That big ol' chip
I was curious to see exactly how big this 80-million-transistor chip is, so I yanked the cooler off the GPU, only to find a big metal cap, or "heat spreader" if you wanna get fancy, on top of the chip. Like this:
So we can't tell exactly how big the chip is without probably ruining the card by pulling off the cap, and Matrox ain't saying. We do know it's fabbed by UMC on a 150nm process. I'm sticking with my estimate that it's a little bigger than Rhode Island. The metal cap is roughly the size of a former Soviet breakway republic, so I can't be far off.
The final specs
One thing we know now that we didn't before the card arrived is the final GPU and memory clock speed specifications. As we kind of expected, that hefty chip won't hit super-high clock speeds too well. The retail version of Parhelia comes in at only 220MHz, in fact, which is a little slow compared to the competition. The memory clock runs at 275MHz, or 550MHz in DDR-speak, which isn't fast enough to deliver the 20GB/s memory bandwidth Matrox initially intended. That's no big deal, though, because the GPU's clock speed is likely to be the limiting factor for performance in most situations.
There will also be an OEM or "bulk" version of Parhelia floating around out there in pre-built PCs and, most likely, at some mail-order houses. That version has a 200MHz GPU clock and 500MHz memory. The only way to tell the difference between the two cards for sure, according to Matrox, is a "B" in the model number of the bulk/OEM editions. So watch carefully. At least Matrox is being up-front about it, even though I'd prefer a better naming convention.
With that said, let's whip out the GPU table and see how the final Parhelia specs fit into the big picture. Remember, as always, that specs aren't destiny, and performance will vary. The chip table here is just a useful little guide to give you a sense of each chip's capabilities.
|Core clock (MHz)||Pixel pipelines||Peak fill rate (Mpixels/s)||Texture units per pixel pipeline||Peak fill rate (Mtexels/s)||Memory clock (MHz)||Memory bus width (bits)||Peak memory bandwidth (GB/s)|
|GeForce4 MX 440||270||2||540||2||1080||400||128||6.4|
|GeForce3 Ti 200||175||4||700||2||1400||400||128||6.4|
|GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB||250||4||1000||2||2000||444||128||7.1|
|GeForce3 Ti 500||240||4||960||2||1920||500||128||8.0|
|GeForce4 Ti 4200 64MB||250||4||1000||2||2000||500||128||8.0|
|GeForce4 Ti 4400||275||4||1100||2||2200||550||128||8.8|
|GeForce4 Ti 4600||300||4||1200||2||2400||650||128||10.4|
Let me call your attention to a few key numbers here, so you can see how Parhelia's final specs are likely to affect its performance in 3D applications.
Not only that, but efficient memory controllers and techniques like Z-buffer compression and (especially) occlusion detection (a/k/a hidden surface removal) have helped the latest NVIDIA and ATI chips alleviate the memory bandwidth bottleneck. Parhelia has a highly optimized memory controller, but it lacks occlusion detection. Regardless, memory bandwidth isn't likely to be a significant bottleneck for Parhelia cards right now.
Well, OK, maybe you don't need to duck. After all, we are dealing early revisions of Parhelia drivers. Past history tells us there's probably lots of room for optimizations and improvements in any early-rev graphics drivers.
Now, without further ado, let's look at the few benchmarks we've had time to run on this thing.
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