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S3 launches mobile graphics market attack

Brings Savage 4 to notebooks

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Updated Intel's favourite 3D graphics company, S3, will today unveil its bid to dominate the emerging notebook graphics market, as we reported here back in March. Based on S3's Savage 4 architecture, the Savage IX and Savage MX are aimed at OEMs keen to target power-hungry gamers and business users, respectively. Traditionally, the notebook market hasn't been noted for fast graphics, largely because the screens couldn't hack it. But with fast TFT displays now standard, as near as dammit, graphics companies are scenting OEM sales opportunities. Of course, given the biggest base of 3D acceleration products are gamers, and gamers would probably rather buy a top-spec. desktop than a notebook containing a processor knobbled by the need to keep its power consumption down, it's questionable how much of an opportunity this really is. Still, with OEMs never keener to differentiate their products as margins plummet, maybe the punters don't matter too much at this stage. And with S3 trying to regain its former glory as the leading supplier graphics of graphics to OEMs, you can't really blame it for pursuing the notebook side of the business. S3 claimed both chips offer "desktop equivalent" performance, and that they were over three times faster than the nearest "would be" competitor. S3's main rival here is, of course, ATI -- its Mobility chip scored 150 on WinBench 3D, said S3, compared to the S3 part's 500. The tests were performed on a 450MHz Pentium III, and its curious that S3 doesn't mention whether any or all of the drivers used support the PIII's Streaming SIMD Extensions. Both chips are engineered at 0.18 microns and come with up to 16MB of integrated video RAM. Both offer DVD playback, 2D acceleration and support the connection of up to five displays. The chips are AGP 2x compatible. The IX version is available in 4MB, 8MB and 16MB configurations for $49, $56 and $68, respectively. The MX release, only available with 4MB, costs $42. S3 said it expects notebooks based on the parts to begin shipping in September. ®

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