S3 Announces New GPU, Magical Linux Driver
In addition to VIA announcing a register documentation drop and driver partnership, S3 Graphics, which is a VIA Technologies joint venture company, has announced a new graphics card. Earlier this year S3 announced the Chrome 440 GTX, but today's press release christens the Chrome 500 series. The Chrome 500 series is compatible with OpenGL 3.0 (and Microsoft DirectX 10.1) and is quite an affordable graphics card.
The first discrete graphics card in the S3 Chrome 500 series is the Chrome 530 GT and is a PCI Express 2.0 part with OpenGL 2.1/3.0 support. This graphics card is set to retail for less than $50 USD.
Prominently advertised in the first paragraph of today's press release for this new graphics card is: "Today's users will now be able to enjoy the latest Blu-ray playback, streaming HD video, DirectX 10.1, and OpenGL 3.0 applications on Microsoft Windows and Linux platforms." This is quite interesting. They clearly mention Linux with several features that are not even supported by Linux. There doesn't even appear to be a Chrome 500 series Linux driver.
The latest Linux drivers we were able to find on the S3 Graphics web-site was dated from 2007 and the only Chrome 500 driver we found was for Windows Vista.
Seeing an OpenGL 3.0 Linux driver from S3 Graphics would be very surprising since NVIDIA had just released its beta OpenGL 3.0 Linux driver weeks ago and ATI/AMD still has yet to deliver such a driver. The open-source Mesa 3D stack also lacks support for OpenGL 3.0 / GLSL 1.30. Need we say that Microsoft DirectX 10.1 also isn't available on Linux.
There is no legitimate Blu-ray player either for Linux, so how do they plan to have this support on Linux when it doesn't exist? We also have yet to see any HD video acceleration on Linux via the S3 Graphics drivers. It was just last week that NVIDIA had brought PureVideo to Linux with their VDPAU API with MPEG2, H.264, VC-1, and WMV3 acceleration. AMD is working on X-Video Bitstream Acceleration for their own products.
There is not even a Chrome 400 series Linux driver yet on their web-site, but their 2007 Linux driver is for the Chrome S25 and S27. This driver also doesn't support acceleration for MPEG-1, MPEG-4, MPEG-HD, WMV, WMV-HD, AVI, or DivX, as stated by their read-me file. It also lacks multi-monitor support, multiple video streams, HDMI, HDTV, etc.
We're waiting back on what S3 Graphics has to say whether they'll be delivering a "magical" Linux driver with these features or they just has an overzealous PR department, but (unfortunately) expect the latter. Even delivering a S3 Linux driver with just one of those key features would be impressive from this dwindling company.
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