The graphics market has changed significantly since the mid-1990s when it was populated by four large companies: 3DFX, ATI, Matrox and Nvidia. Nothing better signifies how much has changed than the fact Matrox's most recently-launched products, the C420 and C680 graphics cards, both feature graphics chips from AMD.
Since failing to keep up with the 3D graphics trend Matrox has pursued specialist 2D graphics with a focus on enterprise and industrial solutions for television studios, digital signage and other activities requiring large multi-display arrays. Matrox's latest C420LP and C680 graphics cards make use of AMD's Cape Verde GPU core that powers the Radeon HD 7700 series. 2GB of GDDR5 video memory is backed up with support for the OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL 4.4 and DirectX 11.2 graphics standards.
A fully-customised display configuration on the C680 enables up to six 4,096 x 2,160 'true' 4K displays to be driven at 30Hz, or three at 60Hz, through six mini-DisplayPort connections. Such extensive display capabilities are also paired up with enterprise-class software, known as the Matrox PowerDesk desktop management suite, and extensive driver support and interoperability on Windows embedded operating systems.
The C420 low-profile graphics card is a lower-cost alternative which can drive four 2,560 x 1,440-pixel displays in a passively-cooled package. Like the C680 it comes with the same software, driver support and interoperability for embedded operating systems.
Neither solution is of significant interest to mainstream consumers, with pricing of $760 for the C420 and $930 for the C680, but it's good to see Matrox is still alive and kicking. More interesting is the fact AMD is selling its GPU technology directly to other hardware vendors to use; something we've rarely seen the company do before.