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The Official NUON FAQ
Archived from the old nuon.tv website from 6/11/99

Note: Much of the information is dated, but there is still some interesting and relevant information in here. For a more in-depth look at NUON, check out the Unofficial FAQ.

What is NUON?
So basically people can watch movies and play videogames?
Why are software publishers and developers so interested in working on NUON?
Can you provide a general description of the technology?
What is VM Labs' business plan for introducing NUON?
What are the benefits to manufacturers to incorporate NUON technology in their products?
What will be the cost to manufacturers to incorporate NUON technology into their hardware?
What will be the resulting cost to the consumer?
What will be the cost of interactive software and videogames for NUON?
Will there be an add-on to incorporate NUON into already existing DVD players (i.e. those that do not incorporate NUON)?
What other devices can utilize NUON? Can the technology be used in a PC?
Why will NUON be successful when so many other new gaming and interactive platforms have failed?
Won't different features offered by different hardware confuse the marketplace and cause compatibility problems?
How does NUON's gameplay measure up to other current game platforms ?
Is NUON being positioned to be in direct competition with the game consoles?
When will hardware systems incorporating NUON be available?
When are the games being launched for the NUON platform, and what is VM Labs doing to promote them?
Can VM Labs port existing games to the NUON platform, and does VM Labs have plans to do so?
Does NUON include a modem and videophone support?
How did VM Labs and NUON get started?
Is VM Labs a private or publicly traded company?
What are the backgrounds and experiences of the VM Labs' executive team?

What is NUON?

NUON is a powerful and versatile embedded technology that enhances the passive elements of digital video products such as DVD players, digital set tops and digital satellite receivers, while adding high performance interactive graphics and audio. This combination allows consumers to enjoy next generation 3-D videogames, interactive family software and other flexible applications all on the same digital platform.

So basically people can watch movies and play videogames?

These are the most important features. However, NUON is actually a powerful, flexible and general purpose software platform for the living room. While its strengths are in 3D graphics and digital video, it has the potential to support many other TV applications, such as web browsing, email, and video-telephony. But 3D graphics, videogames and digital video are the most demanding applications of all, and this is where the NUON media processor and software really excel.

Why are software publishers and developers so interested in working on NUON?

Several reasons. First of all, NUON has the power to make their applications look and feel better than on any existing platform. Developers are always interested in working on the most powerful graphics and audio hardware, and the power and flexibility of NUON allow them to really differentiate their software.

Second, the promise of NUON is is a broader and more diverse market for videogames and other interactive software. The "Trojan Horse" model of embedding the NUON technology into popular digital video devices offers the potential of a much larger and more diverse user base than is possible from a videogame console. In other words, NUON will be owned and used by consumers of a wider range of ages as well as interests.

For example, NUON will provide interactive capability to families and individuals who may have never thought about buying a videogame console, since it will be incorporated as a standard feature into digital video products such as DVD players. A broader and more diverse user base translates into more opportunities for developers and publishers.

Content publishers and developers are expecting this to allow them to expand the genres of content that had previously never been open to them. Software publishers and developers look forward to a newly expanded demographic for interactive content.

Can you provide a general description of the technology?

The NUON media processor is indeed 128 bit. It is highly parallel and capable of processing over 1.5 billion individually programmed instructions per second. In benchmarks we have seen performance equivalent to a Pentium II operating at between 500MHz and 1,000 MHz. NUON utilizes state of the art semiconductor and software technologies to achieve a breakthrough in consumer entertainment.

However, these are poor benchmarks. A much better benchmark is to look at the graphics, listen to the audio, and judge the quality of the gameplay, the applications and the entire entertainment experience.

What is VM Labs' business plan for introducing NUON?

VM Labs' business plan is to develop the NUON interactive platform technology, to broadly license this technology to semiconductor and consumer electronics manufacturers, and to evangelize and nurture third party software applications.

VM Labs has already secured deals with key partners in the semiconductor, manufacturer and software publishing arenas.

What are the benefits to manufacturers to incorporate NUON technology in their products?

In the competitive arena of digital entertainment, those companies that will prosper are those that continue to satisfy the needs and wants of the consumer. NUON gives manufacturers the ability to offer their products with additional and differentiating features - something not possible with pure passive delivery.

For example, a DVD player with the NUON technology embedded inside, will not only offer the ability to play great videogames and family software, but also high quality DVD playback, a richer graphical user interface, smoother fast forward, rewind and slow motion, and many other features not possible in today's systems.

What will be the cost to manufacturers to incorporate NUON technology into their hardware?

There will be minimal incremental cost to manufacturers by incorporating NUON technology. VM Labs have achieved this by incorporating all the functions necessary for video and audio decode, including subpicture, closed captioning, navigation, user interface and so forth, into a single, high performance media processor. This chip replaces the 'hard wired' audio and video decoder ICs and often many other additional ICs that are required in a typical digital video product.

What will be the resulting cost to the consumer?

The cost to consumers will be determined by the manufacturers, not VM Labs. Furthermore, the price will also vary according to the exact product configuration, accessories and peripherals.

What will be the cost of interactive software and videogames for NUON?

NUON software will be price competitive with existing consumer software products.

Will there be an add-on to incorporate NUON into already existing DVD players (i.e. those that do not incorporate NUON)?

Since the NUON media processor is embedded in the heart of a digital video system, it will not be possible to upgrade existing products.

What other devices can utilize NUON? Can the technology be used in a PC?

Any digital video product can take advantage of the passive and interactive features offered by NUON. Such products include DVD players, digital satellite receivers, digital cable boxes and digital televisions.

It is also likely that other consumer electronics products will utilize the power of NUON in the future, including stand-alone game consoles, Internet appliances, videophones, and car entertainment systems.

At this time, VM Labs are focusing directly on the consumer digital video market, rather than PCs.

Why will NUON be successful when so many other new gaming and interactive platforms have failed?

NUON will succeed by becoming a standard feature embedded in the next generation of consumer video entertainment products.

To date in the United States, video game market penetration reaches approximately 30 percent. By comparison, consumer video entertainment products, such as TVs, VCRs and cable boxes, have nearly all achieved total market penetration. It is projected that digital consumer video entertainment products will replace their analog counterparts, and achieve total market penetration within the next five to ten years.

The NUON technology is designed to be embedded inside the next generation of digital consumer video entertainment products. And it's through this vehicle of digital video entertainment, that NUON will achieve a very high market penetration.

Won't different features offered by different hardware confuse the marketplace and cause compatibility problems?

VM Labs' hardware and software license agreements require extensive compatibility testing. For example, all new NUON software and hardware will undergo extensive testing to insure compatibility with all existing hardware and software.

How does NUON's gameplay measure up to other current game platforms ?

NUON was designed from the beginning to provide software developers with the power, tools and most important the flexibility to support outstanding gameplay and new differentiating effects.

The NUON media processor is extremely flexible, and capable of supporting a whole range of totally new graphics effects and algorithms such as voxels, plasma, procedural textures, parametric modeling, particle systems, and even some ray tracing. At the very least, they can totally customize the 3D pipeline to provide optimized performance for each specific title. Special effects are designed by the developer, and not the hardware manufacturer. This flexibility empowers the developer and offers a way to really differentiate new content.

Is NUON being positioned to be in direct competition with the game consoles?

While NUON offers world beating videogame performance, it will not be positioned as a game console. NUON will become the standard for interactive digital video entertainment, combining digital video with interactive 3-D graphics in one compelling platform.

When will hardware systems incorporating NUON be available?

Toshiba has confirmed the incorporation of the NUON feature-set in their future digital consumer products in the year 2000. NUON is at the heart of the Streamaster set-top box reference architecture being deployed by Motorola this year.

When are the games being launched for the NUON platform, and what is VM Labs doing to promote them?

The first titles will be available at hardware launch. VM Labs, together with their hardware and publishing partners will utilize a variety of promotion opportunities for the platform, primarily focused on games.

Can VM Labs port existing games to the NUON platform, and does VM Labs have plans to do so?

Absolutely. In fact, VM Labs has secured deals with several game publishers that are porting games to NUON. The powerful set of development tools, APIs and infrastructure, enable developers to port their core code in very little time, allowing more resources to be applied to raising gaming performance and taking advantage of the advanced graphic effects made possible by the technology.

Does NUON include a modem and videophone support?

The NUON technology supports videotelephony, a soft modem, internet navigation and networking. The software, interfaces and peripherals necessary to support these applications will not necessarily be included in NUON products. It is up to each manufacturer how they will configure and position their products.

How did VM Labs and NUON get started?

The basic architectural ideas were formed in early 1995. After seed funding the architecture was developed in detail, carefully modeled and simulated and subsequently turned into silicon. The original core development team consisted of less than 15 engineers from a variety of backgrounds in videogames, graphics, tools and chip design. VM Labs now has over 40 engineers and expects to increase to at least 60 by the end of this year. This is in addition to the substantial engineering teams dedicated to NUON by VM Labs' partners and licensees.

Is VM Labs a private or publicly traded company?

VM Labs is privately held at this time. The company is funded through advance licensing fees as well as equity sales to individuals and corporate entities.

What are the backgrounds and experiences of the VM Labs' executive team?

RICHARD MILLER, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Miller founded VM Labs in 1994 to develop and market technologies for interactive entertainment. Before founding VM Labs, Mr. Miller was Vice President, technology for Atari Corporation from 1989 to 1994, responsible for Atari's development of computer and video game products. The "Jaguar," developed by Mr. Miller's team was the first true 64-bit video game system and was widely recognized for its technical superiority. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Miller was Managing Director of Perihelion Ltd. in England, a developer of high powered workstation computers based upon the parallel-processing, RISC-architecture Transputer chip.

NICHOLAS LEFEVRE, VP, Business and Legal Affairs Mr. Lefevre joined the Company in May, 1996. He is responsible for the implementation of the Company's third party relations and strategic partnerships, with a particular emphasis on content development and the third party publishing program. He also serves as the Company's General Counsel. Mr. Lefevre has been involved in consumer electronics and interactive entertainment software for more than fifteen (15) years working with Commodore, Atari, Sega, and many other hardware and software companies. Mr. Lefevre earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1978.

BILL REHBOCK, VP, 3rd Party Development Mr. Rehbock is one of the most recent additions at VM Labs. Mr. Rehbock was the VP of R&D and Technical Support at Sony Computer Entertainment America for the past two years where he headed North American PlayStation library development, Development Support, and Peripherals Licensing. While at Sony, he was responsible for opening up communication between Sony and its developers and getting the vast amounts of developer documentation re-translated and formatted to make it easier to create PlayStation software. He was also responsible for the launch of the "Net Yaroze" hobbyist development system for PlayStation. Prior to Sony, Mr. Rehbock was responsible for bringing critical titles such as Doom, Myst, and Wolfenstein 3D to Atari's Jaguar.

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