Matrox Parhelia-512 - The Challenger


It has been a long time since we've been able to write about something really new from Matrox. In the past years, Matrox has been gradually retreating to the background in the 3D area, concentrating its efforts more on 2D display quality. For today's gaming requirements, there are hardly any Matrox cards that can really be used.

So it's all the more surprising that the Canadian company is now launching a new GPU called "Parhelia-512," which is supposed to be superior to the latest chips from NVIDIA and ATI. Matrox has packed a huge palette of 2D and 3D features into this 0.15-ì process/80-million transistor chip. But let's go through these things one at a time.

As is generally known, Matrox is not a traditional chip maker that produces chips for other manufacturers only. Parhelia cards will follow this tradition and will be produced under the Matrox brand only. Last year, this very product strategy had partly been dropped by ATI, to follow NVIDIA's example of selling only chips and designs instead of its own cards, at least for ATI's OEM customers. Matrox, however, is wary of taking this step and is instead concentrating on establishing a niche for itself along the lines of "quality sells."

Therefore, the Parhelia can only be understood as a high-end solution that targets gaming enthusiasts and 2D professionals. Value or low-end solutions, as provided by NVIDIA and ATI, have not been in the planning. The least expensive Parhelia card variant with 128 MB should be about $400, which is quite steep for a graphics card. Nevertheless, Parhelia has several things to offer that you won't find in anywhere else in such a concentrated form.

By the way, the name for the final boards has not been determined. Rumor has it that the cards will be called G1000, but this has not been officially confirmed by Matrox. The origin of the name "Parhelia" is quite interesting in itself - it's actually a term for a natural phenomenon in which light from the sun is dispersed by ice crystals in the atmosphere.

Parhelia image from Francis Hindle .

What you then see is a ring of light around the sun, along with two smaller suns to the left and right. Here, Matrox alludes to a trinity of attributes, namely quality, performance and features.

The new features in Parhelia can be roughly divided into two larger categories: 3D, plus 2D and hardware.