Graphics card history: How pixels learned to run

Graphics card history: How pixels learned to run

A new approach

It was time something moved. And exactly at that moment, a manufacturer came onto the market that no one would have expected at that moment, PowerVR.

At the time of the S3-Virge chips, PowerVR was already briefly on the PCX and PCX2 Graphics card market appeared, but had to struggle with various problems and withdrew into the more lucrative and safer game console business, in this case the SEGA Dreamcast.

Matrox m3D

In the meantime, there were a few products with the Dreamcast chip called Neon250, which like the older products also used tile-based rendering. However, you still had to struggle with a number of driver problems, even if the performance was quite impressive, especially under OpenGL.

Of action and reaction

Now, Sega, the main buyer of the PowerVR chips, has ceased because the Sega Dreamcast has now been discontinued. So you conjured up the next chip on oneAGP graphics card called KYRO and entered the nVidia dominated graphics market.

PowerVR came up with a completely different rendering concept. While all 3D accelerators so far calculated the scene triangle-based and depending on the engine, sometimes even from back to front, without looking whether a drawn object will later be visible at all (brute force rendering), PowerVR tried the concept of TileBasedRendering, which Back then with the 'PCX' on the Matrox m3D and the Videlogic Apocalypse 3D it found its way into the graphics card market, but found no acceptance for DirectX due to massive display problems and insufficient driver support. With the TBR, the entire image is divided into small tiles and calculated, at the same time it is possible to exclude all invisible objects from the rendering process.

With only 115MHz chip and memory clock was the original Kyro barely able to keep nVidia's MX cards in check, but very clearly. PowerVR felt compelled to bring a new edition of the Kyro, the Kyro2, to the market. The Kyro2 differed from the Kyro only in the 60MHz higher clock rate of 175MHz, which was made possible by a new production process.

The Kyro2 was a slap in the face from nVidia. So far, PowerVR has only been laughed at, but nVidia suddenly had to realize that it is possible with an intelligent redering process to leave a GeForce2GTS with a higher clock rate of 25MHz out in the rain.

PowerVR Kyro by Videologic
PowerVR KyroII from Videologic

You also saw at nVidia apparently caused a very unhappily worded internal document, which his stupidFound his way into the net. In this text, the KyroII was referred to as a 'TNT2-class' product, which PowerVR and the fan base saw as a real denunciation. The effect was that PowerVR gained a lot of sympathy points through intensive education through various websites and became a serious opponent for nVidia, especially since the Kyro2 only cost half a GeForce2 GTS.

On the next page: A new beginning?