Tim Sweeney heeft op de Unreal Tech Page een update gepost waarin hij wat weglult over de gevolgen van de nieuwe super snelle 3D accelerators en 3D engines voor bedrijven zoals SGI en Intergraph. Videoplankjes van 150 dollar racen inmiddels SGI renderbakken voorbij als het op real-time rendering aan komt. Hetzelfde geldt voor 3D engines, waarbij Tim het voorbeeld noemt van architecten die de Unreal engine gebruiken voor real-time walkthroughs. Hier heb je z'n conclusie (het complete verhaal lees je hier):
The result is that high-volume general-purpose hardware and software is quickly gaining the lead in absolute performance. This trend will only accelerate as the PC market becomes larger and the R&D investments grow. The ramifications are:
Specialized software and hardware loses out to general-purpose. The company that focuses on generality (for example, a CPU, or a 2D+3D graphics accelerator, or a general-purpose game engine) has the expectation of higher sales, and can make so much more of an R&D investment that special-purpose solutions can't compete (for example, 3D-only accelerators, or a once-off engine powering a single game).
Volume and increasing R&D investment enable 3dfx and NVidia to sell millions of $150 graphics cards that outperform SGI's $50,000 solution which sells 1000 units. That has the effect of crushing SGI's business model, even though companies like 3dfx aren't even consciously trying to compete with SGI.
When a company like Epic or id Software builds a 3D engine, we do it with the expectation of it powering games that sell a few million copies, between our games and licensee projects. We make money from each one, and that realization drives investment in making more and better tools. This gives our engines a price, performance, and feature advantage over "in-house" engines made specifically for one game, and over less-capable engines designed for niche markets. We amortize our R&D investment over ~10X more units sold. This licensing model has already proven successful with mainstream game developers, but now it's starting to overflow into non-game markets too. We have this great 3D engine, why not use it for your architectural walkthrough?
As a result of widespread interest, thriving ecosystems develop around successful general-purpose products. For example, there are hundreds of web sites dedicated to 3dfx hardware, and lots of developers optimizing their games for 3dfx. There are many hundreds of web sites covering Unreal and licensee projects; thousands of kickass aspiring level designers building maps and making them available online; many licensees building games; and lots of other cool projects that tie into the engine, such as mods and TC's, and the research projects like Notre Dame. The community has a multiplicative effect on growing the platform.
Where we go from here
When you look at the big picture, what's happening now with 3D graphics on the PC is just the tip of the iceberg. In the past, we've been limited to the realm of hardcore gamers, but now 3D acceleration is becoming much more mainstream, and 3D engines are becoming recognized as a viable development tool for a wide range of projects. The coming years will be interesting.