With VIA Technologies having purchased the remnants, S3 marked their return to graphics with their DeltaChrome series. The introduction of DeltaChrome was in itself a fairly impressive achievement as it heralded DirectX9 compliance with Shader Model 2.0 capabilities, at a time where it looked increasingly as though only ATI and NVIDIA would have the resources to implement such functionality.

DeltaChrome S8 was intended to be a mid level part, with 8 rendering pipelines, with S4 introduced later for the entry level market. However, with the inexperience in the current market, facing what are now two relatively huge forces in ATI and NVIDIA, slow entry to market and a driver code base starting from scratch meant that DeltaChrome hardly made any dent in the overall graphics market-share.

With the PC industry now transitioning over to the PCI Express interface S3 are taking the opportunity to give their DirectX9 architecture a little spring clean along with changing graphics interface from AGP over to PCI Express with the new “GammaChrome” series. Here, courtesy of Club3D and S3 we’ll take an early look at the performance of the first GammaChrome implementation in its S18 Nitro configuration.

The Graphics Chip

Here are the details of the graphics chip behind the GammaChrome S18 boards:

Chip Name S18
Silicon Process 130nm (TSMC)
Die Size 121mm²
[11mm (w) x 11mm (h)]
Packaging Flipchip
Pipeline Configuration 4 / 4 / 4
(Textures / Pixels / Z Samples per clock)
Memory Interface 128-bit (64x2 Crossbar)
DirectX Capability DX9.0 - VS2.0, PS2.0
Display Dual 10-bit, 400MHz RAMDAC's; Dual Channel 165MHz TMDS Transmitter; TV/HDTV Output
Host Interface PCI Express x16

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Although we are looking at a desktop implementation of GammaChrome S18 here, the chip does feature clock gating and dynamic voltage and frequency scaling that will be of benefit to mobile implementations.