AOpen PA70, Specifications - This is a list of most of the features the S3D chipset supports, along with a brief explanation of what the features does (or what I think it does, if I don't know) and possibly a brief 2 worder describing how it is done or detailing some other misc. info about the feature.
Savage3D /GX3 Chipset Features
AGP 2x compatible -- DMA and Execute modes supported, texture compression supported as well, yielding AGP 4x bandwidth
128bit wide pipelines --- I believe 3D portion is dual 64bit paths, can't verify for sure though
8 MB SDRAM/SGRAM (SDRAM USED in AOpen PA70)
125 million pixel/sec fill-rate @125mhz, PA70 clocked at 110mhz
5M triangles/sec peak -- How fast the board can set up triangles for rendering, this is helpful in high performance 3D applications, such as 3DS Max.
16/24bit rendering -- 24bit Rendering eliminates some dithering and artifacts found in 16bit color, especially after multipass rendering.
Single Clock Trilinear Filtering -- Eliminates 'sparkling effect' in games. Trilinear filtering is performance at now extra cost.
Edge Anti-Aliasing -- Eliminates jagged edges by blending the colors from the edges of both adjecent polygons (always weighted)
Fogging and Atmospheric Effects -- 1 word, Unreal
Texture Compression -- converts textures to have only 4bits per pixel (instead of 16/32 depending on color) I believe that Texture compression stores a 4bit / pixel value which details how to generate the 'true' color.
Alpha Blending -- All blending modes supported for stuff like lights in Quake2, etc.
More... -- There are more features supported :)
MPEG II IDCT Motion compensation -- Interpolates between frames, I'm guessing...
TV-Out capabilities -- Not featured in the AOpen PA70 board
APIs / OSes Supported
OpenGL (ICD) for 95/98/NT
D3D for 95/98
OSes = Win95, 98, NT, and MSDOS compatibility (VESA 2.0)
An impressive set of features; The AOpen PA70 ( and other Savage3D boards) definitely don't have any really important features missing.
The AOpen PA70 installed flawlessly (Put it in the slot, connected my monitor, windows did the rest). The AOpen PA70 manual gives enough information on installing the PA70 for both Windows NT and 95/98. (Both Manual and PnP installation methods are shown) Of course, I wasted quite sometime figuring out why my Quake2 perfomance was so low, but that is a different story. You will need the Quake2 miniGL for Savage3D in order to get high frame rates in Quake2, don't expect the ICD to do much.
The AOpen PA70 board seems to use the reference board design, though I don't have a reference board to compare to. (it does use reference drivers, incase you are wondering) The board is one of the smallest I have ever seen, even rivaling the PCX2 boards (yeah, I know they are old) for smallest board award. Not only is the board small, since the Savage is manufacturered on 0.25micron; it doesnt get hot at all. I did not; however, manage to overclock to 125mhz.
The AOpen PA70 comes with a "Mega Game Pack" (That's quoted from AOpen) and the drivers. The games included aren't particulary interesting; however, there are a lot of them (albeit all demos) I personally don't base my decision on software bundles. Basing your decision on price is much more sensible.