On the horizon
Here I'll discuss forthcomming hardware and hopefully patches that should improve FUIII.
It's still early days and despite lglass's conspicous lack of details about current work on patches they are addressing frame rate issues. Clearly some inefficiencies need to be ironed out and optimisations implemented.
FUIII patch announcement from Lglass 6-October-99
One issue a patch might address is support for the next wave of 3D graphics cards. Most of the next generation of 3D video cards will support transform and lighting where polygon transformation and lighting with be done by the card's own GPU (graphics processing unit). If a patch supports either OpenGL 1.2 or DX7, the performance increase will be astonishing. By offloading from the CPU, we will see increased detail together with increased frame rates.
At 120Mhz the Nvidia GeForce 256 generates 480 M/texels per second, 30% faster than the the Voodoo 3 3500. The pixel fill rate is 2.5 times that of the 3500. Run at say 150MHz it would provide a fill rate of 600 Mpixels/Mtexels per second - shit off a shovel. This is coupled with the fact that the GPU will take care of almost all of the rendering leaving a much greater CPU bandwidth for other things like AI and physics.
S3s Savage2000 boasts a fill rate of 700 M/pixels per second, almost 400% higher than the V3 3500. Again a GPU will take care of nearly all the rendering.
The fortcomming 3dfx Napalm dosn't offer a GPU, hence the CPU will still be expected to do much of the rendering work. However this will be offset by T-buffer (and spatial anti-aliasing) which will provide higher resolutions for less work, x8 texture compression which increases dramatically the rate of texture rendering and a polygon fill rate of perhaps 900 Mtexels per second.
Look out for a new wave of CPUs as chip manufacture swithes to 0.18 and 0.13 micron etching technologies.
AMD - K7 Athlon running at between 500Mhz to 1GHz
INTEL - 1999 Launch of PIII, code-named Tanner, with Katmai-enhanced graphics (starting at 500Mhz Slot 1). 2000 Tanner's 0.18 micron successor, Cascades, will boast on-chip L2 cache. Later, IA64 will debut with Merced.
2001 The 32-bit Foster, with a new core, will clock 1GHz.
McKinley will lift IA64 performance beyond Merced and the 32-bit line.
Beyond 2001 The 64-bit dynasty will split into 0.13-micron high and low-end versions, codenamed Maddison and Deerfield respectively.
For the best hardware info try Tom's Hardware Guide
Future Flight Sims
Some of the following sims to be released late this year and early next year will push back the frontiers of realism beyond current recognisable standards. I recently tried janes USAF demo where you fly around the most spectacular rendition of the grand canyon Ive yet seen with silky smooth frame rates. B17 II on the other hand models Europe using software bump mapping and a fractal based scenary generation system creating texture details to 20cm resolutions - the screen shots are amazing.
Waywood's B17 II