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S3 to power Intel PC-on-a-chip's 3D graphics

Meanwhile, Savage4 gains many more supporters

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Intel's favourite 3D graphics specialist, S3, today announced a heap of statistics to show it's growing strength in the PC graphics arena. Hints also emerged about the company's future products, including a possible 3D-enabled PC-on-a-chip part, jointly developed with Intel. The numbers centred on the success S3 is having with its Savage4 3D acceleration chip-set. The company claimed it had signed up 36 new customers this year, and was on target to make over $150 million out of the deals. The 36 include Far Eastern motherboard vendors Acer, Samsung and AsusTek, plus graphics card suppliers Diamond Multimedia, Creative Technology and Number Nine, and three of the top five PC manufacturers. Such wins will be essential if S3 is to turn around its loss-making financial circumstances. The company's last figures, for the fourth quarter of 1998, reported a loss of $70.3 million on revenues of $41.6 million. The year before, it had achieved sales of $101.9 million. Revenue for the full year totalled $224.6 million, compared to $436.34 million in 1997. S3's 1998 loss was $113.2 million. Theses figures largely resulted from S3's problems keeping up with most rival vendors and ATI in particular. However, the patent-licensing deal the company last year struck with Intel does appear to be paying off, and has allowed it to get a lead on the latest Intel graphics technology, such as AGP 4x. Intriguingly, S3 is believed to be working on a version of Savage4 for PC-on-a-chip products. That's likely to be a joint development program with Intel, which now owns chip integration specialist Chips and Technologies, snapped up to give the Great Stan the system-on-a-chip development expertise that it lacked. A PC-on-a-chip product incorporating fast 3D graphics acceleration would give Intel a lead over NatSemi. Its Cyrix subsidiary is also working to add 3D graphics to its latest PC-on-a-chip designs, but largely on its own. Having a brandname accelerator like Savage4 on-board would give the Intel part a major boost -- in marketing terms as well as for performance reasons. ®

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