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Work begins on Glaze3D
With few people employed at Bitboys and a relative level of inexperience in chip development, Glaze3D development took considerable time. Being Bitboys’ first complete independent design, it was far from an easy task. While certain aspects were straightforward, including the pixel pipeline and triangle setup, other details proved to be rather complicated. There were the more intricate parts of design, not specifically related to functionality, but general chip operation, and also the more complicated units such as the memory manager.
With a level of foresight, Bitboys decided it would be important to include a geometry processor. This chip, then known as Thor, would function as both a T&L unit and as a bridge for multi-chip boards. Yet Thor would never make its way off the drawing board, for resources were focused on Glaze3D.
Glaze3D development continued for a few years, with the majority of the company focusing on the design, Kaj Tuomi converted C code into VHDL, preparing the chip for synthesis. Certainly, it was a drawn out process with Bitboys limited design resources.
New Tools Bring Changes
Glaze3D synthesis work was done in Infineon’s design center in France. This effort sparked an idea in their minds for a tool set designed to automate much of the product design flow. These tools would put in place all of the necessary features for allowing a C programmer to complete unit designs. The programmer would code the unit in C, then using the built-in tools and automated functionality, take the unit to VHDL and if desired, synthesis. Clock accurate simulation capabilities would be included as well, allowing for testing and debugging. Upon returning to Finland, design work began on this tool set. This would later prove to be one of Bitboys wisest decisions.
Bitboys, being forced into a situation demanding the development of a complete design, required a rethinking of their design strategy. Certain aspects of the original Glaze3D architecture were becoming out of date, with performance and a feature set that were not up to par with where the industry was headed. Would they start from scratch or rough it out? Many points required careful consideration.