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About S3


Type: Auxiliary
Year founded: January 1989
Location: United States of America, Fremont, California
Key figures: Dado Bonata
Industry: Computer technology
Products: GPU
Subsidiary: VIA Technologies
Website: www.s3graphics.com

The S3 Graphics company dates back to 1989. Its origins were Dado Banatao and Ronald Yara. The company successfully promoted its solutions in the computer market - it took them just two years to develop the world's first integrated GUI accelerator. The resulting product was attractive for its price and performance - the card successfully worked with graphics in 2D format. From 1990 to 1994, the company came a long way, improving its accelerators: it changed 16-bit color to True Color, worked with different types of memory, and introduced PCI support. In 1994, the 911 and 911A chips were replaced by the aforementioned Vision 864 and Vision 964, which were called "the second generation of accelerators for Windows" (with 64-bit buffer support), and improved versions of these chips, numbered 868 and 968, were the first accelerators for motion video (they had zoom support and YUV RGB conversion).

1995 was the year of the company’s heyday, the year the S3 Trio was released in all its modifications. Over the next three years, these cards became perhaps the most common computer software for image output (and somewhere the formation of monsters of the future, such as ATI, was already in full swing). They worked well, all the disadvantages were attributed to crookedly written drivers, and the pros were attributed to the genius of the developer. But the time of 3D was just around the corner - new solutions were needed.

The ViRGE card failed to become this solution - it was simply unsuccessful, and with all its letter suffixes. Three-dimensional graphics turned out to be something indigestible in its execution, and it sold well only in OEM configuration for systems where high-quality 2D rendering was necessary, and only because of the low price.

A solution to their problems was already brewing in the depths of the company - they pinned great hopes on the Savage series of cards. What S3 learned from the whole Virge saga is that it cannot afford another failure in the 3D market. Having carried out reconnaissance and thoroughly prepared, S3 went on the offensive again. In the fourth quarter of 1997, S3 Graphics owned 35% of the entire computer video card market and expected to capture another more or less substantial piece. Having released Savage 1998D in 3, and Savage 1999 in 4, the company's management was somewhat embarrassed by the market situation. The share of the closest competitors, ATI, jumped to 32% thanks to close cooperation with Intel and Steve Jobs, who said that the new Apple G3 computers would only have solutions from this company.

Something turned out to be wrong in the plans of the S3 Graphic corporation, and this despite the fact that their S3 Texture Compression, introduced thanks to the Savage chip, has become a video card industry standard. The fact is that there were very, very few games that supported working with compressed textures, and despite the fact that the chipset was able to digest tens of megabytes of textures compressed 5-6 times, it turned out to be of no use to anyone.

In the spring of 1998, the base model of almost any GPU had 8 megabytes of memory; a year later, up to 32 MB were offered for the same price. However, by this point, S3 had already made crucial mistakes, in particular by adopting a poorly designed processor architecture that did not keep up with the growing popularity of games with advanced 3D graphics. A year later, S14's market share dropped to 3%. “We put all our resources into one processor, but it turned out that the market was going in the wrong direction,” said SXNUMX vice president Andrew Wolf.


After the merger with VIA, the company practically disappeared from view. No press releases, no new products or information about them, and then bam! – it turns out that over the course of three (!) years they have been developing an accelerator with a tile-based principle of processing video information, which, even at the stage of constructing a geometric model, will detect invisible areas and will not draw them to optimize the rendering process. Thus began a new line of products from S3 - the Chrome line. Models Gamma, Delta, Uni…

Together with VIA, they developed a good product - with support for 256 megabytes of DDR memory operating at 600 MHz, all the modern gadgets needed in top games, but still it is no longer able to repeat the success of its 2D predecessor - S3 Trio. Lost time cannot be returned; competitors have grabbed the market with their teeth and are not going to let it out of control.

The times when a video card from S3 Graphics was installed on every third computer in the world are gone forever.

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