Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics Preview - HotHardware

Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics Preview

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The Matrox Parhelia 512
Matrox Re-Enters The 3D Graphics Ring - Big, Bad and Pretty

By -Dave Altavilla
May 14, 2002

 

We know you've been waiting for this, haven't you?  Of course you have.  Since the launch of the Matrox G450, we don't know of any hard core PC Hardware Enthusiast that hasn't been waiting for Matrox to step back up to the plate, with a new high end 3D Gaming Graphics card.  It was then that Matrox Graphics made a conscious decision to step back from the ridiculously competitive 3D Graphics scene and watch as giants fell.  Perhaps their next generation 3D Gaming chip was not ready for prime time or perhaps they just didn't want to duke it out in the down and dirty retail space.  Either way, Matrox was content, at that point in time, with various OEM design wins for their mainstream "Dual Head" capable "Business Class" chip, where only casual gamers need apply.  There was no AA support for the G450 at the time and frame rates versus NVIDIA's current powerhouse, were none too exciting for the avid gamer.  Regardless, Matrox survived a severe industry down turn and weathered the storm, sustaining on their Business and Professional Graphics offerings.

On the other hand, at the time of the G400 and G400MAX, Matrox was fairly successful at evangelizing hardware assist for Environment Mapped Bump Mapping, an effect that is now a check list item for most all modern 3D Graphics cards.  It was this kind of innovation in image quality that Matrox garnered a strong following of loyal end users and enthusiasts.  There was always one simple constant with Matrox product back then, top notch 2D and 3D image quality.  Matrox always produced a sharp, stable display with vivid accurate color, no matter what the application. 

Well then, certainly it seems not much has changed for Matrox in their mission statement for this long awaited product launch.  However this time, the all new Matrox Parhelia 512 is targeted toward the high end 3D Graphics Enthusiast or Professional and as always, delivered in Matrox "High Fidelity". 

Let's take a look!

  

Specifications and Features of Matrox Parhelia 512 Graphics Processor
A 512 bit GPU - Fat Pipes and a boat load of bandwidth
 
World's first 512-bit GPU

- 80 million transistors in 0.15 process
- 256-bit DDR memory interface
- Up to 20 GB/s memory bandwidth
- Up to 256MB DDR unified frame buffer
- 10-bit Gigacolor Technology
- 10-bit per channel RGB rendering and output
- Over one billion simultaneously displayed colors
- 10-bit precision for 2D, 3D, DVD and video
- 10-bit frame buffer mode for ARGB (2:10:10:10)
- 10-bit RAMDACs with full gamma correction
- AGP host interface designed for up to AGP 8X bandwidths
- AGP Fast Writes support
-  8-way parallel DMA streaming engine
- OpenGL 1.3 and DirectX 8.1 compliant 3D engine

High Fidelity Display Engine
- DualHead
- HF Display Technology
- Fourth-generation DualHead
- Dual integrated 400MHz 10-bit RAMDACs
- Dual independent RGB outputs
- Up to 2048 x 1536 @ 32bpp on each RGB output
- Support for two digital TMDS transmitters
- Dual independent DVI outputs
- Up to 1920 x 1200 on each output **
- Single dual-link DVI output
- Up to 2560 x 2048
- Integrated 10-bit high-fidelity TV/video encoder
- NTSC/PAL output
- Direct encoding of native interlaced YUV
- Perfect full-screen DVD playback via DVDMax
- TripleHead Desktop
- Support for 3rd RGB output
- Three display desktop at up to 3840 x 1024 @ 32bpp
- 10-bit gamma correction
- Per-layer gamma and color correction at full speed
- Dual independent, gamma correctable hardware overlays
- Hardware accelerated multi-screen OpenGL support
- Support for true multi-display under Microsoft Windows
2000 and Windows XP
 
UltraSharp Display Output Technology
- Highest-quality analog, digital and TV output
- Ultra-crisp display quality at high frequencies
- Highest-quality design, electronics and filters
- 5th-order output filters
- Highest-fidelity frequency and transient response
for optimal signal quality
- High signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) with super-low
PLL Jitter

High fidelity 3D Rendering Engine
- Quad Vertex Shader Array
- Four vertex shader units (DirectX 8.1 and beyond)
- Highest sustained complex vertex shader performance
- Parallel processing of up to 16 vertices
- 512 instruction on-chip cache
- 256 constant registers
- Quad texturing per pixel, per clock cycle
- 64 Super Sample Texture Filtering
- Highest quality trilinear and anisotropic filtering
- Sustained performance
- Dynamic allocation of texture units
- 8-sample anisotropic and trilinear filtering on
4 dual-textured pixels/clock
- 16-sample anisotropic filtering on 4 single-textured
pixels/clock
- 36-Stage Shader Array
- Most complex rendering engine ever built
- 4 pixel pipes
- 4 texturing units per pixel pipe
- 5 pixel shader stages per pixel pipe
- Support for up to 10 pixel stages per pass
- 4 pixels/clock throughput with quad texturing and 5 pixel
shader operations
- Hardware Displacement Mapping
- Compact encoding of high-resolution geometry data
- Patent-pending Depth-Adaptive Tessellation for continuous
level of detail (LOD) geometry
- Vertex Texturing for dynamic generation of geometry using
texture maps
- Support for Bezier curves and N-patch (PN-triangle) evaluation

Surround Gaming
- Support for games rendered across three displays
- Ultra-wide field of view (FOV)
- Side displays for peripheral vision
 

 
GigaColor Gaming

-
10-bit source texture support and precision
- High-precision ARGB (2:10:10:10) frame buffer
- 16x Fragment Antialiasing (FAA-16x)
- 16x supersampling quality on edge pixels only
- Avoids blurring of internal pixels
- Low performance overhead
- Support for Full Scene Antialiasing (FSAA)
 
Texturing Support
-
Support for all texture formats including:
- 32-bit source textures
- 10-bit per channel texture support
- All DXTC formats
- 2D, 3D (volume) and cubic textures
- Non-square and non-power-of-2 textures
- Planar and packed YUV textures
- Up to 2K by 2K source textures
- Support for projected textures
- Support for texture swizzling
- Render-to-texture support
 
Other 3D features include:
-
Depth acceleration unit for advanced Z processing
- 32-matrix Matrix Palette Skinning (MPS)
- Particle acceleration
- Full sub-pixel and sub-texel precision
- Environment Mapped Bump Mapping (EMBM) and DOT
Product-3
- Planar, cubic and spherical environment mapping
- Fogging, alpha blending and specular highlighting
- Flat and gouraud shading
- Independent intensity, Z and texture depths
- Antialiased 3D vector support
 
High fidelity 2D engine
- Fastest and highest quality 2D display engine ever built
- GigaColor Desktop
- All drawing operations at extended 30-bit color (10:10:10)
- 10-bit per channel frame buffer
- High-quality dithering for lower bit depth output
- Glyph Antialiasing
- Hardware accelerated text antialiasing
- Programmable gamma correction
- Full acceleration of Windows XP GDI and DirectDraw functions
- GDI+ v2.0 ready
- Programmable, ultra-fast bliter at up to 16 pixels/clock
- True-color full-screen overlay plane with 8-bit alpha
- Alpha cursor support
- 32-bit ultra-fast VGA core
 
High fidelity video engine
- PC Theater DVD Playback
- 10-bit DVD playback
- 10-bit advanced filtering and scaling
- 10-bit DVD output via TV encoder
- Independent gamma and proc-amp controls
- Full quality output using DVDMax
- Programmable overlay processor
- Video overlay with programmable proc-amp and independent
gamma correction
- Video mixing engine in overlay processor
- High-quality horizontal and vertical scaling
- Up to 4x4 filter kernel with programmable filtering coefficients
- Full-speed bi-cubic filter
- Fully VMR-compliant front-end scaling
- Advanced de-interlacing with sub-pixel positioning
- VIP2.0 compliant video input port
Industry compliance
 
Operating Systems
- Microsoft Windows
- Linux
 
Platforms
-
X86, X86-64 and IA-64compatible
- AMD 3Dnow!
- Intel MMX, SSE & SSE2 optimized
- AGP 8X, 4X, 2X and 1X Compliance
(AGP 4X max throughput)
- PCI 2.2, AGP 2.0 and AGP 3.0
- PCI Bus Power Management 1.1
- ACPI
- DirectX 8.1, PS1.3, VS1.1, VS2.0
- OpenGL 1.3
- DirectX VA, VMR, WDM
 

Matrox Parhelia 512 Block Diagram
Click image for full view

 

Processing power and the memory bandwidth to support it:

As you can see, this isn't your Dad's old G200, now is it kiddies?  Talk about having a wrap sheet a mile long!  There is more to know about this new graphics power plant from Matrox, than anyone ever imagined, when rumors started circulating a few weeks ago.  We'll try and break things down for you piece by piece, in the following pages.  However, remember two very important aspects of this new technology from Matrox.  First, this is the world's first 512 Bit Graphics Processor.  Second, this is also the worlds first implementation of a 256 bit DDR Memory Bus on a Graphics Processor.  Drop in some high speed 650MHz DDR DRAM and you are looking at a staggering 20GB/sec of memory bandwidth.

There are also a few more very unique attributes of the Parhelia 512, namely its integrated 10 Bit 400MHz RAMDACs and the fact that the GPU is AGP 8X compatible.  AGP 8X is obviously the next generation AGP graphics interface, with 2.1GB/sec of bandwidth, more than double that of AGP 4X.  However, the Parhelia 512 only supports up to AGP4X levels in terms of throughput.  It will however, still function in an AGP8X slot, when those are available from motherboard vendors.  What are more impressive perhaps, are the very high quality Color Palette DACs running at 400MHz, with full 10 bit resolution.  Again, these are hardware firsts for graphics technology.  Finally, we'll put the size of this chip into perspective for you. A Pentium 4 Northwood CPU has about 57 million transistors in its die.  The Matrox Parhelia has 80 million transistors.  So, you see now what we mean by "Big and Bad".  Now we'll show you how "Pretty" Matrox is trying to get with the Parhelia 512.

 

Image Output Quality

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