Rendition Verite V1000
Rendition entered the market in 1996 with the Vérité V1000, a card with 2D and 3D acceleration. It was one of the fastest boards you could find on the market. It was not able to beat the 3DFX Voodoo but offered better value than the competitor that was limited to 3D and required an accompanying 2D solution.
The graphics chip itself was based on the RISC design and connected up to 4 MB of EDO RAM on a 64-bit bus. The board unfortunately had compatibility problems with different motherboards and its 2D performance chased the competing products. These factors prevented Rendition from getting the feedback he hoped for with his V1000.
Rendition Verite V2100 and V2200
The Vérité V2100 and V2200 were almost identical to the V1000 at the hardware level. The company improved the V1000 project and almost doubled the chip’s fill rate. These cards operated at slightly higher frequencies and used faster memory, offering modest performance improvements.
The V2100 and V2200 differed in two key areas: the last one offered higher frequencies and had 4 or 8 MB of SGRAM, while the former was slightly slower and limited to 4 MB of SGRAM. After these two cards Rendition tried to design a new graphics chip, but it was postponed several times. Rendition ended up being acquired by Micron.
S3 entered the graphic market in the early 90s. He produced 2D accelerators for several years, then coming to the Trio series. Although that family consisted mainly of 2D cards, its final incarnation was the Trio3D, a 3D card with a 128-bit chip flanked by a maximum of 4 MB of RAM.
S3 introduced the ViRGE line in 1995, a brand that it continued to use until 1998. The ViRGE was able to handle 2D and 3D acceleration. Early models had access to 2 or 4 MB of EDO RAM on 64-bit buses, but the later versions had 8 MB.
Unlike other best graphics card for gaming of the time the ViRGE was a single-chip solution. This made it less expensive and easier to produce. To put all the necessary hardware in one die, S3 dedicated less resources to 3D calculation. As a result the ViRGE was not the fastest video gaming card. Although the 3D abilities were not impressive, the card provided incredible 2D performance and was known as one of the fastest 2D accelerators of the moment.
The S3 Savage3D came in 1998. The design was completely new and had advanced features such as the Trilinear filter, 24-bit Z-buffer, hardware accelerated motion compensation and alpha blending for MPEG-2 video decoding, an integrated TV encoder and texture compression. S3 opted for a two pipeline design: one was used exclusively for rendering and the other for texture processing. The Savage3D had 8 MB of RAM, less than the competing solutions.
Although the Savage3D was rich in features, it was a failure. The performance of the Savage3D was lower than its competitors and S3 had to face several challenges that affected the sales of the board.
S3 continued to improve the Savage3D project by creating the Savage4. The company solved many of the problems of the architecture and passed to the 250 nanometer S3, succeeding in producing the Savage4 with relative ease.
When the Savage4 was marketed in 1999 it found itself dealing with the strong competition of Riva TNT2 by Nvidia and the Voodoo3 by 3DFX. It was definitely slower than those cards but had a good set of features and was cheaper.
S3 Savage 2000
Later in 1999 S3 and the well-known OEM Diamond Multimedia merged to form a new company called SONICblue. S3 wanted to avoid the production problems it had with other Savage cards using Diamond as a dedicated producer. The two companies also wanted to increase profits, which would ordinarily be divided between S3 and different OEMs.
The first joint product was the S3 Savage 2000. This new project had dedicated transform and lighting hardware, but it did not work properly. The board also had a fast quad-texture engine capable of placing four textures per clock cycle. The card also had several other improvements to increase the performance, and a good 32 MB of SDRAM.
Tests showed that the S3 Savage 200 was definitely faster than the previous model. Sometimes it was even quick enough to get to Nvidia’s GeForce 256. The card had serious driver problems though and suffered from some other flaws that undermined its possibilities compared to more stable competition.
In 2001, S3 split up from SONICblue and was sold to VIA . Given that S3 faced strong competition in the dedicated GPU market, VIA chose to end the development of dedicated best graphics card for gaming. The company used S3’s graphics technology to improve the chips on its motherboards. Several of these early iGPUs were essentially identical to the Savage4 and Savage 2000, and were marketed under the name Savage. With the later VIA platforms, he rebranded the graphics chip like Chrome. VIA tried to re-enter the dedicated best graphics card for gaming market several times, but it did not succeed because of the competition from ATI / AMD and Nvidia. In 2011, VIA sold the shares of S3 to HTC . S3 still exists today but focuses on low-power graphic technologies for integrated devices.