S3 GammaChrome S18 Pro Video Card Review :: Introduction

04-26-2005 · Category: Hardware - Video Cards

By Benjamin Sun

I have reviewed many a video card in the last few years from several manufacturers. It has struck me as to how many video card companies have fundamentally changed or left the market since NVIDIA was founded in 1993. Some companies like Matrox have completely exited the high-end graphics market, simply refreshing their last graphics core to meet niche markets. Other companies like 3dfx simply do not exist in any form today. S3 was one of the oldest graphics card companies dating back to the late 1980s at least. The S3 Virge was the first video card to support 3D in hardware. It actually was a decelerator, as it was faster in software mode than in hardware mode. In 2000 the S3 graphics division was bought by VIA Corporation after the near disastrous release of the S3 Savage 2000 chipset in 1999 and the bankruptcy and divesture of most of S3's assets in early 2000.

2003 saw the announcement of the S3 DeltaChrome, the first new video chipset from the venture of VIA since they purchased S3 Graphics. The DeltaChrome was an AGP card released into the market place in the middle of 2004. It is interesting that S3 took so long to get their first new card into the market, and unfortunately, by the time the DeltaChrome actually reached store shelves, the card was underpowered and had lackluster performance, especially when compared to the intended market. Recently Intel introduced the 925 and 915 chipsets. This heralded a new generation of CPUs, motherboards, memory type (DDR2), video card interface (PCI Express X16 slot for graphics), form-factor (BTX) and audio technologies (HDA). Video card manufacturers quickly jumped on the new PCI Express bus, but S3 did not introduce their first PCI Express card until now, with the GammaChrome.