S3's DeltaChrome S4 Pro - HotHardware

S3's DeltaChrome S4 Pro

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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.

Specifications & Features Of The S3 DeltaChrome S4 Pro
DirectX 9+ Specs
Vertex Shader 2.0+ and Pixel Shader 2.0+
  • DirectX 9.0 VS/PS hardware
  • 128-bit (4xFP32) vertex precision and 96-bit (4xFP24) pixel precision
  • PS - 16 concurrent texture map references per pass
  • Shadow Volume acceleration with two-sided stencil
  • Unconditional non power of 2 textures
  • Floating point render target / texture formats
  • High accuracy floating point render target for cinematic quality image rendering
  • High quality advanced 16x anisotropic filtering
  • High performance anti-aliasing with 4x multi-sampling up to 1024x768
  • Volume and cube maps for photo-realistic reflection
  • Programmable per pixel gamma correction (PS 2.0+)

Advanced Deferred Rendering

  • Hierarchical Z
  • Front-to-back, Back-to-front Z occlusion culling
  • Incorporated zero-cycle clear
  • Reduced Z buffer write and read
  • Triangle mask optimization (Vertex elimination) V8 Pixel Pipeline
  • Full 8 pixel pipeline
  • 2.4 Trilinear filtered Giga pixels per second fill rate
  • Full floating point calculation precision
  • Programmable cache for engine speed and efficiency
  • Unified super wide pipeline for seamless 2D/3D/Video context switching
  • Optimized advanced shading dependency read pipelines
  • Programmable render target blending (PS2.0+)
  • Programmable depth shader (PS 2.0+)

Chromotion Programmable Video engine

  • IDCT hardware support
  • Motion compensation
  • S340 uncompressed format support
  • Per pixel adaptive de-interlacing (PS2.0+)
  • MPEG -2/-4 hardware acceleration
  • Windows Media Video hardware acceleration
  • 4x4 programmable kernel filter video scaling (PS2.0+)
  • Microsoft Video Mixing Renderer support
  • Real time post processing (PS2.0+)
  • ArtisticLicense real-time video effects (PS2.0+)

 

Highly Integrated Mobile Features
  • 7th Generation DuoView (extended desktop)
  • Up to 128MB of integrated frame buffer memory
  • 2 channel LVDS transmitter for LCD panels up to 2048x1536
  • 2 Channel 165MHz, 12-bit digital TMDS port
  • Full Clock gating for major functional blocks
  • Dynamic voltage and frequency scaling
  • Pulse width modulation for panel lighting control
  • High quality bilinear LCD panel scaling
  • CRT display up to 2048x1536 75Hz resolution
  • DVI display up to 1600x1200 resolution
  • AGP 8X
  • 256 MB frame buffer
  • 128 bit DDR memory interface
Integrated Hi-Def HDTV & Standard TV Encoder
  • 480p/720p/1080i/1080p component (YPbPr) output
  • 4:4:4 conversion with 10 bit DAC resolution
  • Full desktop view in HDTV mode
  • 480i standard TV output (S-video, composite)
  • Macrovision enabled for 480i/p mode
  • 2/3 tap flicker filter with programmable coefficients
  • PC2001 specification support
  • NTSC/PAL support for standard TV mode
  • Vertical over-/underscan compensation
  • 2x Oversampling for premium image quality
  • Adaptive aperture correction
  • Full range RGB to YUV color space conversion with Hue, Saturation and Contrast adjustment
  • Smooth vertical overscan compensation with programmable contraction factor

High Performance 400MHz 10-bit CRT DAC

  • 1+ billion colors (Giga-Palette)
  • 2048x1536 QXGA (3.1M) display resolution capable
  • Ultra low power consumption
  • Excellent INL/DNL characteristics (+/- 1 LSB)
  • Dual mode compatible (HDTV/CRT)

Advanced Display Features

  • Hardware display rotation for TabletPC (90, 180, 270)
  • Dual CRT support
  • Hardware color cursors
  • Up to 256 MB frame buffer
  • First class utilities with S3 Screen Toys

             

            

            

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.

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