S3 SuperSavage MX/IX Mobile 3D Acceleratorby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 14, 2001 3:50 AM EST
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The Savage4 is good for something
We found relatively little use for the Savage4 as a "high-performance" add-in graphics card during its time, however since then the chip has been put to a number of more useful tasks. For one, the Savage4 core was used in VIA's line of value chipsets with integrated video. More recently, the Savage4 core is being used in the SuperSavage mobile graphics core that features a heavily modified version of the 2-year-old desktop chip.
Unlike the old Savage MX/IX chips, the SuperSavage is built on a 0.18-micron fabrication process compared to the 0.22-micron process that was used at UMC, the fab that makes chips for S3. According to S3, the 0.18-micron process the SuperSavage is built on is more advanced than the 0.18-micron process the Savage2000 featured basically because the process has had quite a lot of time to mature and to put it plainly, they have worked most of the kinks out by now.
The die shrink allowed S3 to do a little more with the Savage MX/IX's pixel pipeline, doubling the number of texture units. So while the Savage MX/IX was only capable of rendering one pixel with one texture applied to it every clock, the SuperSavage is now capable of rendering that one pixel but now with two textures applied to it every clock. It seems almost silly to get excited about this feature since the GeForce2 Go and all desktop parts have had this for quite some time now, however S3's priorities in the mobile arena are slightly different from what we've seen from NVIDIA.
The single pixel pipeline is very unusual when compared to the four pixel pipelines present on the desktop GeForce2 GTS, but as you are about to see S3 is being very cautious about how they use their die space with their mobile parts.
The second thing the move to a 0.18-micron core was able to get S3 was a higher operating frequency, meaning that instead of the 100 - 110MHz clock speed of the Savage MX/IX, the SuperSavage will run at 143MHz.
The combination of the higher clock speed and the ability to apply two textures in a single pass should give the SuperSavage, according to S3, a 50 - 75% boost in 3D performance than the old Savage MX/IX. If we say that the Savage MX/IX provided performance of around 30 fps at 800 x 600, the SuperSavage can be expected to provide 40 - 50 fps in similar situations.
Savage2000: good for something as well
The Savage2000 was a relative flop in the retail market, even to the point where there was a small-scale exchange program conducted where Savage2000s were replaced with TNT2 based Diamond Viper V770s.
The SuperSavage borrows one and only one feature from the Savage2000, that being its 128-bit 2D core. Since the rest of the core is based off of the Savage4 design, there are no claims of T&L support, which is something that NVIDIA has been able to push with the GeForce2 Go. Even ATI's Radeon Mobility won't have T&L support, so it will be very interesting to see if NVIDIA's claims that T&L helps battery life actually have some tangible truth behind them.