Articles: Graphics

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Once upon a time, about five or eight years ago, the PC graphics market was quite different to its current self. Nobody could imagine then that NVIDIA would ever be able to buy 3dfx or rather the remains of that firm, that Matrox would leave the graphics field altogether, that S3 Graphics would be nearly forgotten, that ATI Technologies would ever be the leader… Users had other names on their tongues. Our today’s review is about one such once-prominent name – Diamond Multimedia. If you was around in the second half of the 1990-s, you probably recall something about this company?

Diamond Multimedia took a neutral approach to making relationships with graphics chip makers. Without swearing its allegiance to any particular brand, this company was producing graphics adapters of Viper, Stealth and Monster series on chips from S3, 3dfx, NVIDIA and others. Moreover, in the remote 1995, Diamond supported the fresh and young NVIDIA by releasing a complex multimedia solution Diamond EDGE 3D (on the NV1 chip), which was both a graphics adapter and an audio card. Besides making graphics cards, the company was also into audio card, modem and even mainboard businesses.

The red-white Diamond logo and Viper, Monster and Stealth brands were well known to users who wanted to get the best products. Probably, these were the most popular brands of that time. The company was flourishing, moving into new markets, for example into the market of portable MP3 players.

In the June of 1999, S3 Graphics announced its purchase of Diamond Multimedia. The deal amounted to $180 million. Ken Potashner, president of the company, said the aim of the deal was to diversify the technological basis of S3 Graphics and achieve profitability because S3 had been doing not very well. For example, they ended the year 1997 with a loss of $113.2 million. The companies were talking about a future integration of their graphics chip and card manufactures.

I guess you know the end of the story. S3 Graphics was doing ever worse and in the end it sold its graphics division to VIA Technologies on April 11, 2000, for $323 million. As a result of the internal restructuring, S3 transformed into SONICblue, but remained a co-holder (with VIA) of S3 Graphics stock. As you know, the fate of S3 Graphics was rather hazy: VIA’s new division never showed up in the desktop graphics market, but was quite active in the sector of integrated graphics solutions. Soon the name of S3 was not mentioned anymore by those who were interested in 3D graphics. As for the Diamond brand, it remained property of SONICblue, although they didn’t produce graphics cards. In July 2000, S3 announced its closing the Diamond Multimedia division, in favor of the Rio division, which was producing network and multimedia products. Since then, the very name of Diamond was forgotten and erased from memories of PC enthusiasts of that time.

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