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Friday, February 10, 2006
One In Two PCs In Use Today Cannot Run Vista's 3D Interface

Half of today's PCs won't be able to take advantage of the "Aero Glass" compositor found within Microsoft's upcoming Vista software, due at the end of this year, according to a Jon Peddie Research.

The report was released late Thursday by Jon Peddie Research and used data collected during the Q4 of 2005.

The fault, Peddie reported, was that the low-cost integrated graphics controllers customers have chosen process the 2D windows of Windows XP and Windows 2000 just fine, but lack the bells and whistles necessary to process the Windows Desktop Compositing Engine used in Vista. In 2005, 63% of the 203 million computers shipped (desktop, notebook, and servers) were equipped with last generation integrated graphics controllers, JPR reported.

According to JPR's analysis, it will take a performance level add-in board (AIB) card to pull out the richness built into Vista. "When user sees a system running Vista on a PC with integrated graphics, and then sees Vista on a PC with a powerful graphics AIB in it, there will be no discussion, they will go for the better looking system if they can possibly afford it."

Aero Glass, one of Vista's main selling points, is a specialized subset of the "Aero" Vista interface, requires a DirectX 9.0c-capable graphics card, which only "performance"-class graphics add-on cards can process.

A decent 3D graphics card?which will add about $75 to $100 in the Vista launch time frame?will improve performance, according to JRP. Vista will most likely run decently on a DirectX 9 graphics card with a 256MB of RAM. At least these are the requirements for just booting up the OS and use the PC as an office workstation. Of course, enjoying HD video content on th HD DVD - compatible Vista or using the PC as a multimedia powerhouse is out of the question without a fast CPU, GPU and at least 2GB of memory. Not to mention Vista's DirectX 10 (which has been referred to as Windows Graphics Foundation 2.0) support. No graphics hardware exists today that fully supports all the known DX10 features. For example, geometry shaders, which are one step above vertex shaders in the geometry pipeline, will be in DirectX 10.

Hardware enthousiasts should wait until Microsoft decide to unveil the specific hardware requirements for its next OS.

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