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In many image-processing applications, simages are rendered in three dimensions. To display these images, systems developers are using high-performance graphics cards and taking advantage of a number of application programming interfaces (APIs) that incorporate visualization functions to make programming more efficient.

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In many image-processing applications, simages are rendered in three dimensions. To display these images, systems developers are using high-performance graphics cards and taking advantage of a number of application programming interfaces (APIs) that incorporate visualization functions to make programming more efficient. Two popular APIs are Microsoft's DirectX and OpenGL, originally developed by SGI. This month, we look at where you can find standards-compatible graphics boards, trade associations that support them, and benchmarks that define their performance.

ASIAN GRAPHICS
www.globalsources.com
If you are looking for some inexpensive graphics cards, open this site. Type in "graphics cards" in the search box and up pops 44 PC-based graphics boards from such well-known vendors as AWTI International (Taipei, Taiwan), Asmart Technology (Taipei, Taiwan), and Sunrich Technology (Quarry Bay, Hong Kong). From this site, you can directly access manufacturers' Web sites and download specifications and prices.

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OPEN STANDARDS
www.opengl.org
The official Architectural Review Board source for all documentation, tutorials, sample code, and sample applications, OpenGL.org (San Francisco, CA) offers a wealth of information. Here, you'll find developer and technical resources for OpenGL programming, daily news reports about new OpenGL products and events, and lists and specifications on 3-D accelerator boards. In addition to discussion forums for developers and end users, there is also a list of OpenGL-related developer jobs.

DEVELOPERS GUIDES
www.microsoft.com/directx
DirectX, which is a suite of multimedia APIs built into Windows operating systems, enables software developers to access hardware features without having to write hardware-specific code. From this Microsoft-developed site, you can download the latest version of DirectX, read developer FAQs, and participate in news and chat groups. In addition, there are links to DirectX downloads, books, documentation, and related technical articles.

API BREWS
java.sun.com/products/java-media/3D
Developers seeking to put scalable, platform-independent 3-D graphics into Java-technology-based applications and applets should check this Sun Micro-systems (Palo Alto, CA) site. Providing a set of object-oriented interfaces that support a high-level programming model, the Java 3D API enables developers to build, render, and control the behavior of 3-D objects and visual environments. On this site, you can download the latest Alpha version of Java 3D API 1.3, see demos, and read articles and technical documentation about the API.

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BENCHMARKING GUIDES
www.specbench.org/gpc
The System Performance Evaluation Cooperative (SPEC) was founded in 1988 by several workstation vendors who realized the need for realistic, standardized performance tests. In 1996, the Graphics Performance Characterization Group (GPC) joined SPEC. It now includes a number of characterization groups, including SPECapc, a set of benchmarks for graphics-intensive applications, SPECmedia, a group developing benchmarks for MPEG-2 encoding and multimedia Java-enabled Web pages, and SPECopc, a group working on ways to characterize the performance of the OpenGL API.

COMPUTER GRAPHICS
www.siggraph.org
ACM SIGGRAPH generates and disseminates information on computer graphics and interactive techniques. Best known for its annual SIGGRAPH conference, the organization's Web site features information on publications, information resources, and related links.

Other interesting Web sites
www.americas.creative.com
www.appiangraphics.com
www.mirage-mmc.com
www.us.guillemot.com
www.us.hercules.com
www.intergraph.com
www.gainward.com
www.visiontek.com
www.koutech.com
www.asus.com.tw
www.bitboys.com
www.leadtek.com

www.matrox.com
www.nvidia.com
www.3dlabs.com
www.elsa.com
www.ati.com
www.es.com

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