The TMS34010 was the first programmable graphics processor integrated circuit (IC). First silicon was working at Texas Instruments (TI) in Houston in December 1985, and first shipment (a development board) was to IBM's workstation facility in Kingston, New York, in January 1986. Design took place at TI facilities in Bedford, UK and Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
The TMS34010 was a bit addressable, 32-bit processor, with two register files, each with fifteen general purpose registers and sharing a sixteenth stack pointer register. Its distinguishing characteristics from all other microprocessors up to that time included special instructions for two-dimensional graphics primitives, arbitrary variable-width data, and arithmetic operations on pixel data. It was distinguished from graphics chips that preceded it (such as the NEC µPD7220 or the Hitachi HD63484 (ACRTC - Advanced CRT Controller)) by being truly programmable, instead of being limited to executing hardwired primitives. The cache was particularly useful for code fragments that implemented complex bit-level graphics operations. The TMS34010 was supported by a full ANSI compliant C compiler, and was capable of executing any general-purpose program in addition to graphics programs.
The successor to the TMS34010, the TMS34020 (1988), provided several enhancements including an interface for a special graphics floating point coprocessor, the TMS34082 (1989). The primary function of the TMS34082 was to allow the TMS340 architecture to generate high quality three dimensional (3D) graphics. The performance level of 60 million vertices per second was quite advanced at the time.
TI made an unsuccessful effort in 1987 and 1988 to convince games makers such as Nintendo and Sega to write 3D games and create a new console market. In 1987 TI provided the first demonstration of true real-time 3D games with stereo sound effects on a personal computer (PC), using a small TMS34010 adapter card (called "The Flippy"). The Flippy was designed as the basis of a game development system for consoles and as a PC gaming card in its own right. TI's effort foreshadowed the creation of 3D game consoles by both companies as well as Sony in the early 1990s, and the creation of the 3D game and graphics adapter markets in PCs.
Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) emulates the TMS34010.
This chip was also used on a video card for an Apollo/Domain workstations. It was an Appian Graphics Rendition IV.
- "TI's TMS34020 Graphics System Processor". (31 October 1990). Microprocessor Report.