A Little Bit of History
It has happened so historically that the cut-throat competition in the 3D graphics market is mostly created by such monsters as ATI Technologies and NVIDIA Corporation. However, other, less popular players also pop up there from time to time, representing serious threat and trying to win a tasty piece of the market for themselves. We have already told you about S3 Graphics Company, which has undertaken an attempt like that (see our article called The Return of S3: DeltaChrome Graphics Card Review). Today we are going to talk about XGI Technology.
The name of XGI Technology hides none other but the graphics division of Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS), which has been announced a separate independent company in the middle of 2003, and Trident Graphics, which was purchased from trident Microsystems last summer.
SiS and Trident Companies were pretty well-known in the graphics market in mid 90s of the past century. However, when the graphics market evolved to 3-dimensional environment they lost their entire popularity by the end of the decade. Although they undertook numerous attempts to return to the 3D graphics market, none of them appeared a success. If Trident Graphics chips enjoyed some demand in the mobile PC market, then in the desktop field NVIDIA and ATI didn’t leave them any hope at all.
Nevertheless, the engineering team from SiS, which has been long working on the new graphics processors, continued developing their Xabre project. The first supplies of these DirectX 8.1-compatible VPUs were shipped in April 2002.
This product family was quite progressive from the technological point of view, however, it was not free from a couple of serious drawbacks, unfortunately. One of the major disadvantages of the Xabre solution from SiS appeared the absence of hardware vertex shader unit, so that the system CPU had to do this work itself. But a real stumbling stone for Xabre, which then determined its failure in the market, was low-quality drivers and the so-called turbo-texturing mode. Hunting for high competitive results at any rate, the company introduced the so-called turbo-texturing mode, which boosted the performance by reducing the texturing quality quite significantly. Of course, turbo-texturing allowed Xabre solutions to run as fast as NVIDIA GeForce3, but the resulting 3D picture was a total disaster: the image quality was simply catastrophic! Moreover, the chip couldn’t perform anisotropic filtering, and that was in 2002 already! Together with the absence of the quality settings in the drivers, all these issues couldn’t help telling on Xabre’s fortune: the solution hasn’t become any popular in the market. The launching of Xabre 600 didn’t change the state of things, because the only difference of this chip from the predecessors was its higher working frequency and integrated VIVO support. (Read more about Xabre solutions from SiS in our articles called Xabre The Brave: New 3D Hero from SiS and SiS Xabre600 Graphics Chip Review: SiS' Newcomer against Competitors from NVIDIA and ATI)