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First look: Matrox's Parhelia-512 GPU

Driver, bring me my polygons

MATROX'S NEW CARD hit Damage Labs late last week, and we've only had a little bit of time to spend with it since then. Not nearly enough to put together a full review of this very complex and feature-fortified graphics chip. However, what we've learned so far has been interesting enough that we'd like to share our first impressions with you. Before we go any further, though, you must read our Parhelia technology preview. It will give you an excellent introduction to Matrox's new graphics chip, complete with highly detailed explanations and even more highly smart-aleck comments. Plus, I spent a lot of time writing that thing, and then our web service clogged up and nobody read it. So indulge me.

To refresh your memory if you did read the preview the first time out, Parhelia is Matrox's first new GPU in pretty much forever, and it's a beast: 80 million transistors, 4 pixel pipelines with 4 texture units each, pixel and vertex shaders, a $399 price tag, and fully twice the memory bandwidth of a Radeon 8500. You wouldn't know it from looking at the card, necessarily. Our review unit is a final production card with 128MB of memory, and it's no larger than most video cards—and quite a bit smaller than a GeForce4 Ti 4400 or 4600.

The Parhelia 128MB card looks pretty conventional

Dual DVI outputs can serve two LCD panels or three VGA monitors via converters