We didn’t test the pixel shader performance with only one single program, of course. We have also tested the new S3 product in 3DMark 2001 SE and 3DMark03 test packages.
The new DeltaChrome won’t set the world on fire and demonstrates pretty average results: it processes pixel shaders version 1.1 as fast as GeForce FX 5700 Ultra in two resolutions out of three. I have to admit that S3 has improved the drivers since the times of the first DeltaChrome, because at that time the newcomer could only outperform GeForce FX 5600 Ultra, and now it can compete with a faster GeForce FX 5700 Ultra solution. However, DeltaChrome, as well as GeForce FX, is completely ruined by the RV360 architecture from ATI, which proves much more efficient when processing pixel shaders.
When we shift to pixel shaders version 1.4, RADEON gets so far ahead that the competitors cannot even see it any longer. Nevertheless, DeltaChrome S8 Nitro manages to stay at the level with GeForce FX 5700 Ultra and even to outpace it a little bit.
Pixel shaders 2.0 demand much more from the graphics processor architecture than the version 1.1 and 1.4. No wonder that both DeltaChrome modifications appear pretty slow here. GeForce FX benefits from high working frequencies, fast memory and shader code compiler integrated into the Force Ware driver. Nevertheless, DeltaChrome S8 Nitro performs quite fine in 1024x768, but then the gap between the newcomer and GeForce FX 5700 Ultra grows bigger due to super-fast memory of the latter. As for the advantage of ATI RADEON, no comments are necessary I suppose: the diagram is more than illustrative.
Now let’s check what ShaderMark 2.0 will reveal. As usual, this test package didn’t recognize DeltaChrome S8 Nitro as fully compatible with DierctX 9 specification and provided the following results:
The driver improvements are more than evident: with the new drivers the performance of DeltaChrome S8 Nitro is not as low as that of the predecessor. Of course, S3 graphics processors cannot catch up with RADEON 9600 XT, but they can easily compete with the praised shader compiler from NVIDIA. The situation is quite ambiguous: DeltaChrome S8 Nitro can process some shaders faster than NVIDIA GeForce 5700 Ultra, though in all other cases this VPU yields to the rival. So, S3 managed to raise the shader performance of its DeltaChrome to the level of GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, which will definitely have a positive effect on the gaming performance of this solution. We are going to dwell on this supposition and the actual games in a section devoted to gaming performance, so read on!
I don’t think DeltaChrome S8 Nitro will be able to catch up with RADEON 9600 XT: this is the price you have to pay for the flexibility of DeltaChrome architecture and higher functionality than the minimal DirectX 9 requirements. In other words, S3 DeltaChrome looks somewhat similar to NVIDIA NV3x family, although S3 stakes the 8-pipeline architecture rather than higher memory and chip frequencies.