S3 Graphics Interview
More DeltaChrome Info Straight From the Source...

By, Marco Chiappetta
April 13, 2004


S3's DeltaChrome GPU is a different sort of graphics product, combining a few very unique features at very competitive price points, with projected street prices that should attract the masses. With the DeltaChrome in its current state however, we felt it wasn't quite ready for prime time when we first previewed it back in March, although it definitely has potential. As such, we decided it might make sense to dig in a bit deeper with S3 directly, in an effort to learn more about what's going on behind the scenes with regard to DeltaChrome and the road ahead for the company that aims to challenge the likes of ATi and NVIDIA in mainstream graphics.


Thank you very much for taking some time out of your day to answer a few questions for us. Before we begin, what is your name and title, and what are your responsibilities S3?

Hi my name is Nadeem Mohammad, Marketing Product Manager for North America and Europe.

Hello my name is John David, I am the ISV Evangelist and North America Press Manager. As well as handling press related issues in North America, I am also the coordinator between PC game developers' and S3 Graphics own team of developers. What that means in a nutshell, is I make sure that the latest PC games are compatible with our GPU hardware! To borrow a word, I "evangelize" our product with game companies.

 

1) In our initial preview of your DeltaChrome S8 and S8 Nitro boards, the GPU cores were respectively clocked at 300MHz and 325MHz. Competing products with comparable transistor counts, built using a similar .13 micron manufacturing process, have higher clock speeds. Do you anticipate the DeltaChrome line of GPUs to ship at higher core clock speeds when final retail-ready products hit store shelves?

Nadeem: The DeltaChrome family of products has S3 Graphic comprehensive power management features and leverages one of the most advance low power 0.13 technologies; this enables DeltaChrome to deliver the highest performance per watt of any DirectX 9 GPU available today. As we ramp up production we will get a better understanding of clock variation and at that point we will make a determination if we can officially raise the default clocks until that time users will be able to enjoy some degree of overclockablity.

 

2) We encountered minimal problems with the v15.08.09b beta drivers that were used to test the pre-release DeltaChrome S8 cards. Are you satisfied with the progress youve made over the past few months with regard to driver development?

Nadeem: We were very impressed with your testing process and review coverage. Im pretty pleased with the progress we have made to date, but even though the driver is already very solid we do plan to continue to expand our test coverage and make further improvements. One example being the OpenGL performance, we have drivers under test which offers approximately 20% boost compared to the driver used during the review, we now get 180+ frames per second for the standard Quake III benchmark which is either faster or comparable with other mainstream GPU products. The driver set for DeltaChrome family will be extended for all of our future AGP products so our users will be able to enjoy the benefit of future driver enhancements. S3 has always had a reputation for having very reliable and stable drivers very much appreciated by our corporate customers; we will continue to put stability and reliability at a higher priority than tuning for benchmarks.



3) How much performance do you foresee being gained in future driver releases? Are any new features planned?

Nadeem: Apart from the OpenGL game performance improvements which already represent over a 100% increase compared to our first review driver, the other improvements I do not want to comment on any projected improvements but I can assure you that performance tuning has started to be a hot topic of discussion within our software department now that the drivers have reached broad compatibility and stability.

 

4) In OpenGL applications, weve noticed you dont currently support Anti-Aliasing. Is there an architectural reason for this? Will this feature be supported in future driver or product releases?

Nadeem: We support high quality, 4 sample (2x2), rotated grid, super-sampling under D3D which demonstrates the hardware is capable of this. We are in the process of reviewing customers' feedback on the need for this feature in OpenGL.



5) When physically comparing the DeltaChrome S8 and S8 Nitro to competing products, it seem to us that S3s reference designs are somewhat less complex, and may be more economical to reproduce. Street prices for the DeltaChrome S8 line of boards will no doubt be lower than the recommended MSRP. Do you expect street prices for your products to be lower than competing products in the same market segment?

Nadeem: Pricing is set by our customers and their retailers in turn, but we have done everything we can to ensure DeltaChrome works well using cost effective components and designs. The memory interface is very solid and does not need expensive PCBs or memory devices. We do expect that DeltaChrome boards will represent very good value for money when compared to other products in this market segment.

 

6) The DeltaChrome architecture is being billed as a product that goes Way beyond DX9 Gaming. Which features in particular would you spotlight as the reasons behind this tag line?

Nadeem: Primarily this statement reflects the products and company's focus to ensure that the total needs of PC graphics user are not over shadowed by pure 3D gaming. Features which illustrate this include the native HDTV output, including 1080p support, the Chromotion programmable video engine, and our 2D-XP feature which accelerates Windows XP best appearance mode. Other features include full support of rotated monitors DeltaChrome has hardware acceleration for rotation which enables us to offer full functionality at full performance in either portrait or landscape mode and that includes 3D and media playback. I should also mention the high color depth modes we have, so called 10.10.10.2, fully supported by Microsoft DirectX9, which really brings digital photographs alive.

John: In short, we are not just targeting our product for the typical gamer but opening it up to a broader range of PC graphics demographics. Hence the "Way Beyond DX9 Gaming" slogan.


The Interview Continues...