A Speedy Tiler: Kyro II on Hercules' 3D Prophet 4500

Starts With A Whimper; Hits The Market With A Bang

Who would have thought that NVIDIA would have any major competition besides ATI? Coming out with the Kyro II graphics chip was a master stroke for PowerVR Technologies and STMicroelectronics . Despite the fact the chip isn't in the same class as the more expensive, high-end GeForce3, this intelligent math wizard is more than a match for ATI's Radeon, the GeForce2 MX and the GeForce2 GTS. The company carrying the Hercules brand, Guillemot Corporation, has placed orders for vast quantities of chips from STMicro. Hercules itself is planning on bursting onto the market with 60,000 3D Prophet 4500 cards. The 64 MByte version will start out selling at a recommended retail price of $149. Guillemot has listed a host of online suppliers for this card at Hercules.com, but the card is not available until mid-May, officially.

Kyro II's predecessor, the Kyro I chip, paved the way for the Kyro II last year. Kyro I, however, never managed to gain a foothold in the market. The chip clock rate of 115 MHz wasn't enough for the Kyro I to really get the ball rolling. The Kyro II has lived up to expectations. Despite the fact that our lab still hasn't received a final production card, the first benchmarks using a late beta driver have yielded astounding results, due to the design overhaul and the switch from a 0.25 to a 0.18 micron production process. The clock rate of the Kyro II has increased to 175 MHz, putting it at a par with the GeForce2 MX. One of Kyro II's special technological features is its tile-based rendering (TBR) technology, which was developed by PowerVR. This tiling technique saves valuable bandwidth when rendering 3D scenes.

Uwe Scheffel