Microsoft drops Talisman reference design

Microsoft has cancelled a reference design for its Talisman graphics initiative because the graphics chip makers it aimed to serve could produce devices quickly and inexpensively without it. Code-named Escalante, the Talisman reference design aimed to verify that hardware components worked together and to provide a test bed for hardware and software vendors. Slow development on the project, coupled with advances in processors and graphics chips, cut the window of need for the Escalante board so short that there was little incentive to continue the project.

Microsoft has cancelled a reference design for its Talisman graphics initiative because the graphics chip makers it aimed to serve could produce devices quickly and inexpensively without it.

Code-named Escalante, the Talisman reference design aimed to verify that hardware components worked together, provide a test bed for hardware and software vendors, and speed Talisman-compliant products to market, said Jay Torborg, director of graphics and multimedia at Microsoft's Windows Operating Systems division.

Slow development on the project, coupled with advances in processors and graphics chips, cut the window of need for the Escalante board so short that there was little incentive to continue the project.

"We decided to cancel the reference implementation," Torborg said.

Instead, Microsoft is concentrating on licensing Talisman technology to chip makers, Torborg said. In the next few weeks, a number of vendors will announce Talisman licences, he added.

The licensees will include the major and some of the smaller graphics chip companies and some vendors that will be new to graphics devices, Torborg added.

For instance, Trident Microsystems said last week it will build Talisman into a single chip for mainstream multimedia applications.

Cirrus Logic, which partnered with Fujitsu Microelectronics, Philips Semiconductor, and Silicon Engineering, expects to use Talisman in a range of graphics chips, said Bob Brummer, director of strategic marketing at the company's PC Products division.

Hardware technology overtook Escalante, Brummer said. For example, the Accelerated Graphics Port, which speeds graphics applications, did not exist when the Escalante project started.

S3 is also looking into Talisman, said Scott Tandy, S3's director of marketing for high-end graphics products. "As we develop our high-end products, we are implementing Talisman where it makes sense," Tandy said.

S3 is finalising a Talisman licence agreement with Microsoft, Tandy said. Leveraging Microsoft's investment in Talisman into graphics is worth the effort, he added.

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