Q.1 What is the Accelerated Graphics Port interface?
A.1 The Accelerated Graphics Port (A.G.P.) interface is a new platform bus specification that enables high performance graphics capabilities, especially 3D, on PCs at mainstream price points. This interface specification will enable 3D applications, whichnot only require sufficient information storage so that the monitor image may be refreshed, but also enough storage to support texture mapping, z-buffering and alpha blending. It will allow 3D applications to run faster and to look better on mainstream price point PCs.
Q.2 How does the Accelerated Graphics Port interface work?
A.2 The Accelerated Graphics Port interface adds new features for graphics accelerators, like dedicated pipelined access to main memory and faster transfer rates. This will provide a high bandwidth, low latency connection to system memory. The Accelerated Graphics Port interface enables the use of main memory for texturing, z-buffering, and alpha blending, providing the benefits of high performance three-dimensional graphics at mainstream PC price points.
Q.3 Who benefits from the Accelerated Graphics Port interface?
A.3 The Accelerated Graphics Port interface will enable high-performance three-dimensional graphics capabilities to users of volume-priced mainstream PCs. In addition, users of high performance platforms will see better three-dimensional graphics performance.
Q.4 If I can get three-dimensional graphics today on add-in cards for PCs, why is the Accelerated Graphics Port needed?
A.4 The Accelerated Graphics Port expands current three-dimensional capabilities to new levels of visual realism and provides high performance 3D capability to a much larger market of customers at lower incremental cost.
Q.5 Why does Intel feel the need to spearhead the Accelerated Graphics Port interface?
A.5 Intel benefits from market growth when cutting-edge capabilities are available on high volume Intel Architecture platforms. Historically, the three-dimensional market has been fragmented technically. In the interest of advancing the PC platform, Intel has taken the lead in developing this new interface specification so that the exciting capabilities of three-dimensional graphics will be available to mainstream PC users. This will benefit three-dimensional content providers by enabling a much wider market for their products.
Q.6 What is Intel's level of involvement in the Accelerated Graphics Port interface?
A.6 On the technical side, Intel has taken the lead in developing the Accelerated Graphics Port interface specification, absorbing much of the R&D costs associated with this new graphics port technology. The Accelerated Graphics Port interface specification will include the necessary electrical interfaces and bus protocol information to enable graphics component engineers to develop controllers and add-in cards for inclusion in OEM systems designed to support the Accelerated Graphics Port interface. Intel has worked in cooperation with industry leaders to ensure a quality interface specification and the rapid adoption of this new technology.
Q.7 How does the Accelerated Graphics Port interface relate to PCI, and is this an attempt to replace PCI?
A.7 PCI will continue to be the main general purpose system I/O bus. The Accelerated Graphics Port interface has been designed specifically for dedicated use by graphics controllers, and is not intended to replace PCI. PCI will migrate to faster and wider versions as the bandwidth needs of PCI I/O functions exceed the capabilities of the 133MB/s, 32-bit, 33MHz version. The Accelerated Graphics Port is designed specifically for point-to-point graphics components. It is physically separated from the PCI bus and it uses a separate connector.
Q.8 Isn't Accelerated Graphics Port a new name for Unified Memory Architecture (UMA)?
A.8. No. The goals of UMA are very different from the Accelerated Graphics Port. UMA was an attempt to move the entire frame buffer from a graphics subsystem card to main PC memory to reduce cost. The goal of the Accelerated Graphics Port interface specification is to make it possible for PCs to support high performance 3D graphics capabilities. The Accelerated Graphics Port architecture assumes that there is still dedicated graphics frame buffer memory. In the Accelerated Graphics Port interface specification, main memory is specifically used for advanced three-dimensional features, such as textures, alpha buffers, and z-buffers. This memory can be "reclaimed" by the OS and applications after being used. This eliminates the performance loss inherent in UMA which requires allocation of main memory at boot-up time, leaving less memory for the operating system. The Accelerated Graphics Port interface specification allows for dynamic allocation (and reallocation) of main memory, making it much more flexible.
Q.9 Will the Accelerated Graphics Port interface work with all of the Pentium® processor family?
A.9 It could if the required Accelerated Graphics Port support were available on Pentium® processor chip sets. However, Intel intends to incorporate Accelerated Graphics Port support in chip sets specifically designed for the Pentium® II family of processors which, due to their advanced floating point unit and faster cache algorithm, are much more suited for running three-dimensional applications. In the time frame of Accelerated Graphics Port compatible products, the Pentium II family of processors will be found in a wide variety of mainstream platforms. Intel therefore expects the industry to focus their Accelerated Graphics Port efforts on platforms containing Pentium II processors.
Q.10 Is there an industry group to promote the Accelerated Graphics Port interface? If so who are the members so far?
A.10. Yes, the A.G.P. Implementors Forum was formed to provide support and facilitate consistent adoption of the A.G.P. interface specification. Member companies include major graphics component manufacturers, as well as major PC platform OEMs worldwide. Members have access to AGP-IF developers conferences, interoperability workshops, and technical support and documentation (white papers and implementation guides). Members also receive a list of the technical/marketing/PR contacts at other member companies, and the A.G.P. product commitment list.
Q.11 How can I get more information on the Accelerated Graphics Port and related events?
A.11. A copy of the Accelerated Graphics Port (A.G.P.) Interface Specification (Rev 1.0) can be found on the A.G.P. Web site. In addition, you will find copies of all presentations given at the A.G.P. Developers Conference on 6/30-31. A direct email connection has been implemented on our Web site, which we encourage you to use for any feedback or questions you have that are not covered directly in our materials.