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  S3 Chrome S25 & S27 Technology Overview

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Features & Performance

nVidia and ATI have had the speed crowns for quite some time. The last real competitor to them was 3dfx, and that was years ago.  S3 is definitely coming around, however. You aren't going to see any screaming speeds with these cards - Even with the 700MHz clock of the S27, you're looking at performance that is roughly on-par with a GeForce 6600.  That isn't anything to shy away from, though GF 6600 level performance with a card that is feature rich and power friendly may be just what is needed. Just how feature rich are these cards though?

S25:

  • PCIE 16x Compatible

  • GPU Clock 600MHz

  • Memory Clock 400MHz

  • 32 or 64bit 128MB Memory Bus

  • DDR1, DDR2

S27:

  • PCIE 16x Compatible

  • GPU Clock 700MHz

  • Memory Clock 700MHz

  • 128bit Memory Bus

  • DDR1, DDR2, DDR3

  • MultiChrome

The cards will not support Pixel Shader 3.0 (in hardware), but do support Pixel Shader 2.0 which the majority of current-day 3D applications make use of. With ample clock speed, and configurations at 128MB of RAM, the figures provided by S3 place the ChromeS27 in the realm tad above the 6600. Since review samples are not available yet, it is difficult to provide solid numbers except those provided by S3. There are some features worth noting however, such as MultiChrome, Chromomotion 3.0, HiDef support and some others.

I asked Nadeem directly about the output of the cards. Though many cards support HD out, there are cases where a card is not capable of doing full HD out or does interlacing in order to achieve high resolutions. Not so in the case of the S25 and S27, which will natively support all common HD resolutions for output purposes. This is important in media machines, especially those used on non-PC displays.

  • 1080 x 1920 support for 60i and 30/24p

  • 720 x 1280 support for 60i and 30/24p

  • 480 x 704 support for 60p, 60i, 30/24p

  • 480 x 640 support for 60p, 60i, 30/24p

You may notice the lack of full 60p support at highest output resolutions, though that is still a rare find, and doing interlaced 60FPS output for HDTV is pretty standard, and when done natively looks good. We'll have to wait to see the cards in action before we can judge visual quality, though in the past the Unichrome series has offered very decent 2D appearance. Both cards also implement the "PureFlow" technology, which does not convert to RGB before passing visual data to the encoder, meaning theoretically you should have no quality loss in using a standard TV or HDTV display versus a monitor.

All in all, performance is not going to be up to par versus top tier desktop cards. Moreover, if the figures given are accurate, depending on price these cards may end up being a perfect entry-level solution, and perhaps a golden media center solution. The cards will carry Vista support, and apparently will be enough to run the next generation of Windows just fine.

To me, visual quality is often more important than speed, especially when dealing with video and video playback. The S3 cards natively support various image-enhancing filters, such as the ability to vary the interlacing method used on screen at different spots, depending on what would look better.



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