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.
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.?
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 you?ve made over the past few months with
regard to driver development?
Nadeem: We were very
impressed with your testing process and review coverage.
I?m 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
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
OpenGL applications, we?ve noticed you don?t 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 S3?s
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.
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 product?s 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.