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Matrox Announces New 'Parhelia-512' GPU

by Rainier on May 14, 2002 @ 3:30 p.m. PDT

Matrox Graphics Inc. today unveiled the revolutionary Matrox Parhelia-512 high-fidelity GPU delivering a new level of visual quality, superior performance and a wide range of innovative new technologies. World's first 512-bit GPU delivers unparalleled image quality, superior performance and wide range of innovative features for the ultimate visual experience

Parhelia-512 is an 80 million transistor, 0.15µ, 2D, 3D and DVD/video GPU with a true 256-bit DDR memory interface providing over 20 gigabytes per second (GB/s) of raw memory bandwidth. This AGP device supports unified frame buffers up to 256MB in size and integrates two RAMDACs, a TV encoder and support for dual TMDS transmitters. Designed to surpass the expectations of the most demanding professional users and PC enthusiasts, Parhelia-512 has three major goals:

  • to dramatically increase the quality of all aspects of visualisation
  • to sustain extremely high performance for the most complex and demanding graphics rendering
  • to deliver a number of innovative and substantive features.

"High fidelity refers to a superb reproduction, which is completely true to the original," said Matrox president, Lorne Trottier. "The engineering vision fulfilled by Matrox Parhelia-512 was to achieve the highest-fidelity graphics with the truest representation of colour, 3D, text and images created by a single source of incomparable quality, performance and features."

Unparalleled Visual Quality

To achieve the highest-fidelity graphics, Parhelia-512 has been designed with tremendous attention to detail paid to every aspect of the graphics pipeline. Parhelia-512 continues Matrox's unwavering focus on raising the bar in cutting-edge visual quality by bringing significant new quality-based innovations to market. This leading image quality and support for the latest display technologies are key attributes of the product.

Some specific quality-related innovations include:

  • 10-bit GigaColor Technology - Parhelia-512 delivers the PC industry's first true 10-bit per colour channel support for the simultaneous display of over one billion colors. Full 10-bit precision per colour channel is maintained throughout the pixel processing pipeline, inside the frame buffers, as well as in the RAMDACs and TV encoder for additional precision in 2D, 3D, DVD and video. 10-bit GigaColor is a forward- looking technology, which provides an exceptionally vibrant Microsoft® Windows® desktop, the richest graphics, as well as the sharpest 3D images and in-game graphics.
  • UltraSharp Display Output Technology - The display output subsystem of Parhelia-512 is based on a sophisticated new design that delivers truly high fidelity RGB, DVI and TV output. Parhelia-512's dual 400Mhz RAMDACs are fully gamma correctable to 10-bit per channel accuracy. Both RAMDACs and the integrated TV encoder, output signals with 10-bit per channel signal quality. This technology combined with the most highly developed electronics and filters, delivers the highest-quality analogue, digital and TV outputs-Matrox's best ever.
  • 64 Super Sample Texture Filtering - Parhelia-512 integrates the world's most advanced texture filtering units allowing for the dynamic allocation of up to 64 texture samples per clock-double the number available on competing GPUs. These samples can be flexibly allocated to provide higher quality texture filtering with minimal performance impact. For example, the 64 samples could be arranged to deliver dual textured pixels with trilinear filtering, instead of bilinear filtering, at no performance penalty; or dual textured pixels with 16-sample anisotropic filtering at comparable performance to trilinear filtering on competing GPUs.
  • Glyph Antialiasing - Parhelia-512 is the first graphics technology to provide hardware accelerated antialiased text and font rendering with full gamma correction-a feature currently available in Microsoft operating systems but only accelerated in software. Furthermore, Glyph Antialiasing takes the operating system's text quality initiative one step further by offering programmable gamma correction for the antialiasing of text. Glyph Antialiasing makes onscreen text more readable and provides the ultimate desktop viewing experience without compromising performance.
  • 16x Fragment Antialiasing (FAA-16x) - This revolutionary approach to antialiasing delivers the highest quality antialiased rendering with minimal performance impact. For applications compatible with FAA-16x, Parhelia-512 intelligently antialiases only pixels on triangle edges and applies a full 16 times super-sampling to those pixels while leaving interior pixels sharp and unblurred. As edge pixels typically make up only a small fraction of the pixels in the scene, Parhelia-512 is able to offer this superior quality with a very small performance penalty.

Superior Performance

With massive memory bandwidth and a colossal array of 3D processing elements, Parhelia-512 delivers the fastest 2D, Microsoft DirectX® 8, OpenGL 1.3 and DVD performance. It sustains very high levels of performance even during the rendering of complex 3D scenes with high polygon counts, FAA-16x antialiasing, 8-sample anisotropic filtering, 10-bit GigaColor Technology and deep vertex and pixel shaders. Parhelia-512 pushes the limits of design and architecture by integrating the following high fidelity performance technologies:

  • 512-bit GPU - Parhelia-512 is the first 512-bit GPU and the first device with a true 256-bit wide DDR local memory interface, which can provide over 20 GB/s of raw memory bandwidth. Forming the backbone of the rendering and display engine, the 512-bit architecture and massive memory bandwidth enable Parhelia-512 to sustain the highest performance for the most complex 3D and 2D applications, even during high resolution, multi-display computing.
  • Quad DirectX 9 Vertex Shader Array - Parhelia-512 integrates four Microsoft DirectX 9 compatible vertex shader units into a single vertex processing array. Powered by a sophisticated control unit, with deep instruction and register caches, Parhelia-512 is able to sustain very high performance levels even when executing complex vertex shader programs on high-resolution 3D models. In addition, Parhelia-512 is optimised for OpenGL standard lighting models and handles these at accelerated rates.
  • Quad Texturing - Parhelia-512 is the first GPU to enable single-pass quad texturing with four pixel-per-clock throughput. With the latest generation of 3D games, and a plethora of future games expected to push the limits of texturing beyond dual texturing, Parhelia-512 is the only GPU that provides a rendering platform that sustains performance for cutting-edge graphics applications.
  • 36-Stage Shader Array - With four programmable texture- and five programmable pixel-shader stages on each of its four pixel pipelines, Parhelia-512's 36-Stage Shader Array boasts the largest and most powerful pixel rendering pipeline to date. The massive shading power of the engine allows Parhelia-512 to render the most demanding next-generation content at high performance levels.

Distinct Innovative Features

With a steadfast tradition of bringing trend-setting new features to market, Matrox leads the way once again with Parhelia-512, which offers the following substantive and innovative features:

  • Hardware Displacement Mapping (HDM) - Hardware Displacement Mapping is a powerful new method of representing and rendering complex 3D geometry using a simple data representation. Matrox is the first to develop a hardware implementation of displacement mapping and has contributed elements of this technology for inclusion as a standard feature in Microsoft's DirectX 9 API. Hardware Displacement mapping works by encoding high-resolution geometric detail into 'displacement maps', which represent height displacements from a low-resolution object mesh and stores this data in simple texture maps. Using dynamic, depth-adaptive vertex tessellation and mipmapped vertex texture sampling, Parhelia-512 recombines the base mesh with the displacement map in real time to enable stunningly realistic 3D rendered scenes.
  • Surround Gaming - The IMAX® experience of 3D gaming, Parhelia-512 renders the output of supported 3D games across three displays providing three times the regular field of view (FOV), fully engaging the player's peripheral vision. With out-of-the-box support for many popular games including Id Software™'s Quake III Arena™, Activision®'s Soldier of Fortune II, Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2002 and LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC's Jedi Knight® II. Surround Gaming provides gamers with a truly immersive environment that has to be experienced to be believed.
  • DualHead®-HighFidelity (HF) - Since its introduction by Matrox four years ago, DualHead display has become an industry standard technology. Parhelia-512 extends Matrox's leadership in DualHead technology with DualHead-HF, the first fully symmetric, nocompromise multi-display support on a single graphics chip. With DualHead-HF, Parhelia-512 is capable of independently displaying dual 2048 x 1536 @ 32bpp analogue outputs or dual 1920 x 1200 @ 32bpp digital outputs with independently gamma-correctable hardware overlays.
  • TripleHead Desktop - For the maximum onscreen real estate, Parhelia-512 uses a specialised third RAMDAC to support an ultrawide rectangular Windows desktop stretched across three displays to a maximum resolution of 3840 x 1024 @ 32bpp. PC-Theater DVD Playback - Parhelia-512 provides DVD playback with home-theatre quality on the PC. Similar to DVD set-top boxes, Parhelia-512 incorporates 10-bit precision for DVD decoding, advanced video filtering and scaling, as well as Matrox-pioneered DVDMax with independent proc-amp controls for overlays and TV output.

"Matrox's Hardware Displacement Mapping is a unique and innovative new technology that delivers increased realism for 3D games," said Kenny Mitchell, director 3D Graphics Software Engineering, Westwood Studios®. "The fact that it only took me a few hours to get up and running with the technology to attain excellent results was really encouraging and I look forward to integrating the technology more widely in future Westwood titles."

Parhelia-512 offers a host of other features including the Matrox PowerDesk-HighFidelity (HF) utility suite, a power user's dream for hardware configuration and desktop management in multi-display environments. Incorporating the most advanced features and initiatives in the industry, Matrox Parhelia-512 delivers a breakthrough rendering platform that combines maximum quality, performance and features to deliver the highest-fidelity graphics-with no compromises.

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