ATI has unveiled its new TRUFORM rendering technology, which it claims will deliver "the smoothest 3D images ever seen".

Toshi Okumura, senior product manager for desktop marketing at ATI, said: "Despite recent improvements in the graphical quality of computer games, for example, most 3D objects – especially characters – do not seem very lifelike. They tend to look like a collection of geometric blocks with textures painted on them, largely because of limited bus and memory bandwidth."

ATI's solution integrates a technology called N-Patches, or PN Triangles. These elements are curved rather than flat triangles. This is supported by OpenGL and DirectX 8.0. This means that surfaces can be generated entirely by the graphics processor – with no significant changes to existing artwork composed of flat triangles, claims the company.

Patched up It's compatible with older graphics processors – if you play a game that integrates N-Patches on older graphics processors, the game will still work. The technology is capable of delivering better, more realistic characters and scenes from older games, promises the company.

ATI's solution can amplify existing geometric information. It provides more visual detail from small amounts of data. It's an AGP (accelerated graphics-port) solution. It also makes better use of the available graphics bandwidth by converting 3D images with low polygon counts, into high polygon count versions. This is called tessellation.

The number of triangles and polygons in an image can also be scaled to the capabilities of the installed graphics hardware. Okumura said: "Software developers usually create low triangle-count models so their games will run well on low-end computers." TRUFORM also offers advanced lighting techniques, including the capacity to deliver realistic highlights on the surfaces of 3D objects, claims ATI.

ATI makes the graphics processors for most Apple products, including iBooks, iMacs, PowerBooks, the Cube and most G4 Power Macs.