Xabre Rattling - SiS's New Graphics Chip


It's once again shaping up to be a hot summer, and I don't mean the weather. ATi has just released its next-gen cards and the gaming community is anxiously waiting to see whether it will be able to knock NVIDIA off the performance throne. Of course, NVIDIA isn't just idly sitting by and watching, and we can expect an equally impressive counter from the graphics heavyweight. As fascinating and exciting as this battle for frame-rate glory is, it is but a small part of the graphics card industry, albeit the part that drives innovation through intense competition. Yet although this is certainly the market segment with the highest margins, the high-end products are not the real source of revenue for the companies - they are simply too expensive to appeal to a large enough audience. The real money is in the mainstream market.

This is also the price segment in which the competition and the fight for every sale are the most intense, not to say bloody. What counts here isn't the highest possible framerate, but the most appealing price/performance ratio. ATi's champion for this segment was the Radeon 7500 and not the Radeon 9000, while NVIDIA is sending the GeForce4 MX into the fray. With SiS, it seems there is now a third serious contender entering the brawl. If you'll remember, a few companies were already showing their early samples of cards based on SiS's new Xabre chip at this year's CeBit in Hanover.

SiS has been producing graphics chips for quite a while, although most of their previous products have seen use mainly in notebooks. With its new SiS330, a.k.a. "Xabre", SiS is now also offering a 3D chip designed for the performance desktop, which promises to cause quite a few headaches at it's two rivals' headquarters due to its low price.