Hercules Prophet 4500 in the test: The Kyro2 compared to the GeForce
The drivers supplied with the card have version number 7.89 and are for Windows 2000, Windows 9x/Me and Windows NT4 suitable. They are kept very clear and offer only the most necessary functions, an overclocking function is currently still in vain and the current drivers of version 7.103 still lack this function. Overall, Hercules did not do any headstands and simply adjusted the reference drivers from PowerVR with their own logos. But even the competition has not taken over at this point for a long time, wherever you look, slightly adapted reference drivers are used.
Like its predecessor, the Kyro2 chip was developed by PowerVR and, as already mentioned, differs only slightly from it. While the first Kyro was still manufactured in the old 0.25 µm, the modern 0.18 µm production is now used in the Kyro2, through which the conductor tracks could slide closer together and the power consumption and thus the heat development could be reduced Hardware design slightly optimized so that the clock frequency of the chip could be increased from 115MHz in the Kyro to 175MHz in the Kyro2 without any further problems.
As can be seen from the table, the Kyro2 also lacks the supporting Transforming & Ligtning unit, which is supposed to relieve the processor during light calculations. On fast computers, this shortcoming should not be of any consequence, since there are usually enough resources left for such computing work, but on slow computers this shortcoming could be negativenoticeable.
Features (Part 1)
The pioneer in terms of graphic features was and is so far nVidia. With the introduction of the GeForce 256, they were the first company to support Transforming & Lightning in their graphics hardware. The flagship feature of the GeForce2 GTS was per pixel shading and a second generation T&L unit. The current flagship chip from nVidia, the GeForce3, includes the infiniteFX engine, with which it is possible for the developers, to put it simply, to program their own special effects into the graphics card. With each of these graphics chips, numerous game titles were announced that run oh so well with a graphics card with such a chip. With the GeForce 256, titles such as Return to Castle Wolfenstein or Warcraft 3 were used to promote the chip. With the GeForce2 GTS it was Halo and with the GeForce3 it was the underwater adventure Aquanox and the first person shooter Doom3. As nice as the titles may sound, none of these players is even on the market so far, the first screenshots look tempting, but what use are they if you have the graphics card but not the game. Graphic features or not, what is important is what is currently supported by the games and what also brings noticeable advantages for the user. The PowerVR Kyro2 may not shine with features like per pixel shading, but it offers environmental bump mapping, eight-fold multitexturing in one rendering pass or internal true color rendering.
Environmental bump mapping is not really new, but so far it is only supported by the Matrox G400/G450, the ATi Radeon and nVidia's GeForce3. The latter, however, plays in a completely different price range. nVidia's mainstream chips like the GeForce2MX do not have this feature. Since this feature is unfortunately not yet used by all too many gamesis supported, although it has already been integrated in DirectX 6, I would like to leave it at this point with the simple mention.
Even with eight-fold multitexturing in a rendering pass, I would like to leave it at a short comparison, since most games do not superimpose more than 3 textures, the positive exception here, however, is Serious Sam with an average of 5 textures per triangle. The current Direct3D 8.0 graphics API theoretically supports a maximum of exactly eight textures on a triangle, which the Kyro could of course use to the limit. He is able to place these 8 textures on a triangle within 8 clock cycles without having to access the graphics memory. This is achieved by the way the chip renders an image, but we will go into this in more detail in the technology section. The elementary advantage of eight-fold multitexturing in one rendering pass is that the chip does not have to access the graphics memory, which unnecessarily strains the already low bandwidth of the memory. With eight texture layers, the competition has to resort to the graphics memory much more often.
On the next page: Features (Part 2)