S3 SuperSavage MX/IX Mobile 3D Acceleratorby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 14, 2001 3:50 AM EST
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It was S3 that first brought true 3D acceleration to the notebook market with their Savage MX and IX parts close to two years. The Savage MX/IX series of 3D accelerators brought 30 fps 3D gaming to mobile users, which was more than the competition could offer at the time. It was a leaps and bounds above the solutions from NeoMagic and CirrusLogic that helped dominate the mobile graphics market, offering no more than 128-bit 2D acceleration and VGA output but it was still years behind what was possible on desktop platforms.
At the same time, developments in the desktop graphics market were making the notebook OEMs salivate at the thought of putting some of that power in their laptops. The introduction of NVIDIA's GeForce2 MX was met with quite a bit of interest, as this desktop part was just a hair away from being low power enough to be used in a laptop. If you remember the GeForce2 MX running at 175MHz was only consuming 4W of power and with the Savage MX/IX solutions consuming ~2W, NVIDIA wasn't too far off from having a killer mobile part on their hands.
While it took a little longer than expected, at the Fall Comdex 2000, NVIDIA introduced the GeForce2 Go, which was a lower clocked GeForce2 MX (143MHz vs. 175MHz) adapted to a mobile platform. The decreased clock speed combined with some light power saving features gave the GeForce2 Go the ability to live off of 2.8W of power. So the chip that ran at ~82% of its desktop counterpart's clock speed ran with 70% of its power, impressive, but still not impressive enough. Quite possibly the most impressive part of the GeForce2 Go's launch was that it is currently available in Toshiba laptops whereas it took S3 and ATI entirely too long to get their previous generation mobile 3D accelerators into shipping laptops.
ATI then struck back with the Radeon Mobility that has yet to be seen in shipping laptops but promises performance comparable to GeForce2 Go with apparently lower power consumption levels. The fact of the matter is that until ATI can show the Radeon Mobility in a shipping laptop, NVIDIA can enjoy their claim to fame; all 2.8W of it.
This brings us in a full circle back to what we started this introduction with, the Savage MX and IX chips. Outside of their joint venture with VIA, the Savage2000 blunder was pretty much the last we had heard from S3. Since then S3 has been de-emphasizing their role in the performance graphics market and has instead been focusing on their strengths: their SONICblue line of audio devices, their integrated video solutions and of course, their mobile products.
With NVIDIA and ATI threatening their market share in the mobile market, S3 is finally ready to respond with their SuperSavage line of mobile graphics accelerators; and surprisingly enough, they're not targeting the GeForce2 Go as their competition.