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DeltaChrome: PCI Express support and S3 Graphics roadmap. First photos

For a long time already it has been known that a press release and actual availability can be very different. This is especially true about 3D graphics companies. That´s why there was no hype over S3 Graphics´ desktop and mobile PCI Express-enabled DeltaChrome announcement...

Nevertheless, this one might still become real. Though it will take a long time for these chips to become available in volumes (only in early H2 2004, according to the company; but I think such graphics won´t be needed in volumes until that time anyway). This time S3 Graphics has actually showcased a PCI Express card prototype that gives hope to see these in volumes. I hope readers will excuse my scepticism about S3 Graphics, but if you remember, company announced its previous DX9 GPU three times, but only on paper.

So, what does S3 Graphics promise for PCI Express? DeltaChrome models on Columbia graphics core supporting DX9 should be offered for all market segments. Currently samples stepping A0 are available and fully verified. S3 believes already the next, not the 3rd or 4th revision will be ready for the volume production.

The DeltaChrome series will include at least two GPU models, with 8 and 4 pipelines and 1 texture unit per pipeline. Initially 8-pipeline GPUs will be produced for mid-end, with high-end production to start later. Besides, S3 will not only develop, but also design the cards. Mid-range DeltaChrome S8 are expected to be made in two variants, usual and Nitro similar to NVIDIA Ultra or ATI Pro. Mainstream DeltaChrome S4 and S4 Nitro will be based on 4-pipeline GPUs. High-end models on 8-pipeline chips will be named DeltaChrome F1 and F1 Pole.

Today S3 actually has two different design for these cards: the 6-layer for higher-speed and 4-layer for mainstream. High-end GPU clock speeds will start from 315MHz, while mainstream clock speeds will start from 275MHz. Theoretically, S3 DeltaChrome S4/S4 Nitro cards will perform on the level of Radeon 9500 Pro. As for the memory interface DeltaChrome will be 128-bit, but 64-bit models might also appear for inexpensive products.

GPUs will be made using TSMC´s 130nm process, with low-K dielectics to follow in the later models.

DeltaChrome features, just in case:

  • DirectX 9, OpenGL 1.3 support
  • Vertex Shaders v2.0, Pixel Shaders v2.0 (Delta Chrome V8 Pipeline) support
  • 8 pipelines / 1 texture/pass
  • 16x anisotropy
  • 2x Super Sampling AA
  • Advanced Deferred Rendering, hierarchical Z buffer
  • Shading acceleration with dual-side stencil
  • Per Pixel Adaptive Deinterlacing
  • Chromotion engine for streaming data; uncompressed S340 support; WMV8 and WMV9 video post-processing
  • Microsoft VMR (Video Mixing Renderer)
  • HDTV connector (480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p), LVDS, Duo-View+

Well, DeltaChrome supports DX9 and OpenGL 1.3, but doesn´t support OpenGL 2.0 and doesn´t pretend to enter the workstation market. However, it supports PCI Express and has chances to become popular in the 3D graphics field.

Anyway, only the time will tell. These days XGI prepares its DX9 Volari, and S3 seems to act lively as well. I wonder if we are to see the good old multi-rival battles in the 3D market again?

Photos and most information from Tech Report

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