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S3 Graphics, a struggling developer of graphics processing units (GPUs) and a subsidiary of Via Technologies, reportedly plans to release a lineup of DirectX 10-compatible Chrome 4 graphics chips by the end of the year. The move will allow it to revive sales of its graphics cards, but will hardly return S3 back into the global market of discrete graphics cards.

The new S3 Graphics Chrome 4 lineup will consist of two chips: the Chrome 460, which is projected to be made using 90nm process technology and is fully compatible with DirectX 10, as well as the Chrome 430, which is expected to be manufactured using 65nm fabrication technology and is clamed to support DirectX 10.1 specification. The new chips will feature native support for HDMI connector as well as HDCP technology and will use PCI Express 1.0 interface.

Both chips will be manufactured by Fujitsu and have already entered the design verification test stage. Volume production is expected to start before the end of the year, reports DigiTimes web-site.

The new chips from S3 Graphics in nearly two years will be aimed at mainstream and entry-level markets, which means that S3 will not compete for high-performance market this round as well, meaning the lack of “halo” effect and lackluster welcome by the market.

Considering that both Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia Corp. are pretty aggressive in terms of releasing new graphics products, even if S3 succeeds in creating chips competitive against contemporary ATI Radeon HD 2600/2400 and Nvidia GeForce 8600/8500/8400, it will not enjoy its victory for long, as both leading GPU designers update their product lineups once every six months. Nevertheless, it still makes sense for S3 Graphics to proceed with discrete GPU development because its parent company Via Technologies needs graphics cores to integrate into its chipsets.

In order to somewhat revitalize sales of its discrete GPUs, S3 and Via will pair S3’s Chrome 4 chips with Via’s microprocessors and chipsets, creating inexpensive low-power multimedia platforms for cost-efficient computers.

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