Here's a brief overview of the Savage2000:
2 multi-textured pixels/clock
Single-pass quad texture engine
Up to 64MB memory
Core clock up to 200MHz
Memory clock up to 200MHz
Transform & lighting engine
HW emboss bump mapping and Dot3 bump mapping
S3 Texture Compression S3TC
32-bit color rendering
Full screen anti-aliasing
DX7 & OpenGL compliant
Range-based, vertex & table fog
Specular lighting/diffuse shading
128-bit 2D graphics engine
Dynamic multi-tap scaling
3rd generation motion compensation
Subpicture blending and highlights
Fully compliant VIP 2.0 port
Multiple HW video windows
Digital interface port to NTSC/PAL TV encoders
Digital interface to FP encoders
Resolutions up to 2048 x 1536
Too good to be true?
Our first reaction to the Savage2000 was disbelief. After getting inundated with a slew of Savage3D/Savage4 revisions, we were lulled into a sense of complacency. We thought that any S3 product with the Savage name automatically designated it as an entry level 3D chip. That's why we weren't exactly excited when Paul Crossley, PR Manager from S3, asked us if we wanted to cover the Savage2000 product announcement. We agreed to cover it because: A) We wanted to maintain a good relationship with S3 and B) Paul's a helluva nice guy. Soon enough we discovered that the Savage2000 was the name S3 gave the GX4. It was the S3 next generation chip!
The Savage2000 has a dual pixel/dual texture pipeline. With a 175/175MHz core/memory clock, you get a 350Mpixels/s and 700Mtexels/s. Our eyes kind of glazed over when we looked over the rest of the specs. The Savage2000 has all the prerequisites for a next generation card, and it looks like S3 did a little extra credit on the DVD/HDTV side.
The Savage2000's Mtexel number is particularly impressive. Combine that 700Mtexels/s fill rate with onboard T&L and you have a serious contender in the 3D arena. Savage2000 based cards aren't really in the same market segment as GeForce 256 based cards. The estimated hundred dollar price difference between the two cards puts the Savage2000 into the slightly less expensive high-end mainstream market while the $300+ GeForce is going after the hardcore gaming enthusiast market.
Ready for Prime Time?
As much as we want to believe in this chip, we definitely need to see how the drivers perform before we start patting S3 on the back. Anyone who has ever owned a Savage based card will be able to tell you about the driver issues. Granted, S3's driver reputation gained a boost when it released their "Performance ICD," but S3 still has to prove that it can build decent drivers for the Savage2000.
We're also a little concerned with the Savage2000's support of 128-bit SDRAM/SGRAM, and 64-bit DDR RAM. The internal memory bandwith might not be sufficient to support the 700Mtexels/s fillrate.
We managed to get a small interview with S3's PR Manager Paul Crossley and Grand 3D Puba (3D Architect) Raja "No, I won't work for you, Dan Wood" Koduri. Read on to find out how S3 feels about the Savage2000, and some tidbits about the ominous ProjectX.