NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 2, 1995--The 3DO Company today unveiled its highly anticipated, next-generation M2 technology. 3DO's M2 64-bit architecture is designed to create a quantum leap in advanced CD entertainment technology. Leveraging 3DO's high-end 3-D image and sound processors and IBM and Motorola's PowerPC microprocessor, M2 technology rivals image quality and performance of workstations and the most popular arcade machines.
"It's a quantum leap for the industry in both graphics speed and quality," said Trip Hawkins, 3DO's President and CEO. "We're raising the bar again."
3DO designed the M2 architecture to deliver breakthrough processing performance and the highest quality graphics and digital video for consumer interactive entertainment software.
"The M2 polygon performance alone is phenomenal," said Hugh Martin, 3DO's Chief Operating Officer. "M2 easily beats many expensive graphics workstations and outpaces popular coin-op arcade systems. With its advanced graphics, video, and sound capabilities, M2's powerful 64-bit architecture will enable software developers to create titles that provide a whole new level of realism and engaging experiences not previously available on advanced CD entertainment systems."
Based on 10 revolutionary custom graphics, sound, and I/O processors designed by 3DO, and an IBM PowerPC 602(TM) microprocessor specially designed with 3DO interactive applications in mind, the M2 architecture processes more than one million polygons per second. Each of the multiple M2 processors is dedicated to specific tasks to optimize superior image quality and performance. These processors are supported by the powerful system resources that M2 technology provides, including a 64-bit data bus, 48 megabits of memory, and a memory subsystem capable of delivering 528 megabytes per second. MPEG-1 digital video decompression technology is also designed into the core M2 architecture for built-in VHS-quality digital video capability.
"The superior price and performance of the PowerPC 602 is enabling new classes of advanced home entertainment software," said Phil Hester, General Manager, Systems Technology and Architecture Division, IBM. "Working together with 3DO, we've defined the 602 with unique capabilities to make M2 the best possible technology for interactive entertainment applications. 3DO's 64-bit M2 system architecture will forever change the way people play, learn, and interact."
The highly integrated M2 architecture was developed from the ground up and is the result of working with the world's leading processor, graphics, and audio system designers.
"IBM and Motorola's world class manufacturing process will allow us to achieve superior performance through higher integration," said Hawkins. "With the PowerPC microprocessor and 3DO's custom M2 processors, we have a processor family that offers truly next-generation performance."
M2's revolutionary image quality and performance features will enable development of interactive entertainment software that provides an unprecedented level of realism, with richly detailed interactive worlds containing multiple, complex 3-D characters. With photorealistic images, high frame rates, VHS-quality video, and theater-quality sound, the M2 interactive software experience will be radically better than anything consumers are familiar with today.
"The M2 capabilities demonstrated today go far beyond anything currently available on the market or in development for the advanced CD entertainment market," said Martin. "Feature like Gouraud shading, filtered textures, 3-D perspective correction, and complex scenes requiring performance in the hundreds of thousands of polygons per second, will take gamers into a whole new dimension of realism and fun."
"With the first 3DO system, we delivered the very best interactive entertainment experience for the home," added Hawkins. "M2 will once again set the standard -- this time for the 64-bit advanced CD entertainment experience."
M2 technology was designed to enable software companies to provide consumers with complex, photorealistic 3-D worlds and characters and full motion digital video mixed with computer-generated graphics that move seamlessly. M2 will enable software companies to develop interactive entertainment titles that offer lifelike graphics at tremendous speeds with considerably more action than has previously been possible in interactive titles.
3DO's M2 architecture includes several key features for achieving breakthrough image quality and performance. These features, which are built into and performed by the M2 hardware, will enable software developers to easily and efficiently provide richer, more sophisticated graphic images and engaging entertainment experiences. Software designers simply apply these advanced effects to an image and the M2 technology does the rest of the work.
-- Gouraud Shading and Lighting -- M2 technology allows designers to apply a significant number of lighting effects to an object or scene. Light sources are then reflected realistically off of objects based on where the light source is in relation to the object. Gouraud shading is applied to the object to create the appropriate colors and shadows in the scene. The result is images and scenery with brilliantly curved and smooth surfaces.
-- Texture Mapping -- Texture mapping is used to apply a graphic texture to polygon-based models to give the modeled object the desired look. 3DO's M2 texture mapping capability renders polygons delivering more than 100 million pixels per second and supports a wide range of data types, including video.
-- Filtering -- Filtering is the process used to make objects and textures appear smoother and more natural by averaging and softening an image's pixel edges. Filtering creates more realistic images while using simpler geometry.
-- Mip mapping -- Mip mapping is used to provide a smooth texture appearance as an object moves closer to or farther away in a scene. Through mip mapping, the system dynamically uses different levels of texture detail based on the object's distance from the camera. The images will appear to scale more smoothly and maintain their visual clarity regardless of camera distance, yet only the original texture is needed.
-- Z-Buffer -- A two-dimensional world is described by two axes - X and Y, or horizontal and vertical. A three-dimensional world adds a third axis, Z, which allows objects to be placed anywhere within a three-dimensional space. When one object sits in front of a second object, the Z dimension tells the system where each object is relative to others.
The Z-buffer manages complex objects intersecting dynamically and enables automatic hidden surface calculations. The system automatically knows for any given visual perspective what the user will see, and therefore which polygons to render. For example, if a car drives in front of a tree, the system automatically determines that it does not need to render that portion of the tree which is hidden behind the car. M2 Z-buffering is provided in the hardware as with coin-op arcade machines and workstations, while other systems only allow for Z-buffering to occur in software. Z-buffering provides a big performance gain when using complex graphic models.
-- Perspective correction -- 3-D perspective correction takes the Z dimension into account when mapping a texture to a polygon. The M2 technology automatically modifies the textures in a scene to appear with the proper perspective, based on user interaction. This results in fewer artifacts and simpler geometry than for competing systems.
-- Transparency -- Transparency enables complex images and special effects to be built with simple geometric models. The M2 architecture also provides alpha channel support, which enables software designers to control the level of transparency in a model pixel by pixel in real time. For instance, one large polygon can be drawn and a texture can be mapped with transparency applied to appropriate pixels to create the desired effect.
-- Hardware-based MPEG-1 video decompression -- The M2 technology is designed with built-in MPEG-1 video decompression to provide VHS-quality digital video capability. In addition to using digital video decompression for playback, M2 treats decompressed video like any other type of data. This advanced technique enables designers to apply decompressed running video to an object like any other texture. With this feature, M2 hardware has the video effects capability of machines costing many thousands of dollars. Additionally, multiple streams of digital video can be incorporated in a title at one time.
Software design expertise in developing 32-bit 3DO titles is scaleable to the new M2 architecture. As part of its M2 technology strategy, 3DO has taken advantage of its current operating system and development tools to minimize the M2 development learning curve. The company leveraged and migrated many critical components of its 32-bit platform development environment to the M2 development environment, including its core operating system, enhanced with new 2-D and 3-D graphics functions to enable software companies to produce M2 titles faster and more easily than developing first titles for other new architectures.
The M2 system architecture was designed to provide 3DO hardware partners with the flexibility to produce products to meet a variety of consumer needs, including add-on upgrades for current 3DO Interactive Multiplayer customers, as well as integrated standalone M2 systems.
"3DO was first to market with a 32-bit system, and others have adopted our concept of the product," said Hawkins. "But nobody else has anything like M2."
The company expects to announce M2 hardware and software partners and specific M2 product launch plans at a later date.
Based in Redwood City, Calif., The 3DO Company (NASDAQ:THDO) develops and licenses advanced interactive technology to hardware and software companies worldwide. The company's award-winning product design, the 32-bit 3DO Interactive Multiplayer system, was created to deliver a breakthrough in interactive entertainment at an affordable price. 3DO also develops, publishes, and distributes CD-ROM software products and peripherals for the 3DO system. The current 3DO system is available worldwide from Panasonic, GoldStar, Sanyo, and Creative Labs.
Note to Editors: 3DO, the 3DO logos, and Interactive Multiplayer are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of The 3DO Company. All other brand or product names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
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