ATI Technolgies has unveiled Truform, a new rendering technology developed for future generations of graphics processors, which the company says will help to deliver the smoothest, most natural 3D images ever seen on both existing and next-generation 3D games and personal computers. “Despite recent improvements in the graphical quality of computer games, for example, most 3D objects – especially characters – still do not appear very lifelike,” said Toshi Okumura, senior product manager, desktop marketing, ATI Technologies. “They still tend to look like a collection of geometric blocks with textures painted on them, largely because of limited bus and memory bandwidth. “Without compromising the overall performance of current PC technologies or compatibility with existing 3D games, Truform breaks through these challenges to deliver the smoothest and most natural images ever seen on a PC.” The new technology employs N-Patches (also known as PN Triangles) – a new type of higher order surface composed of curved rather than flat triangles that was developed by ATI and is supported in Microsoft’s DirectX 8.0 and OpenGL technologies. This allows for surfaces to be generated entirely within the graphics processor, without requiring significant changes to existing 3D artwork that is composed of flat triangles. This means that the technology is easy for software developers to implement and avoids breaking compatibility with older graphics processors. “Truform also allows for a higher level of scalability, meaning the number of triangles or polygons in a 3D image can be varied according to the capabilities of the installed graphics hardware,” explains Okumura. “Software developers usually create low triangle count models so that their games can run well on low-end PCs, which make up the vast majority of products used today by consumers. “Truform can take these 3D models with low polygon counts and generate smooth, highly detailed images, affording most users a greatly enhanced visual experience with no compromise in performance or compatibility.” According to ATI, Truform technology increases the memory bandwidth available to the GPU (graphics processing unit) by converting 3D images with low polygon counts to smoother, high polygon count versions in the graphics chip – a process known as tessellation. Truform also uses advanced N-Patch lighting techniques to provide 3D objects with highly detailed lighting effects. This, says ATI, greatly enhances the visual quality of images by providing realistic highlights on the surfaces of curved objects .