Finally, SiS decided to separate its graphics division into an independent company, which still belonged to SiS. So, this happened. The new company was called XGI (eXtreme Graphics Inc., according to the company officials) and started working on June 1, 2003. The rumored Xabre II project started taking a more or less material form inside the new company, having lost its initial name though, because XGI had no right for the Xabre trademark. Moreover, on June 12, 2003 the company announced their acquisition of the Trident Microsystems graphics division, which was supposed to strengthen its potential.
Note that the year 2002 was extremely unhappy for Trident: DirectX 8.1 chip aka Blade XP4 suffered a total fiasco. It failed to get through to the desktop market and at the same time didn’t become any popular in the mobile PC market.
A few months after XGI Company had been established, they felt so confident that they announced their vital intention to become profitable within the next three years. The company really decided to seriously tackle the 3D graphics market, instead of focusing on the low-end products, as they had been doing before. This was a very optimistic announcement for a company, which has been very unlucky in the graphics market for a long time.
Then September came…
New Chips – New Opportunities?
On September 16, 2003 the rumors have finally come true: XGI announced a new DirectX 9.0 graphics processor family. Since they couldn’t use the Xabre name for a number of reasons, the newcomer was called Volari. According to the graphics market traditions, the family was split into a few models differing from one another by working frequencies and pipelines configuration.
The top model in the new family appeared Volari V8 Ultra working at 350MHz core frequency and featuring 8 rendering pipelines. Volari V8 differed from the top model by the working frequency only, which was equal to 300MHz. As we have expected, Volari V5 Ultra also worked at 350MHz core clock frequency, but was equipped with only 4 rendering pipelines. And Volari V5 in its turn differed from the Ultra version by lower working frequency.
Unfortunately, the architecture of these new solutions caused some concerns about their performance. The thing is that Volari featured only two vertex processors, while RADEON 9500/9700/9800 boasted four of them, and GeForce FX 5700/5900/5950 featured three vertex processors. As for the pixel shader units, Volari V8/Ultra were provided with 4 units like that, and Volari V5/Ultra – with two. Besides, the entire family featured 128bit DDR or DDR-II memory bus for each chip.
Well, it looked as if they has already lost the fight even before it actually started. But then XGI suddenly made an unexpected move. The company made it possible to use the new chips in dual-chip configurations, which has been forgotten since the times of 3dfx Voodoo5 5500.
The new DirectX 9.0 features, enhanced memory controller, dual-chip configurations support: can it be true that XGI Volari is more than SiS Xabre II?