Multimedia acceleration, horses for courses

There is still room for Australian entrepreneurs to shape the PC market here, both in retail and distribution, according to Bill Schroeder, CEO of Diamond Multimedia.

"Even though the penetration of PCs per capita in Australia is about the same as the US, my impression is the channels and the market have not developed to the same level," he said.

Schroeder visited Australia recently, and spoke to ARN about the multimedia acceleration market.

"In PC-centric multimedia, the hottest areas are in 3D graphics and 3D positional audio for the gaming market," he said. "Look at Sony Playstation, Sega and Nintendo, where there has been an incredible amount of money that has gone into TV-centric gaming.

"But because of the increasing power of the PC platform, equipped with 3D graphics accelerator and 3D positional audio accelerator, it is actually now more powerful than the games consoles that are centred on the TV."

Schroeder said that a good indication is that the games companies are coming out with games for the PC, as opposed to the console, first.

"Mum and Dad would much rather spend money getting Junior on to the PC as opposed to the TV," he told ARN. "So we see the PC platform as being a very attractive opportunity."

Although not yet commercially viable, Diamond is equipping its graphics accelerators to support DVD because of the very close relationship between displaying graphics on a screen and displaying video on a screen, he said.

"The low-cost way to implement that is to subsume the DVD functions into the graphics accelerator, and use the CPU to do the decoding and decompression functions. So that's what our focus is - to equip our graphics accelerators to do that."

Not just gaming

Competition in multimedia acceleration is intense, and according to Andrew Tilly, we shouldn't get lost in the battle for the "bleeding edge of the gaming market".

Tilly, managing director of Matrox distributor Focal Point, said that 70 per cent of its graphics cards are supplied to system assemblers, with a large portion being for business machines. He claimed that the Matrox Millennium G200 graphics card has received very good reviews for business applications, while providing performance that even serious gamers would be happy with.

Schroeder described Diamond's mission as being a supplier of leading edge products to enable system integrators to fashion them to- gether in a way that makes sense for their target markets.