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We have seen some extreme innovations in the 3D graphics field driven by companies like NVIDIA Corporation and ATI Technologies within the last four years. Approximately three years ago major mobile and graphics firms started to talk seriously about high-quality 3D in mobile phones and PDAs, though, there were no solid and widely-acceptable platforms on the horizon. However, the times may change, as Microsoft is set to bring the DirectX into PDAs, according to a report at The Register.

Microsoft expressed intention to boost the multimedia performance of the next-generation PDAs so tangibly that some analysts expect DirectX 8-class features to be supported by the next-generation of personal digital assistants.

According to the report, the new API for mobile devices will include such DirectX components like DirectX - DirectDraw for 2D, Direct3D and DirectShow for camera and video digitization support. This proves that Microsoft is taking the market of games and multimedia for handheld applications very seriously and would like to add those important features into its Pocket PC platform.

We told you about the first ever PDA with 4” screen and 480x640 resolution coming out from Toshiba this year. As we mentioned, there are no applications to take advantage of VGA resolution of this screen, but with Microsoft’s serious plans to intensify the development of Pocket PC hardware and software, I firmly expect to see some actual applications for high-performance PDAs to come out already in the second half of 2004 – right after Intel launches its Bulverde microprocessor and platform.

The market is currently looking forward in ATI’s and NVIDIA’s direction for advanced graphics processor supporting a lot of modern capabilities, but being intended strictly for PDA market.

In general, we should not expect a chip comparable with desktop GPUs in terms of capabilities or performance. Just like with CPUs for handhelds, the graphics processor  will support only a limited set of features mostly needed to optimize the content development process rather than bring a pure revolution into the field. Surely, the next-generation Pocket PC applications will pack more exciting multimedia options, but they will hardly be on the level of desktop machines.

Competing platforms, such as Palm OS 6, will also bring some substantial multimedia improvements into some future models of Palm-based computers. Therefore, we may talk about a major industrial trend towards high-quality multimedia content in handheld applications.


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