Introduction, Specifications & The Card
We get to test and evaluate quite a few high-end video cards here in the HotHardware labs. Over the past few months, we've previewed numerous Radeon 9800 XTs and GeForce FX 5950 Ultras, and cards based on ATi's and NVIDIA's latest Radeon X800 and GeForce 6800 GPUs have also begun to trickle in recently. Burning through our suite of benchmarks with these enthusiast-class products can be very interesting, and seeing these cards for the first time gets the hardware community extremely excited. But the simple fact of the matter is that these high-end cards make up only small portion of the overall 3D graphics market. Much more affordable entry-level and midrange products far outsell even the most popular enthusiast-class products.
Today at HotHardware, we're going to take a look at S3's latest entry-level GPU, the DeltaChrome S4. The S4 has all of the same features of the eight-pipeline DeltaChrome S8 we previewed back in March, but it has only four pixel pipelines. S3 may not be combating the likes of ATi or NVIDIA at the high end with the S4, but they hope to gain a foothold in the entry-level space, with an inexpensive feature-rich product that's competitive at the low end.
|Vertex Shader 2.0+ and Pixel Shader 2.0+
Advanced Deferred Rendering
Chromotion Programmable Video engine
|Highly Integrated Mobile Features
High Performance 400MHz 10-bit CRT DAC
Advanced Display Features
S3 DeltaChrome S4
Core Clock Speed: 300MHz (Pixel Pipelines: 4)
Memory Clock Speed: 300MHz (Memory Bus Width: 128 bits)
Peak Fillrate: 1.2GPixels/s
Maximum Memory Bandwidth: 9.6GB/s
The S3 DeltaChrome S4 reference board we received for review is based on the exact same design used with the eight-pipeline DeltaChrome S8. Although the S4 has only half of the pixel pipelines of the S8, the GPUs are pin-compatible, so S3 won't have to redesign the PCB to use the S4. If you look at the comparison shot at the lower right, you'll see that except for the color, the S8 and S4 are installed on the exact same four-layer PCB. In fact, both boards are labeled as "VT8271E".
This particular model has its GPU clocked at 300MHz and is equipped with 128MB of Samsung RAM, also clocked at 300MHz (600MHz DDR). A quick trip to Samsung's Web site reveals that the memory installed on this card (K4D261638E-TC33) is rated for a maximum of 300MHz (600MHz DDR), so there may not be much headroom left for overclocking. S3 also has a six-layer PCB design at their disposal that uses BGA memory chips that can be clocked higher, but the six-layer PCB and BGA memory are more expensive, so they probably won't be used with the S4. This is, after all, an entry-level product with an entry-level price tag.
The card is equipped with a single DB-15 connector and a single DVI connector to drive analog and digital displays (two simultaneously), and it also has an HDTV / Video output. Using either a standard S-Video cable or the supplied dongle, users can connect the DeltaChrome S4 to any HDTV, S-Video, or Composite video device.