About My Position at NEC Electronics
NEC is a 108 year old Japan based company, NEC Electronics is largely involved in production of semiconductor products such as ASIC (application specific integrated circuits) and other custom integrated circuit products. The Multimedia Group I worked for within NEC was primarily involved in manufacturing, marketing and supporting the PowerVR PC 3D chip, which was designed by Videologic Ltd. and manufactured by NEC. I left my position at NEC when they decided to exit the PC 3D chip market in mid 1999, they wanted to keep me in the company, but as the majority of NEC's business is manufacturing integrated circuits and not software, none of the positions they had available at the time were sufficiently interesting to make me want to stay.
NEC PowerVR Game Developer Support Projects
A major part of my job at NEC was to support game and graphics software developers who would be using the PowerVR 3d graphics hardware. This involved working on-site with actual game engine source code, helping developers optimize it for faster operation, showing them how to achieve specific visual effects and helping them to get around any compatibility problems they might experience with PowerVR hardware. The work done was usually making some modifications to a graphics engine, writing a rendering DLL "plug-in" or helping them to do general code optimizations that would effect all graphics cards.
This was usually done using a portable development system I helped design. The development system consisted of a "lunchbox" computer and a high-end laptop connected by Ethernet. The lunchbox computer had a full scale motherboard, integrated color LCD screen and was loaded with PowerVR, 3dfx and Nvidia 3D graphics hardware. The box weighed about 20 pounds and gave us the ability to compare the performance of three different kinds of graphics hardware in the field. The laptop gave us the ability to do two-machine debugging when necessary. Overall, about thirty pounds of gear allowed you to have the equivalent of a complete programmer's office that all fit into the carry-on space on an airplane.
Below I've listed the various projects and companies I worked with.
The actual list would be much longer but I've worked with so many people in the past two
years I'm afraid I may have forgotten some of them.
Major Assistance Titles
For the following titles/publishers I produced either a "plug-in" that allowed rendering on PowerVR or modifications/optimizations to the actual game engine that allowed it to work better with PowerVR hardware (and usually other hardware as well).
I76 Nitro /Arsenal Pack (Activision)
MechWarrior Titanium Pack (Activision)
Heavy Gear 1 (Activision)
Minor Assistance Titles
For these titles, I provided either on-site or phone support to get around minor compatibility problems and to help the developers become familiar with the special features of PowerVR. In some cases, code was evaluated with various profiling systems to help the developer find good places for optimization. Also helped some of these developers create special effects, or modify effects they had already created so they would work fast and correctly on PowerVR. In almost all cases, on site PowerVR compatibility testing was done as well.
Heavy Gear 2 (Activision)
Jet Moto (SingleTrack)
Twisted Metal 2 (SingleTrack)
Monster Truck Madness 2 (TRI/Microsoft)
Cart Precision Racing (TRI/Microsoft)
Die By the Sword (Interplay)
Star Fleet Academy (Interplay)
Jurassic Park Trespasser (Dreamworks)
Out of the Void (GameFX)
Outlaws (Lucas Arts)
Episode 1: Racer (Lucas Arts)
Episode 1: Phantom Menace (Lucas Arts)
Way Point Zeta (Elpin)
Lands of lore (WestWood)
For these customers I provided very light support and monitored their progress from time to time during development to help them if any problems were to turn up. In some of these cases the game either has not come out yet, was canceled or the developer simply did not need any real help getting the title to work. In most cases the support included giving a basic presentation to the developer on PowerVR capabilities.
Genesis Engine (Eclipse)
Final Fantasy (SquareSoft)
Flight Unlimited 2 (Looking glass)
Dark Project (Looking glass)
Dark Vengeance (Reality Bytes)
Grand Slam Baseball (Virgin)
Phantom Ace (Virgin)
NHL PowerPlay '98 (Virgin)
Grand Prix Legends (Papyrus)
Nascar 2 (Papyrus)
There were quite a few other developers I worked with briefly, making initial contact, supplying them with hardware, hooking them up with our support web site...etc. I don't have a list of these but there were a considerable number of them.
Marketing, Technical and Management Reports
I've frequently been called upon to produce reports on a variety of subjects. These typically involved research of various kinds, evaluation of data and writing up the report itself. Subjects have included long term market predictions, evaluation of potential products, technical design reviews, application notes, data sheets and technical white papers on 3D techniques.
Have worked booth setup (including hardware/audiovisual setup), takedown and operations during a number of trade shows including the Game Developers Conference, Comdex, E3, ECTS and SIGGRAPH.
Next Generation Hardware Development
I developed a number of reports including a market requirements document for the next generation of PowerVR chips. I also participated in technical design reviews at several stages of the development of the silicon design and did a lot of work on elimination of key software compatibility problems that had been a problem with earlier PowerVR designs. This work was fairly extensive and involved several trips to London for design reviews that lasted more than a week.
As part of this work I did extensive research into RAM configurations for this design, covering areas of price, technology and performance. This research was eventually used to decide what types of memory this chip design should support. I also did extensive analysis on the cost to produce the chip, covering areas of expected yield, chip size, packaging costs and markup. This produced fairly accurate representation of the end cost of the chip.
In the course of my job I developed a design concept for a graphics specialized version of DRAM, intended to improve performance of graphics hardware by providing functions that drastically reduce the data bandwidth on the bus to the RAM. I can not discuss this in any detail as it may eventually be the subject of a patent.
I currently act as Technical Liaison to Videologic, our UK based 3d technology developer for PowerVR. This involves dealing with technical issues of the algorithms used for 3D rendering in the design, aspects of how the design will be produced and the most appropriate configurations of the device to address current markets. Regular visits to the UK for design reviews are common.
I am also Technical Liaison to Microsoft, primarily the D3D team and the Dragon (Sega Dreamcast OS) teams. This involves attending Microsoft design reviews on a regular basis, and providing feedback to them on the designs.