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Next Generation Harlequin Rip Breaks New Ground for the Print Industry

Press release from the issuing company

Graph Expo, Chicago, IL;  September 9, 2007: The next generation of the Harlequin RIP - the Harlequin+ Server RIP - is announced today by Global Graphics at Graph Expo (booth #5451).  It is based on a re-engineered RIP kernel to bring a new level of ground-breaking functionality and performance to a wide variety of pre-press, digital printing, newspaper and workflow applications.
In addition to its ability to process PDF and PostScript files natively, the Harlequin+ Server RIP is the first commercially available graphic arts RIP to natively process files in the new XPS print format (XML Paper Specification) available with Windows Vista.  This format will have ramifications for the entire print industry, initially amongst print service providers who already process Microsoft files as well as in-plants and print shops who undertake corporate printing, but ultimately across most segments of the print industry given the ubiquity of the Windows operating system.  Native processing of file formats renders files more accurately and speedily because there is no conversion to an intermediary format.
The Harlequin+ Server RIP also introduces support for PDF 1.7, the soon to be published PDF/X-4 specification as well as JDF 1.3.  There is also support for the HD Photo/JPEG XR format, a new file format for continuous tone still images that surpasses the limitations of existing image formats with superior compression capabilities and extended dynamic range.
The Harlequin+ Server RIP provides faster processing speeds than its predecessors, notably through multi-threaded rendering that helps remove RIP bottlenecks in handling raster data and takes full advantage of the new Duo and Quad core technology.  A new retained PDF raster feature speeds up variable data processing by only RIPping new content on multi-page jobs so that the same areas are not processed repeatedly.
"Each new revision of the Harlequin RIP introduces significant performance increases and enhancements", comments Paul Collins, the product manager for RIP technologies, "but this new iteration is highly significant because the kernel processor at the heart of the RIP has been re-engineered to provide more processing power.  That's why we've decided to call this version Harlequin PLUS because it really does bring more power and productivity to the print industry. 
"Everyone in the print industry needs to think about the impact XPS may have on their business.  Its inherent capabilities as a format over the previous print path in Windows, such as support for transparencies and smooth gradients, improved typography and enhanced color support, could bring the high expectations of commercial print quality to the office environment but conversely set the expectation that 'everyday' document could be suitable for commercial printing.    But it's also a portable electronic document format so when corporate customers upgrade their internal workflows to Windows Vista, a printer's ability to accept XPS files, as well as PDF, will provide them with a keen competitive edge.  Global Graphics has been working with the XPS format since 2003 because Microsoft chose us to provide consulting and proof of concept development services on XPS from its early days, but, equally, our expertise in PDF and PostScript allow us to consider the future needs of the print industry from a neutral standpoint".
The Harlequin+ Server RIP is being previewed at Graph Expo on Global Graphics' booth (XPS Land 5451) and also on the Xitron (5225 and 5451), Screen (3801 and 5451) and Compose (4847 ) booths.
Processing power and a rich feature set for maximum efficiency
The new features bring important performance improvements and efficiencies to print operations of all sizes for CtP, proofing, DI presses, short run print, wide format printers and workflow applications   New features include:
Native XPS 1.0 processing:  The XPS (XML Paper Specification) Document format is a paginated, fixed-format, representation of electronic documents and is based on XML and the new graphics architecture that Microsoft has developed alongside Windows Vista. As an open, cross-platform document format, XPS allows users to create, share, print and archive documents.  When combined with the new print subsystem, its capabilities as a new page description language mean that it will offer significant improvements in fidelity and increased performance in rich graphics content that users increasingly demand.  The Harlequin+ Server RIP processes XPS files natively.
Native PDF 1.7 and PDF/X-4 support:  In addition to handling all popular file formats the new RIP provides full support for PDF 1.7.  as well as previously available support for PDF 1.6 - PDF 1.0 and complies with the final specification for PDF/X - 4 as well as the previously available support for PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3. The Harlequin RIP has processed PDF natively for more than ten years. Native processing of file formats, rather than converting to PostScript as an intermediary format, ensures fast and accurate rendering of the file.
HD photo support: A new file format for continuous-tone still images that surpasses the limitations of existing image formats
Significant performance increases: Multithreaded rendering that helps remove RIP bottlenecks in handling raster data and teaks full advantage of the new Duo and Quad core technologies; PDF retained raster that speeds up variable data processing
PDF wrapped raster facilitates soft proofing: PDF wrapped raster allows the print service provider to quickly and easily create a completely flattened PDF file that represents exactly how a job will appear on press, enabling it to be used for soft-proofing and customer approvals.
Compatible with JDF 1.3 specification: The Harlequin+ Server RIP is JDF- ready. Version 3.0 of Global Graphics' JDF Enabler adds JDF compatibility to Harlequin RIP based workflows and Imposition-led workflows.  In such cases printers can easily sets up a JDF-based workflow to accept JDF files from most major prepress Imposition packages and allow JDF files created from those packages to determine how the RIP processes the constituent page files. The JDF-enabled Harlequin +Server RIP will accept jobs conforming to the JDF 1.3 specification and is compliant with the Base, JMF, and "Layout Creator to Imposition" Interoperability Conformance Specifications (ICSs).  The Harlequin+ Server RIP's predecessor, the Genesis Release (v7.1) was the first product to be officially CIP4 certified following testing by the Printing Industries of America/ Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, against the Layout Creator to Imposition ICS and Base ICS.
Extended platform support: to include Windows Vista and MAC OS X 10.5 (Leopard).
In addition the Harlequin+ Server RIP features many prepress processes that normally run on separate applications, giving print shops the functionality of a workflow.  These features include in-RIP simple imposition, trapping, screening, color management and font emulation winner of a 2007 PIA/GATF InterTech Technology award (see separate press release).
"The option for Navigator GPS users to upgrade their workflow to process XPS natively, just as they have done with PDF and PostScript for many years, will be a tremendous value-added," stated Jim Thrush, President, Xitron (booth 5225). "Native XPS processing rounds out an already powerful set of workflow tools for the small to medium sized printers who represent the majority of the Navigator GPS users."
Jim Luttrell, director of marketing, ECRM Imaging Systems said, "ECRM is pleased to see Global Graphics on the leading edge of RIP development that includes PDF 1.7 and native XPS file support in v8.0 release."
Other Global Graphics customers at Graph Expo offering solutions based on Harlequin RIP technology include HP (1229), Agfa (3839), Kodak (1246), Presstek (3829), Ryobi (3808) , HighWater Designs (on the Printware booth 5425), and Polkadots Software (5620).
Global Graphics' OEM and system integrator partners will announce products and solutions based on the Harlequin+ Server RIP separately. Partners include the world's leading manufacturers and suppliers of imagesetters, Computer-to-Plate and direct -to-press systems, digital color proofers, digital press and workflows.  Information about specific Harlequin RIP implementations can be obtained direct from Global Graphics customers listed at  http://www.globalgraphics.com/purchase/harlequin_rip.html