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Stellar Semiconductors -- 3D Graphics Processors
 
Founded: Jan 1993
Status: Acquired by Broadcom 3/00
Issue(s): 2/98
www.stellarsemi.com
2355 Oakland Rd., Ste. 1
San Jose, CA 95131
Tel: 408-955-9663
Fax: 408-955-9671

Stellar, formerly Reality Simulation Systems (RSSI), was founded in 1993, at RPI's Incubator facility, to develop very high performance, cost-effective 3D graphics processors and related technology for the interactive electronic entertainment market. Seed financing was raised in Jan. '95. First round VC financing of $4 million was raised from Sky Capital in March, '97. The company is closing second round financing now. Stellar has 23 employees.

Sandeep said that in Stellar's view most of the 30+ 3D companies are merely implementing an existing age-old 3D architecture that has its roots in military, CAD and simulation systems. While most companies struggle to squeeze performance out of this architecture, they haven't even begun to grapple with the bandwidth and memory issues required in modern day, cost sensitive PC and settop 3D systems. High resolutions and large texture maps will place unprecedented demands on memory size and bandwidth. Stellar claims that it is one of the few companies to recognize this problem and to break from traditional architectures.

Stellar has developed a unique 3D architecture known as PixelSquirt™, which offers several improvements over the traditional methods of 3D rendering. The architecture addresses the bandwidth and memory requirements necessary to achieve visual realism for 3D at resolutions of 1024x768 and higher. The architecture achieves high performance, high resolution and high quality/realism. Although few details are available, due to pending patents, Sandeep said that the architecture does not use a Z-buffer, has a real-time data-flow and uses half the gates of alternative solutions. The architecture was developed 4 years ago and was implemented at the board level 3 years ago.

The first chip, AquilaPX, will be announced in March. AquilaPX is a 2D/3D/video chip, which provides high-performance 3D, 2D and video and simultaneous NTSC/PAL TV output. The device can deliver 100Mpixels/sec, has a floating point set-up engine, a 4K texture cache, a 230MHz RAMDAC, and a non-linear 3-line flicker filter for TV output. AquilaPX can support 1024x768x16 resolution with a 1MB texture buffer in a 4MB configuration. The follow-on device, TEX, is a 3D only chip that will achieve 250Mpixels/sec and incorporates many advanced 3D features such as anisotropic texturing. TEX will work in conjunction with any existing 2D graphics accelerator. The 3D cores from both devices are also available for licensing.

Microsoft recognized the need for a new architecture and created Talisman, an architecture that other companies are implementing. However Sandeep said that Talisman, in its current form, is unwieldy and expensive to implement. Stellar's architecture is different, yet compatible with Talisman at the driver level. Videologic/NEC's Power VR and Oak's Warp5 also depart from traditional architectures in recognition of the magnitude of the upcoming memory and bandwidth problems. Undisclosed Asian foundries have been selected. Reps. have been signed in Northern California, Colorado, Texas, and the Southeastern USA. Asian reps. contracts are in negotiation.

Sandeep Gupta, CEO
Mike Lewis, CTO
Edwin Hall, dir. of mktg.



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