AMD is no longer the only company with graphics processors that support Microsoft’s DirectX 10.1 graphics standard. And yet Nvidia still hasn’t hopped on the DX 10.1 bandwagon just yet. So who’s the other contender?
AMD’s newfound rival is none other than S3 Graphics, whose newly announced Chrome 400 graphics processor introduces support for many of the same goodies as AMD’s latest GPUs. There’s DX 10.1 support, of course, together with a programmable unified shader architecture, Blu-ray/HD DVD playback capability with H.264 video hardware acceleration, and PCI Express 2.0 support. The GPU is based on 65nm process technology. On the connectivity front, you’ll find outputs for dual-link DVI with HDCP encryption, HDMI, and DisplayPort. The Chrome 400 even mimics the HyperMemory functionality of AMD’s low-end GPUs, allowing Chrome 400-based cards to use a combination of integrated and system memory.
Of course, AMD is probably in no danger of seeing the thunder of its Radeon HD 3000-series cards stolen. S3 says the Chrome 400 is intended for "energy-efficient desktop and notebook platforms" that require "extreme power-efficiency and rigidly low thermal specifications." The chip’s memory interface is only 64 bits wide, making it akin to today’s sub-$100 mainstream GPUs. Then again, S3 claims the Chrome 400 delivers "super gaming performance," so it could have some surprises in store.