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Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics Preview
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Date: May 17, 2002
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics - Page 1

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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The Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics - Page 2

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

By -Dave Altavilla
May 14, 2002

2D Visuals, Display Output and 2D/3D Color Depth
Old line Matrox quality with leading edge technology

Below is the block diagram section of the Parhelia 512's Display Controller and Output Circuitry.  It comes complete with dual simultaneous and independent outputs for driving dual DVI and VGA outputs.  In addition, Matrox has incorporated 10 bit DAC technology, for more color depth per pixel.

Precision in DAC response is critical to color image quality at the output stage.  DACs (or Digital to Analog Converters) are the responsible for converting the digital image data that is drawn by the GPU into analog output signals that can be displayed on your monitor.  As one can imagine the higher resolution a Color DAC is, the better the final output signal will be.

 

In the above graph, the engineers at Matrox have taken a high speed digital oscilloscope and measured the frequency response of their product versus their competition in a green digital to analog conversion.  The ideal output value is a flat 700Mv, which represents the full intensity of the color signal.  As you can see clearly here, the Parhelia 512 DAC is significantly more uniform across the frequency spectrum.

 

In addition, Matrox has some of the best filtering technology in the business bar none.  Most any Tech Journalist will tell you that historically, Matrox's 2D desktop quality, is the one to beat.  Matrox is claiming to continue their tradition of quality with some of the best custom tuned output circuitry available. 

 

We won't get into the gory details of signal jitter here.  It should suffice to say that nice neat square waves equal a crisp, vibrant image quality.  Big spikes and dips in a signal wave plot, are representative of degradation and loss.  Wonder who that "competitor" is with the nasty messy signal?  We'll be nice and keep it a secret.

 

Matrox Gigacolor:

Rendered on the Parhelia 512
Click for full view

Finally, with Matrox's new 10 bit DACs, they are able to deliver something that is truly unique to the industry at this time.  "Gigacolor", as Matrox likes to call it, is otherwise known as full display of over 1 Billion colors.  Before you peg the "Marketing-Hype-O-Meter" too far, believe or not, the human eye can definitely tell the difference between 16 Million and 1 Billion colors, especially where dark colors are being displayed. During our visit to Matrox HQ for our briefing, we were shown a few basic 3D shapes that were displayed in standard 32 bit color mode and then in Gigacolor, on the desktop.  The effect was fairly prominent, with the Gigacolor display showing far less overall banding in color gradients.

In addition, you can run all 3D gaming titles in full Gigacolor.  Since this 10 bit color precision is driven throughout the graphics pipeline and then ultimately by the 10 bit DACs, any application or game will benefit with better color resolution, especially with a dark scene or image. Also, since the entire rendering pipeline has 10 bit precision, there should be little if any performance degradation while running in Gigacolor mode.

Lastly, as we noted earlier,  the Parhelia 512 also has another big feature on the display output side of things, for multi-monitor support.  However, the good news is now you can do some really fun things with it, from a gaming perspective.  We'll get back to that again later.

 A closer look at the 3D Pipeline!

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The Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics - Page 3

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

By -Dave Altavilla
May 14, 2002

 

Displacement Mapping Engine
Something totally new and innovative for the developer

The Matrox Parhelia 512 is actually the first GPU of its kind to integrate hardware assistance for a technique that is fairly new to the 3D Graphics and Game Developer community, called Displacement Mapping.  This technology was developed by Matrox and will be part of the standard feature set for Microsoft's Direct X 9 API.  Think of Displacement Maps similarly to Texture Maps, only instead of holding object Texture data, they hold object Displacement or "volume" data, if you will.  That is to say that Displacement Maps give an object's surface its depth, height and profile.

Perhaps it is a bit of a cliché but a picture is certainly worth a thousand words, especially with this technology.  As a matter of fact, during our trip to the Matrox HQ in Montreal, Matrox was giving away these "Bed of Nails" gadgets as a door prize of sorts, one that also illustrates the technology very well.  Imagine, pushing your face into that prickly bed of nails and then looking at the structure, that is created on the other side, after your facial structure "displaced" hundreds of nails, at various heights in the bed.  You would get a strikingly accurate reconstruction of your facial features on that opposing surface.  You've just created a Displacement Map.

Here is an example of how Displacement Mapping can be utilized in 3D Gaming Engines.  This was part of the demo that Microsoft ran with Matrox at Winhec this Spring. 

Displacement Mapped Alien Rendering
Click image to stream 2.5MB AVI File

 

Displacement Mapped Terrain Demo - Courtesy Westwood Studios
Click image to stream 5.8MB AVI File

 

Dynamic Depth Adaptive Tessellation:

Now combine the scene's base mesh with the Displacement map, in real time and you get the effect that is rendered in these two demos.  As a scene requires additional detail, as the users field of vision zooms in for example in this Terrain demo, more geometric complexity and Vertex Texturing can be added, to provide the proper level of realism and detail.  Imagine what this technology can do for a Flight Sim.  Real-time terrain rendering has always been a major hurdle to overcome for the developer.

Again, the point to this whole technology demo, is that the Matrox Parhelia 512 has an on board processing engine for this technology.  Now the kicker here is that game developers have to take advantage of this on board hardware assist for this technology, in order for it to be a real benefit.  Both Displacement Mapping and Depth Adaptive Tessellation will become formally available to the developer, with the advent of the Direct 9X SDK.  However, we know for sure that Matrox is hard at work evangelizing this technology, as you can see in the Westwood Studios Terrain AVI.
 

Anti-Aliasing Technology
Efficient and beautiful

Several times during our visit to Matrox HQ, we were treated to a hand at the controls of the Parhelia 512, running a recent game title.  We were also allowed to experiment with different quality settings, including Anti-Aliasing.

16X Fragmentation AA:

Full scene Anti-Aliasing is very inefficient in that the process requires the GPU to Super or Multi-Sample an 3D scene, so that it can be re-rendered and filtered at higher resolutions to remove jagged edges.  This causes a significant reduction in frame rate and is significant processing overhead for the GPU 

FAA or "Fragmentation Anti-Aliasing", the Parhelia 512 way, only samples the edge pixels of a given scene, as illustrated above and determines whether they are not covered, completely covered or partially covered (fragmented).  If an pixel is determined to be fragmented, it is then Super Sampled at 16X AA sub pixel quality and either sent to the frame buffer or stored in the frame buffer with list data, for anti-aliasing.  The result is that less than 5 to 10% of the scene's pixels are actually anti-aliased.  Only the aliased pixels are actually processed for AA.  This is far more efficient and the results looks fantastic (we've seen it first hand) in 16X AA mode.  We also should note that textures won't get blurred as much with this method of AA since, only edge pixels are actually processed and not the complete scene.

Here are some screen shots for illustration.

No AA

16X FAA

 
No AA

 
16X FAA

 
No AA

 
16X AA

No AA

16X AA

Now there is one small caveat, when it comes to 16X Fragmentation AA with the Parhelia 512.  Some titles may not function correctly with this technology, as we've seen with certain titles with traditional Multi-Sampling or Super Sampling techniques.  However, the Parhelia 512 is also capable of up to 4X standard FSAA mode as well and has a selectable setting in the driver control panel. 

 

The New Matrox Power Desk:

Speaking of which, here is a quick demo of Matrox's new version of their "Power Desk" software.

Matrox Power Desk Demo
Click to view

Intuitive and user friendly, just the way we like it.

 

Glyph AA:

Once again, Matrox gives the end user a totally new technology.  Glyph AA is the technique used in Microsoft operating systems, that smooths the edges of screen fonts.  Microsoft calls their software AA approach "Clear Type".  Typically, this feature is supported in software and requires a small amount of CPU overhead.  However, like the GeForce 4, the Parhelia 512 accelerates Glyph AA in hardware and in addition allows for gamma correction of that text.  Gamma correction of screen fonts has not been available in hardware, until the Parhelia 512.

Example of Glyph AA - Click for view

Some folks may see this feature as more of a novelty than anything else.  However, users of Microsoft's "Clear Type" will appreciate this feature and it's a total "freebie".  We're certainly not complaining.

 

64 Super Sample Texture Filtering, Surround Gaming,
Dual Head HF and Triple Head!

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The Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics - Page 4

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

By -Dave Altavilla
May 14, 2002

 

64 Super Sample Texture Filtering
Great Anisotropic Filtering with minimal performance loss

The Matrox Parhelia 512 supposedly, can process up to 64 texture samples per clock, which is double the number that a GeForce4 Ti can process, for example.  Matrox is claiming that their 16X Anisotropic Filtering setting with dual textures, will run as fast as the competition in standard trilinear filtering mode.

Here is an example of what 64 Super Sample Filtering can do, with Quake 3 Arena textures.

64 Super Sample Texture Filtering
Click image for view

One can only imagine how true 64 tap Aniso will run on the Parhelia 512, with 2X the number of texture samples per clock that can be processed.  We are itching to benchmark this thing.

 

Triple Head, Surround Gaming and Dual Head HF
Your next setup?

Matrox has made quite a niche' for themselves in the multi-monitor output space.  They are well known industry leaders in this technology and have always had the most comprehensive and versatile solutions in the market, ever since their G450 product.  The Parhelia 512 continues the Matrox legacy in this technolgy, boasting never before seen multi-monitor capabilities that are years ahead of their competition.  We'll try to cover the salient points here in some detail.

Dual Head HF:
 
Here the Matrox Parhelia 512 employs it's two 400MHz ultra sharp 10 bit RAMDACs,  Dual TMDS Transmitters and a 10 bit TV Encoder.  This allows the card to display any number of multiple monitor options including, Dual DVI Flat Panels at 1900X1200 or Dual Analog Outputs at 2048X1526, all with overlays, gamma correction and hardware cursors.

We're expecting great things in terms of desktop image quality, from the Parhelia 512.  In addition, Matrox is going beyond the current mindset and breaking "out of the box" so to speak.

 

Triple Head Desktop Mode:

The Parhelia 512 can also utilize an on board third RAMDAC, for the ability to drive a Windows desktop across a third display, for a max resolution of 3048X1024 at 32 bit color. 

Once again, Matrox doesn't forget to bring something to the table for the loyal "Professional' end user crowd.  Desktop Publishers, Financial Analysts and CAD Engineers, should be really impressed by all this extra screen real-estate. Personally, we all left Matrox HQ "jonesing" big time, for a triple head 18" Flat Panel setup.  Oh what fun.  Speaking of fun...

 

Surround Gaming!!!

What's not to love about this feature?  Well, perhaps with the exception of the huge amount of desktop space it soaks up, you can't help but get a little giddy about the thought of having three displays on your desktop for that all important death match with your over zealous buddy.  You certainly aren't going to take one of these rigs to the local LAN Meet, unless you have some serious cargo space in that Honda Civic, that we're not aware of.  However once again, Matrox brings an industry first to the 3D Graphics and Gaming market, with the Parhelia 512.

Click the images below to see what is better experienced first hand and in person.

 

Surround Gaming with Flight Simulator 2002 and Quake 3 Arena
Click each image for the demo
   

This is not just stretching the main image across three screen areas.  Matrox likes to refer to Surround Gaming as the "IMAX experience of 3D Gaming".  What this technology actually does is to render 3 independent screen areas across each display, enabling 3 times the field of view for a given scene.  Think peripheral vision here folks.  Is it coming to you now?  In the immortal words of Austin Powers, "yeah baby"!  You've just set yourself up with three times the viewing area, to lay waste to your frag hungry friends.  An unfair advantage?  Maybe, but then again, the one with the most toys in the end, wins anyway, right?  :)

Here are a few more images to illustrate the effect.

Click images for full view

 

Matrox gave us the chance to play a little Quake 3 and Jedi Knight II Outcast, on a Triple Head Surround Gaming setup.  When we first saw the displays in action, we were simply awe struck.  The effect was amazing and gave a whole new perspective (literally) to the gaming experience.  The good news is that, for most titles, this feature will be another "out of the box" experience, since developers will not have to do much if anything to support it .  Most all Quake 3 engine based games have support for "FOV" (Field Of View) adjustments via the consol, for example.  This gets Matrox off to a good start, with titles like Quake 3, Soldier Fortune, Jedi Knight II and Return To Castle Wolfenstein,  already geared up and ready to rumble. 

Soldier of Fortune
Click images for full view
 
 

 

 
Underwater Reef Demo In Action
Click images for full view
 

Seb reels in the big one!
 
 

Jedi Knight II
 
 

Why there's ol' Seb MacDougall now, reeling in that big bad trigger fish!  You should have seen the boy's moves at the nightclub later that evening too!  Seb can troll for "keepers" in more ways than one!

 

10 bit DVD/DVDMax, Quick Matrox HQ Tour and Final Words

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The Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics - Page 5

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

By -Dave Altavilla
May 14, 2002

 

10 Bit DVD Decode and Encode With DVDMax
High end DVD output on the PC

Finally, the Parhelia 512 offers traditionally fantastic Matrox DVD output to your PC Monitor but they have the advantage of those 10 bit DACs and a full 10 bit graphics pipeline at the ready.  As a result, the Parhelia 512 can take DVD Decode, Playback and 10 bit high fidelity TV Encode to the next level. 

Matrox is claiming to be able to deliver "Home Theater" quality DVD playback to the PC, with their 10 bit Gigacolor precision driving image quality, that will rival any high end stand alone DVD player in the market.  We weren't given a demonstration of this technology, so we'll have to see it for ourselves, when testing samples arrive in our labs.

 

 

 
 

In retrospect, it is hard not to look at the Matrox Parhelia 512 with a fair amount of excitement and enthusiasm.  Ultimately, it will bring to the 3D Graphics arena, another viable and impressive alternative to NVIDIA and ATi technology.  Certainly, there are lower end mainstream chipsets from SiS and others out there but there are virtually only two options in the high end space.  That clearly is not enough choice for the consumer, in our humble opinion.  Too often, we scan the retail shelves, only to be met with several different variations on the same theme, from either NVIDIA or ATi.  Granted these current solutions are impressive and more than capable technologies in their own rights.  However, we don't think we are alone when we feel a little bit limited in our choices, from a technology standpoint.

So, we've given you a brief taste of what the people at Matrox believe the Parhelia 512 Graphics Processor will be able to deliver.  From an architectural standpoint, the chip's massive memory bandwidth, Quad Vertex Shaders, 4 Texture units and 36 stage Pixel Shader Array, certainly appear to have exponential superiority, at least on paper.  However, fill rate, bandwidth and bandwidth efficiency are the rules of the road in this race and without having functional product in our testing labs, one really can't say for sure, what levels of performance the Parhelia 512 will bring, in comparison to its rivals.

What we can tell you with some degree of certainty, is that Matrox clearly has their sites set on "High Fidelity" in terms of over all image quality.  The Anti-Aliasing we saw during our demo at Matrox HQ, was very impressive and the color saturation and texture quality, that went along with those smooth images, was easily the best we've seen to date.  Where the Parhelia 512 should really shine, is in situations where the end user has all the "eye candy" turned up to maximum detail, with 16X FAA, 64 tap anisotropic filtering and Gigacolor enabled.  With the Parhelia 512's big fat 512 bit data pipes, it should theoretically out perform just about anything in this situation.  Again, one can only be sure however, with a test board in hand, so we'll remain cautiously optimistic here.  Finally, the Multi-Monitor output and "Surround Gaming" demonstrations we were shown, were easily the most impressive display of this technology we have ever seen.  To see and play a Surround Gaming setup in person, is really a jaw dropping experience, one that will leave you wanting one for yourself.

The Parhelia 512 is slated for  release later this summer.  We've heard a few dates in June but things are still being nailed down here.  Regardless, it seems as if the entire 3D Graphics world will be watching this product launch, hoping for another serious player in the High End Gaming and Professional 3D Graphics Arena, to emerge with the next GeForce4 or Radeon 8500 "killer".  It looks likes Matrox certainly could make that a reality.  Only time will tell but we'll be here to show you what the Parhelia 512 is really capable of, when we get boards on the test bench in the HotHardware Lab.

Parting Screenshots from Matrox Headquaters!

Canadian Colors Flying High
 

Wall of Product - Matrox Engineering
 
 


The "Fish Bowl"
Matrox Competitive Analysis Lab
 

Lorenzo "LO" DelPeche
Lo-Man checks out the competitive hardware.
Got a problem with that?  Didn't think so...

 

 

Are you talkin' ta me?  Get into the HotHardware Conference Room!

 

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The Matrox Parhelia 512 High Fidelity Graphics - Page 6
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