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    SLCentralArticlesPreviews Aug 21st, 2019 - 10:29 AM EST
    Matrox G550 Preview
    Author: Drew Lanclos
    Date Posted: June 21st, 2001


    Matrox has been in the business of graphics cards since yon early days of S3, Rendition, Western Graphics, and Orchid. While Matrox made an attempt two years ago at capturing some of the performance market, their offering was hard-pressed to compete against the cunning marketing and raw power of the NVIDIA machine. At the time, they had a product with superior features, but people often shunned the G400 and the G400 Max because, while they were powerful enough at the time, NVIDIA's cards had power to spare, and would be useable longer.

    Matrox at first threw down the gloves, saying that its G800 was going to take the market back and make them king of graphics, but the product kept slipping and Matrox continually kept mum about it, and eventually the G800 never saw the light of day. In its stead, Matrox released the G450, which increased the RAMDAC speed so that the dual-display feature was stronger, able to display higher resolutions at higher refresh rates. It seemed that Matrox had all but forgotten about the enthusiast and home market at this point.

    To be fair, of course, Matrox's products have long been intended for the business and OEM market. Years ago, ATI and Matrox went down to the schoolyard and had it out over whose product was best: Matrox's Mystique 3D accelerator, or ATI's new Rage chipset. In the end, neither of them really won. Matrox's card was better on paper (And some would say in practice, thanks to ATI's older Mach drivers), but ATI had its fingers deep into the OEM market, with graphics chipsets that were easily integrated into motherboards, and more importantly, cheap.

    Matrox has long had a following in the video enthusiast market, with its Marvel and Rainbow Runner series add-on cards being top-name in the video editing market. ATI would continually try to eat away at the sales with its All-in-Wonder series, but when it came down to it, Matrox's supplies, while expensive, were considered to be state of the art. Matrox also pioneered the concept of multi-monitor displays on a single card, starting in on the consumer market with the G400 line. Matrox touted it as a great feature for games, but the requirements (Two monitors) were rather steep for most single-computer gamers, and few publishers integrated the feature into their titles.

    Now Matrox returns to the market, and in tradition, brings something new with it. Enter the dizzying world of the Matrox G550.

    The Specs

    General characteristics and key features

    • 0.18-micron technology
    • 256-bit DualBus graphics chip
    • 64-bit Double Data Rate (DDR) external bus to frame buffer memory
      • Up to 32MB frame buffer configurations supported
    • Full AGP 4X device with multi-threaded bus mastering
      • Support for AGP 1X, 2X and 4X
    • Dual integrated RAMDACs
    • Dual integrated TMDS transmitters enabling multi-display output to two digital flat panels
    • Integrated TV encoder
    • Matrox DualHead® display technology
      • Multiple independent displays with a single AGP card:
      • Analog flat panel (RGB monitor)/analog flat panel (RGB monitor)
      • Analog flat panel (RGB monitor)/TV
      • Analog flat panel (RGB monitor)/digital flat panel
      • Digital flat panel /digital flat panel
      • Digital flat panel /TV
    • HeadCasting Engine for Visual Online Communication
      • Extended Vertex Shader with 256 constant registers
      • DirectX 8.0 Matrix Palette Skinning with up to 32 matrices
      • Supported for HeadCasting applications only
    • Dual pixel pipelines with dual texturing units per pixel pipeline
    • High quality DVD/video playback with DVDMax
      • Independent full-screen playback on secondary display
    • Vibrant Color Quality (VCQ) rendering
      • 32-bit internal precision, specially enhanced for multi texturing using 32-bit source textures
    • UltraSharp RAMDAC technology
    • High-speed integrated primary RAMDAC (up to 360 MHz)
      • Flicker-free display up to 2048 x 1536 @32bpp on the primary display
    • DirectX Environment-Mapped Bump Mapping
    • Bilinear, trilinear and anisotropic filtering
    • 32-bit Z-buffer including 8-bit stencil buffer

    2D drawing engine

    • Benchmark-winning 2D performance
      • World's fastest Windows® acceleration
    • UltraSharp RAMDAC technology for highest quality analog output and ultra-sharp text quality
    • Optimized for 32bpp, 24bpp, 16bpp, 15bpp and 8bpp
    • Full acceleration of GDI and DirectDraw functions including new Windows 2000 GDI features
    • Linear frame buffer with support for packed pixels
    • Programmable, transparent Bit-Block Transfer (BLTter)
    • Hardware cursor with alpha assist
    • Linear packed pixel frame buffer
    • 32-bit ultra-fast VGA core
    • Transparency and color keying

    Display engine

    • Dual integrated CRTC controllers
      • Drive two independent displays from one graphics chip
    • Dual integrated RAMDACs
      • 360 MHz primary and 230 MHz secondary
    • Integrated dual TMDS transmitter enabling multi-display output to two digital flat panels
    • Integrated TV encoder
      • Support for NTSC, PAL, SECAM
      • Supported a up to 1600 x 1200 desktop resolutions
    • Matrox DualHead display technology
      • Multiple independent displays with a single AGP card:
      • Analog flat panel (RGB monitor)/analog flat panel (RGB monitor)
      • Analog flat panel (RGB monitor)/TV
      • Analog flat panel (RGB monitor)/digital flat panel
      • Digital flat panel /digital flat panel
      • Digital flat panel /TV
    • Supports up to 2048 x 1536 @32bpp on primary RGB monitor or analog flat panel
    • Supports up to 1600 x 1200 @32bpp on secondary RGB monitor, analog flat panel or TV
    • Supports up to 1280 x 1024 @32bpp on primary and secondary digital flat panel

    3D engine

    • HeadCasting Engine for Visual Online Communication
      • Real-time acceleration of animated photo-realistic faces with lip synchronization
      • Extended Vertex Shader with 256 constant registers
      • Stores all constant data for up to 32 Matrix skinning of a 3D mesh
      • DirectX 8.0 Matrix Palette Skinning with up to 32 matrices
      • Up to 4 independent matrices /vertex
      • Up to 12 independent matrices /triangle
      • Up to 32 independent matrices /draw call
      • Supported for HeadCasting applications only
    • Dual pixel pipelines with dual texturing units per pixel pipeline
    • Floating point 3D setup engine with dynamically re-allocatable resources:
      • Pipelined floating point and culling engines
      • Optimized support for Direct3D and OpenGL® triangles, strips, fans and vectors
      • Flexible vertex format natively supported
      • Vertex buffers natively supported
    • DirectX Environment -Mapped Bump Mapping (EMBM)
    • Vibrant Color Quality (VCQ) rendering
      • 32-bit precision internal rendering for single and multi-texturing
      • 32-bit source textures
      • 32-bit output
      • Full sub-pixel and sub-texel correction
      • 8-bit precision for filter coefficients
      • Highly saturated & separated analog color output
    • Texturing support:
      • Dual texturing units per pixel pipeline
      • Perspective-correct texture mapping
      • Texture sizes up to 2048 x 2048
      • Support for all texture formats
      • Texturing from local and AGP memory
      • Opaque texture surfaces
      • Alpha in texture palettes
      • 11 level mip-mapping support
      • Texture transparency
      • Mip-mapped non-power-of-2 texture support
      • Full subpicture-blended DVD as texture source
    • Filtering support:
      • Bilinear filtering
      • 8-sample-per-pixel trilinear filtering
      • Anisotropic filtering
    • Alpha blending:
      • DirectX and OpenGL blend modes
      • Supports all permutations of passes including lightmaps, environment maps, reflection maps, etc.
    • Z-buffer support:
      • 16-bit
      • 24-bit plus 8-bit stencil buffer
      • 32-bit
    • Full sub-pixel precision
    • Specular highlighting (any color)
    • Vertex and table fogging
    • True color RGB, flat and Gouraud shading
    • Environment Mapping
    • Guard band clipping
    • Single, double or triple buffering
    • 3D image effects combined with no exclusion conditions
    • Sort independent anti-aliasing
    • Hardware dithering including dithering of LUT textures

    Video and multimedia features

    • Planar YUV support
    • Multiple YUV pixel formats
    • Independent front-and back-end scalars
      • Supports overlay modes a high resolution
    • Independent X and Y scaling with high-quality 12-tap scaling filter
      • 4-tap horizontal
      • 3-tap vertical
    • High-quality DVD, MPEG-2 and video playback with DVDMax
      • Full-screen output to secondary display independent of primary display
      • Non-scaled full-screen output of native forma DVD and video to TV
      • Full-hardware subpicture support and blending for high-quality DVD playback
      • Aspect ratio conversion supported for proper display of 4:3 and 16:9 content
      • AGP 4X bus mastering of video data
      • Independent hardware color controls for video overlay
    • Hardware color space conversion
    • Support for unlimited number of simultaneous video windows and sprites
    • Parallelized video input and output port
    • Support for HDTV
      • HD playback support of up to 1080i (1920 x 1080)
      • HD0 input support of up to 720p (1280 x 720)
    • User-controllable flicker filter, up to 6 lines
    • Underscan and overscan capabilities
    • Support for picture-in-picture and multiple video windows
    • Full WDM support for video capture
    • Microsoft® Video Mixing Renderer (VMR) support
    • Unique Motion Video Rendering (MVR) architecture
      • Native support for non-power-of-2 textures
      • Facilitates preservation of 16:9 aspect ratio when texture mapping video s reams
      • Mip-map non-power-of-2 texture
      • Multiple YUV source texture formats for video stream texture mapping
      • Video editing architecture enables real-time A/B roll capability


    • Matrox Unified Drivers
    • Operating systems
      • Windows® XP Professional and Home
      • Windows 2000
      • Windows 98,Windows 95 and Windows Me
      • Windows NT® 4.0
      • Linux
    • Platforms
      • X86, X86-64 and IA-64 ™compatible
      • AMD ®3Dnow!™, MMX ™,and Intel SSE ™&SSE2 ™optimized
      • AGP 4X, 2X, 1X compliant
    • Compliance
      • DirectX 8.0 and lower
      • WinLogo 2.0 & WinLogo 1.1 compliant
      • Microsoft DirectShow and Broadcast PC
      • OpenGL
      • WDM and VMR

    >> The Specifications Spin

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    Article Navigation
    1. Introduction/The Specs
    2. The Specifications Spin
    3. Headcasting
    4. A Gospel According To Gamers
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