Contents | < Browse | Browse >

===========================================================================
                Mini-Review: CyberVision 64/3D from Phase5
                            By:  Jason Compton 
===========================================================================

The question of how to handle this review has been bothering me for a few
weeks now.

This can't be a complete review, because the CyberVision 64/3D isn't done
yet.  Namely, there's practically no software that takes advantage of the
"3D" portion of that name, if you disregard a couple of 6 week old demos on
the CyberGraphX support site.  Some 3D software developers are apparently
only now getting their boards.

So, that said, I can hardly fairly evaluate a 3D board if I can't do
anything 3D with it.  On the other hand, Phase5 has been happily selling
the board for months now, so it doesn't seem fair to let that go by without
comment, either.

The compromise is this, a mini-review pending some additional software
support.  After all, the installation process is the same, and we've got a
pretty good idea what to expect out of the CyberGraphX V3 software by now.

Each CyberVision 64/3D card comes with 4 megs of video memory and is Zorro
II and Zorro III compatible.

The board itself is oddly shaped, with a cut-out area to accomodate the
just-released scan doubler/passthrough module (which we don't have onhand
for review, unfortunately.)  If you're using it, you have to install the
board in an inline Zorro/video slot since the scan doubler portion plugs
into the video slot.  If not, any Zorro II or III slot will do.

Configuring the board is pretty straightforward.  When I got it, it was
shipping with an early beta of the CyberGraphX V3 software (something like
beta20.  It's up to beta54 at the time of this writing.)  If you're using
something this old, upgrade it IMMEDIATELY.  You'll be a lot happier, as
certain basic features were not properly working in the early release
version.  The CyberGraphX official home page is at
http://www.best.com/~vgr/cybergfx/ and I strongly recommend that you learn
this address, memorize it, bookmark it, because it's the lifeblood of
CyberGraphX users.

Anyway, CyberGraphX, as most of us know by now, is a very powerful and very
useful retargetable graphics system which uses the Amiga display database.
Translation--you can make any program which gives you a screen requester
(including Workbench) put itself on a CyberGraphX screen simply by
selecting one from the list.  Further, you can make most programs which
DON'T ask you what screen to go onto run on a CyberGraphX screen anyway,
using a tool like NewMode.

CyberGraphX version 2 is available as a commercial product for most
graphics cards out there.  Version 3 is going to be freeware for everyone,
so we're told, but so far there is not V3 support for anything other than
Phase5's cards, the CyberVision 64 (no longer made) and the CyberVision
64/3D.  Phase5 is even promising support for the new Picasso IV which runs
the competing standard Picasso 96 software, but the CyberGraphX support is
not available yet.

The current CyberGraphX betas are quite stable, and now features are being
added.  Still not much word on the 3D support.  The demos, that which there
are, show polygons with realtime mapped textures on them in a 15 bit
screen.  You can rotate the objects using assigned keys.  It's neat, but
not very useful at present.

CyberGL is the big exciting thing for CyberGraphX 3 that nobody has seen
yet.  The idea is that it will be a subset of OpenGL, the graphical
standard used by software like high-end PC 3D applications, making it
easier to port them to the Amiga.  But again, we've yet to see it publicly.

Previous to this card, I was using a Retina Z-III board under CyberGraphX
2.  While by some accounts the Retina Z-III is actually the fastest
Zorro-III Amiga graphics card, I was never quite comfortable with it and it
always had a few oddities under CyberGraphX.  (The original RetinaEMU
software was horrible to use.) The CV64/3D is reportedly somewhat slower
than both the Retina Z-III and the CV 64 for some screen operations (since
the CV64/3D lacks some of the support hardware the CV 64 had access to).  

So, it's a tough call.  Reports indicate that Picasso96 is actually a
decent RTG system and it does provide CyberGraphX emulation (although
certain official CyberGraphX tools seem to be threatening to prevent this
from working), so the Picasso IV, with built-in scan doubler, seems to be
delivering everything it was supposed to at present.  The CyberVision 64/3D
now has its scan doubler out, but the full fledged 3D is not a reality yet.
These are the two big choices in the new graphics card market right now,
and the choice is by no means clear.  I really enjoy using the CyberGraphX
screen environment, particularly its continued support for screen dragging
and a very similar feel to the original Amiga system.  Hopefully the 3D
features will be available quite soon so we can make a full-fledged review.

Phase5 Digital Products
http://www.phase5.de