Silicon, Going Vertical?
FS: When we first spoke back in August, Petri told us that he expected first silicon in December or January. Do you have silicon yet?
Shane: Unfortunately not, we have run into similar problems as our competitors with large silicon designs. Although our design is very efficient in terms of size, handling a design of this scale is a challenge for even the best tools in the industry. Honestly the team underestimated some of the tasks in dealing with an architecture this complex when it came to some of the final steps. We have now solved the problem we had late last year and are well underway towards first silicon.
The fact is the company has been talking about this revolutionary project called Glaze for around two years, and from time to time got more than a little carried away with the hype gun. The common phrases that are usually attached to Bitboys are things like, "kids, dreamers, they are shooting too high, they plain don't understand 'the system', cool architecture but impossible, etc." However the team is fully aware that going forward, we will earn our respect and achieve success by our actions and execution, not words or open commitments. We do have some major hurdles that I see before us, but we also have a very talented team that is busting their backsides 7 days a week until we do win. When you believe in something, I mean truly believe you will fight passionately for it until you are successful, regardless of external factors or what people may say. We believe.
FS: Have the specifications changed from the ones listed in your August 1999 press release? The original 150MHz core speed seems a bit conservative. Have you been able to obtain higher speed parts?
Shane: The 150 MHz is in line with the other chips coming out this year, considering that we don't really need much more clock frequency as we have an eight-texel pipeline instead of a two-texel pipeline like the upcoming Voodoo5 or the four-texel engine of the GeForce products. Running an eight-texel pipeline at 150 MHz is like running a two-texel pipeline like Voodoo5 at 600 MHz!
FS: Are you currently talking to any video card manufacturers? Have you thought about adopting a vertical model a la ATI, 3dfx or Matrox? What are your plans for production and distribution?
Shane: We are in discussions with several board manufacturers to market our products. Actually we will be using a fairly clean model of distribution by focusing initially on a limited number of partners and really enabling them to succeed in the market. As for the much debated and now much in vogue vertical model, I think we have seen some very mixed results that most likely indicate good Vs bad management rather than just good Vs bad model alone.
I personally do not think that an aggressive R&D 3D silicon company can innovate at the rate the market demands with the gross overhead some companies have today. Bitboys will do what we believe we are the best in the industry at, which is innovating 3D architectures. There are some very good companies out there that can perform the other functions of taking a product to the end-user far better and more efficient than us.
FS: How are your OpenGL and D3D drivers coming along? Will support for open-source Glide be included? Has your hardware simulator PCIBuilder program allowed you to develop the hardware and software concurrently?
Petri: We currently have a team working on Windows, Linux, OpenGL and DirectX drivers. They have been using our PCIBuilder for a while with good results. We intend to add a second team shortly to work on the drivers as well.
We will probably not ourselves support Glide drivers and other lesser or dying APIs. Perhaps a third party will be interested in doing drivers for Glide, but all of our new software that is currently being released is for DirectX and OpenGL only.