the Intel 440BX AGPset
and the Intel Pentium II processor
with Dual Independent Bus architecture. Only systems based on Intel's Pentium II processor
can deliver solutions optimized for AGP. If you are already designing an Intel Pentium II
processor-based system, find out about the benefits of adding AGP
capabilities to your design.
Finally, check out the AGP Implementors Forum Web site to get the latest technical
insights on AGP. With more than 130 members, the AGP
Implementors Forum is an incredible resource for companies looking to build
* Other brands and names are the property of their respective owners.