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    SLCentralArticlesInterviews Nov 22nd, 2014 - 8:57 PM EST
    Interview With Matrox: July 2001
    Author: Tom Solinap | Paul Mazzucco
    Date Posted: July 20th, 2001

    Introduction

    About a month ago Matrox announced the G550, their latest chip that boasted some very interesting features, especially the new HeadCasting technology. We promptly did a preview of the new chip and technology. However, the new G550 chip does not focus on raw 3D performance, and NVIDIA's GeForce3 is still the current choice for the 3D gaming enthusiast.

    With the company seemingly turning away from the high performance 3D gaming market and focusing their efforts on other areas such as 2D performance and DualHead display, many people had questions and concerns. We decided to gather some of these questions and get an interview together to see if we could get some more insight into the inner workings of Matrox.

    We got a chance to speak with Kamran Ahmed, senior manager of strategic marketing and product management for Matrox Graphics. We would like to thank Kamran for putting up with our questions, as well as Patricia Jreige, public relations specialist for Matrox Graphics, for helping setup the interview. Enough chit chat, on to the interview shall we?

    The Interview

    Thank you for accepting our interview and taking the time to answer our questions. My first question concerns the new HeadCasting technology. Matrox has always been pushing new and innovative technologies such as EMBM and the new HeadCasting technology. When and how did the new HeadCasting technology come into the picture. Why did Matrox choose this technology instead of something else?

    Well, Matrox has always believed in the need to introduce features that appeal to a large segment of the market. Most graphics chip companies are focused only on developing technologies that push the envelope to make games run faster. In this quest, some companies even compromise on basics such as improving 2D image quality and other features that are important to non-gamers. While Matrox understands the need to provide better hardware for gamers, it also believes in introducing features that provide new benefits to every user's overall graphics experience. In the case of HeadCasting, we recognized the trend of online communication that has taken the industry by storm and developed a way to add a visual aspect to this otherwise text-based experience. We also identified that using good quality two-way video to communicate is far from reality due to the bandwidth limitations today, even over average broadband connections. HeadCasting was designed to use the latest in 3D technology to provide a compelling online communication experience to the masses.

    With the Matrox G550, the target was not the high-end enthusiast/gaming market unlike with the Matrox G400 and Matrox G200, when they were first launched. The goal with this chip was to add the visual online communication capabilities to the best corporate and 2D workstation chip available today at a low incremental cost.

    Matrox was the first company to push EMBM, and succeeded in getting support in a large number of games, even at a time when other cards weren't utilizing the technology. Now Matrox has HeadCasting technologies. In what way do you expect to see Matroxs' innovations impact the industry, despite producing chips that aren't intended to be competitive in the gaming market?

    EMBM had a real impact on the gamer's visual experience and we were able to do a pretty good job at convincing developers to support the feature. To date, I believe there are over 40 different titles shipping with EMBM support - HMMmmm, I wonder if that's even more than the number of T&L titles shipping today?

    The technologies that Matrox brings to the market have a pretty significant impact in the industry - mainly due to the fact that these technologies benefit a wide variety of users for whom these features become extremely useful in their everyday user experience. With the first Millennium, back in 1995, Matrox was the first company to introduce a 64-bit graphics chip that would bring high-resolution desktops to the new Window 95 user interface. Additionally, things like being able to switch resolutions and color depths on the fly, contributed to a much better user experience for everyone.

    Matrox was also the first company to focus on improving image quality. With the Matrox G200, we introduced VCQ Rendering with 32 bit internal rendering and UltraSharp DAC technology, bringing the importance of having high 2D and 3D image quality to the attention of an industry, which was otherwise focused mainly on performance.

    DualHead Display technology was the next big innovation. Another first from Matrox, it found its way intro all types of application areas and has once again improved the way every user interacts visually with their desktop. The impact of this technology on users can best be judged by seeing some of the customer testimonials at . And the impact of this technology on the industry can best be judged by the fact that competitor's feel compelled to imitate it.

    All in all, I believe that Matrox is the only graphics company that has consistently innovated features that truly enhance almost every user's visual interaction with their computer. Indeed, there should be graphics chips that push the envelope on 3D technology and provide the ultimate gaming experience for the gaming enthusiast, just like there are graphics cards that are designed to provide the most high-end solution for 3D workstation users - but, we shouldn't forget about innovating for the masses.

    The concept of 3D communication is appealing but with the increased availability of webcams and broadband connections, how would the use of the HeadCasting engine be a better alternative? In other words, why would you use this technology instead of just a regular webcam?

    First of all, I have to point out, that 3D communication has more facets than the two applications we have chosen to introduce this concept with. Application areas like Visual CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and Virtual Web Hosts, employ virtual 3D models to communicate with people. Web cams and video certainly does not address these areas. Virtual Presentations and training with the Matrox Virtual Presenter application also cannot be replaced with a web cam. As for "3D video conferencing " with HeadFone, which is what I guess you were specifically referring to, there are a lot of reasons as to why communicating using this 3D method would be a better alternative than video conferencing using web-cams. Bandwidth is the main issue. Remembering that this technology is for the masses, who are still stuck with 56 K connections (especially in Europe), the quality of video when video conferencing is unacceptable. Yahoo's recently announced Messenger Service with video conferencing boast a frame rate of ONE frame per second - imagine if a gamer heard that ;)

    A lot of people think of broadband as being sufficient enough to transmit high quality video over the web. Sitting at work using a T1 connection, I usually have trouble streaming video over the web - and I'm talking about low to medium quality video.. Moreover, this is a one-way transmission only. Video conferencing is real-time two-way transmission of video and can therefore be unacceptable even over broadband. Some of these bandwidth issues can also be attributed to server traffic and reliability of service, which do not get overcome by broadband access.

    Outside of the bandwidth issue there are other less major benefits such as not requiring a web-cam, not having the other person see where you are or what you're really doing etc. etc.

    >> Questions Part 2

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    1. Introduction/Questions Part 1
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    3. Questions Part 3

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