First Chrome 400 Series GPUs available in late February 2008
This particular release from S3 Graphics is interesting in the sense that just about nobody saw it coming. A whole new series of GPU just appearing out of nowhere doesn't happen very often.
Nonetheless, it has happened today in the form of the new Chrome 400 Series of GPU, which comes from S3 Graphics, a company formed out of a joint venture between S3 and VIA Technologies in 2001.
S3 had once maintained a notable market share in terms of notebook graphics solutions, but over the past few years, that market share has declined steadily and one might have been mistaken into thinking that S3 was done and dusted.
Don't tell that S3 Graphics mind you, it has just announced the Chrome 400 Series discrete graphics processors and claims it will "provide the latest gaming experience for energy-efficient desktop systems and portable notebook PCs coupled with outstanding HD content playback at the highest performance-per-watt ratio ever".
There aren't any performance figures just yet, but the Chrome 400 Series is built on Fujitsu's 65nm process, supports DirectX 10.1, and utilises PCI Express 2.0. You'll get full hardware acceleration for all your high definition playback needs and it also has connectivity covered with DisplayPort and HDMI taken care of.
The Chrome 400 Series' key features are listed as:
- DirectX 10.1 Support: An S3 proprietary unified shader architecture supports the latest additions to DirectX 10.1 allowing realistic 3D rendering and increased visual acuity through improved Anti-aliasing (AA), Image/Texture improvements, higher precision formats, and programmable lighting effects. These improvements will allow users to experience life-like rendering and image quality in supported DirectX 10.1 applications.
- ChromotionHD™ Video Technology: Featuring a fully programmable video architecture with true HD quality 1080p playback for Blu-ray and HD-DVD content, the ChromotionHD engine supports the latest HD standards including H.264, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, WMV-HD, and AVS, for a stunning movie experience. The video engine is also highly optimised with the decoding and post processing display pipeline that allows simultaneous acceleration of single and multiple video streams in HD format with vibrant colours and picture clarity.
- S3 Graphics PowerWise™ Technology: Sophisticated algorithms and power control mechanisms will allow Chrome 400 Series GPUs to deliver the optimal balance between performance and power on-the-fly, to meet performance and application requirements for power efficient graphics computing on thin and light notebook PCs and small form factor (SFF) PCs. Additional benefits allow users to increase time-between-charges by extending battery life and superior performance-per-watt operation, giving users a true mobile graphics platform for the latest 3D and HD video technologies. Enabling PowerWise on consumer desktops will provide an ideal platform for silent, fanless solutions in HD multimedia home systems. In the corporate market, PowerWise will reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO), minimising electricity usage and cooling costs.
- PCI Express 2.0: Chrome 400 Series GPUs support the latest advances to the PC component interconnect by offering users the ability to boost the graphics performance of their current systems with the high throughput PCI Express 2.0 bus technology. The faster connection speed also allows users to take advantage of additional S3 Graphics technologies such as AcceleRAM™ which leverages system memory for image data storage, and MultiChrome™ Multi-GPU technology to unleash higher 3D rendering performance.
- Advanced Display Connectivity: Integrated digital display support with HDCP content protection will allow users to connect to a multitude of monitors, displays, and consumer electronic (CE) devices for HD content viewing across a secure display path. Built-in HDMI transmitters with HD Audio controllers allow seamless HDMI connectivity, without requiring external cable connectors for audio inputs into the GPU. Display interfaces include HDMI, dual-link DVI, DisplayPort, HDTV, and VGA. Supporting the latest display technologies ensures S3 Graphics can deliver an optimal viewing experience to the user for 3D and HD video.
S3 Graphics state that the first GPUs from the Chrome 400 Series will be available later this month. It might not set the world alight in terms of performance, but we wonder if S3 can reclaim some of its lost market share - particularly in notebooks.
Official product page: s3graphics.com