S3 DeltaChrome S8 Graphics Card
Our today’s hero arrived in our lab absolutely “naked”: just a graphics card and nothing with it, even the CD-disc with the drivers was missing. The matter is that this sample of DeltaChrome based graphics card was not a retail product, but a pre-production sample. Nevertheless, the card looked very nice and made a very positive impression right away.
The aristocratic PCB color, neat mounting, no temporary wiring, all this seemed very pleasing. It is interesting that the PCB is equipped with a variable resistor. I don’t know what it was actually meant for, but decided not to touch it in order not to damage the sample.
The PCB design is very simple. It is hardly any heavier than the design of the RADEON 9600 XT. The BIOS chip is located on the right together with the Silicon Image Sil64CT64 TMDS-transmitter. All power supply circuits are laid out in the upper left corner of the PCB. Judging by the number and size of the elements, DeltaChrome really does consume very little power, just like S3 Graphics claims. Despite the 0.13micron manufacturing process, the card is still equipped with an additional power supply connector, which has already become a common thing nowadays, I should say. Nevertheless, ATI RADEON 9600 PRO and 9600 XT do not have this connector and are quite happy with the power they get through the AGP slot.
The PCB is equipped with 8 K4D263238E-GC2A memory chips from Samsung with 2.8ns access time. The memory working frequency in our case was 300MHz (600MHz DDR). The core also worked at 300MHz. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to remove the cooler from the chip, because it was deadly stuck to it, that is why we cannot tell you what chip revision our sample is based on. The cooler was a ChromeOrb from ThermalTake, however, I am sure that it is a temporary solution, because it is pretty tall and occupies the next PCI slot. Besides, it produces quite loud noise, because of the high-speed fan used in it. Since the chip consumes only about 4W of power, it will feel quite fine with a small cooling solution like those used on RADEON 9600 PRO, for instance.
I didn’t manage to carry out any overclocking experiments with our solution, because even though the latest PowerStrip version did recognize the graphics adapter correctly, it refused to allow any overclocking: both engines responsible for core and memory frequencies tweaking stayed passive gray. As for 2D image quality, it proved pretty good: in all resolutions up to 1600x1200x75Hz the text remained pretty clear. In 1600x1200x85Hz we noticed some slight blurring. Of course, it is hard to evaluate the 2D image quality with just an engineering sample at hand, because it will finally depend on the graphics card manufacturer. It is quite possible that some DeltaChrome based graphics cards will boast crystal-clear image, while the solutions from less responsible manufacturers who decided to save on the PCB design may “please” the users with irritating blurring in 1024x768 and up. Anyway, if you have an LCD display with DVI interface, you do not have any causes for concern anyway, because the image quality in your case doesn’t depend on the graphics accelerator at all.