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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

The Convolution Power Behind Sun's SAGE Video-rate Anti-aliasing

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The Convolution Power Behind Sun's SAGE Video-rate Anti-aliasing

by Bary Mazor

October 2002

In the demanding high-end visual computing markets where complex graphics and sophisticated imaging so often meet-scientific, medical, industrial and military-Sun Microsystems' new multi-chip hardware rendering architecture known as "SAGE" (Scalable, Advanced Graphics Environment) has been the focus of substantial attention.

That's not surprising. Efforts to extend imaging capabilities via parallel arrays of rendering chips that work as a single high-performance pipeline have been detailed, and approaches debated, throughout the history of this magazine.

Now, as already demonstrated in prototype hardware, a single SAGE board is capable of rendering more than 80 million fully lit, textured, anti-aliased triangles per second. The fast numbers are not, in themselves, the attention-grabber, though; it's the fact that the architecture brings high-end quality anti-aliasing filters to video rate hardware-a long-sought first.

SAGE boards contain four parallel rendering sub-units and support up to two output channels, and they can be tiled together for higher res, fill-rates, and general performance.

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