San Francisco (CA) – S3 is a little late to the party with its first DirectX10 graphics card, but there may a be a good reason for some users to take a look at the low-cost Chrome 400.
S3 originally had announced a DirectX10 capable card at Computex Taipei 2005, with the intention to be the first company to offer that feature to consumers. In the end, Nvidia was first out of the gate with its DirectX10-supporting GeForce 8800 series (G80 core). S3 ended up ditching its XD2/D2, which had been scheduled for a Q3 2006 launch.
It took the company some time to catch up: After dropping the 90 nm XD2/D2 parts, S3 focused on the transition to a 65 nm manufacturing process and is now ready to release its Chrome 400, code-named XD3/D3.
Besides the fact that S3 now has a DirectX 10 card (which should be selling for as low as $60) as well, there is interesting feature that trumps Nvidia’s current flagship card. The Chrome 400 supports a native HDMI interface in the same manner as ATI’s HD2000 and HD3000 series (audio is delivered through a PCI Express interface) as well as Dual-Link DVI to HDMI operation. This feature could turn out to be a cheap way to run Full HD (1080p) video on a fancy 26” or 30” LCD – something you can’t do if you run a $400+ GeForce 8800GTX or 8800 Ultra card.
The fact that the Chrome 400 can be passively cooled may also make it an interesting alternative to graphics chipsets and an option for home entertainment PC (HTPC).