Matrox Acquired by Co-Founder

by Anton Shilov on September 11, 2019 10:30 AM EST

Matrox on Monday announced that Lorne Trottier, a co-founder of Matrox, has acquired 100% ownership of the Matrox group of companies, which includes three divisions: Matrox Imaging, Matrox Graphics, and Matrox Video.

Founded in 1976 by Lorne Trottier and Branko Matić, Matrox may not be a widely-known name among the PC crowd these days as it has been years since the company released its own GPU and essentially quit the market of consumer graphics cards. Back in the day, Matrox’s Parhelia and Millennium G400/G450/G550 graphics cards provided superior 2D image quality (something that was very important back in the CRT era), but failed to offer competitive performance in 3D games. This failure led the company to leave the market of consumer graphics cards and focus on niche markets instead. Back in 2014 Matrox officially ceased to design its own graphics processor IP and has been using AMD’s Radeon GPUs coupled with its renowned software since then.

In fact, when it comes to multi-display graphics cards and other graphics solutions for various purposes as well as for specialized niche solutions for video and imaging applications, Matrox has rather unique offerings. Serving aerospace, broadcast, financial, cinematography, digital signage, and other industries, Matrox almost certainly earns good profit margins.

It is hard to say how change of the ownership will affect product development and roadmap of Matrox, but usually such changes focuse the companies on their key products, which enables growth.

Since Matrox has always been a privately held company, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Here is what Lorne Trottier had to say:

“This next phase represents a renewed commitment to our valued customers, suppliers, and business partners, as well as to our 700 dedicated employees worldwide. At Matrox, our culture is defined by our passion for technological innovation and product development. We maintain the highest degree of corporate responsibility vis-a-vis production quality and industry standards. I am extremely proud of our accomplishments over our 40-plus-year history and would like to thank my co-founder for his contributions.”

He added:

“I look forward to championing a corporate culture defined by forward-thinking business practices, transparency, and teamwork. I am excited to lead this great organization as we implement growth initiatives. Matrox is a great Canadian success story. We owe this success and our bright prospects to the talented and dedicated people at all levels of this organization.” 

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Source: Matrox

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  • mode_13h - Saturday, September 14, 2019 - link

    At my first job, we had their Millennium and Millennium II cards. Very, very nice for driving 21" CRTs at 1600 x 1200. I could swear they also accelerated flat or gouraud-shaded polygons, but was never 100% sure.

    Then, I remember my disappointment upon reading reviews of the Matrox Mistake... er Mystique. Like many of their time, they fumbled the 3D transition and got left behind.

    It seemed like ATI vs. Matrox was a legendary Canadian rivalry.
  • Oxford Guy - Sunday, September 15, 2019 - link

    "but failed to offer competitive performance in 3D games"

    This is overstated. The Parhelia was competitive but only for a brief moment. (Matrox also made the bad decision, in my opinion, of releasing the card before the 0.13-micron node was ready to use, so it had to cut DX9 support. Had it developed the card to be DX9, it probably would have done better, especially since the delay would have forced Matrox to make the card more competitive with the ATI card that dropped like a bomb on it — and would have given it time to do so.)

    Parhelia also took a different route for rendering than the standard which cost them due to lack of optimization for it by developers:

    "Where Matrox does differ from the competition is in the Parhelia's ability to process four textures per pipeline per clock as opposed to two in all competing products."

    The biggest flaw it had, though, was that it didn't have enough cullling. Also, it wasn't fully DX9 compliant. The card's cooling system was, typical of the time, inadequate.

    "These pixel shaders are no more programmable than what's in the GeForce4 meaning that they are still effectively register combiners and not fully programmable. At the same time they work on integer data and not 32-bit floating point values which is required for DX9 compliance. The reason the Parhelia cannot claim these two key features is because of, once again, a lack of die-space. As the chip is built on a 0.15-micron process with 80 million transistors, Matrox had to make a number of tradeoffs in order to pack excellent performance under current and future DX8 applications; one of those tradeoffs happens to be pixel shader programmability. Just as 3DLabs mentioned to us during our P10 briefing, in order to make the 3D pipeline entirely floating-point you need to be on at least a 0.13-micron process which won't be mature enough (at TSMC at least) until this fall ."

    What it did have was 10-bit color, high-quality output — 5th order filters, depth-adaptive tessellation, hardware displacement mapping, intelligent AA, hardware-accelerated text AA, and the ability to do multi-monitor gaming from a single card.

    "This concept is very similar to mip-mapping when it comes to textures but simply applied to displacement maps instead. Matrox has licensed this technology to Microsoft for use in DX9 and you will definitely see other vendors implement similar functions into future GPUs.

    A major benefit of HDM is that using technologies such as Depth-Adaptive Tessellation you can produce a very detailed terrain using a low polygon count base mesh and a very small displacement map (multiple KBs in size). This saves traffic across the memory and AGP buses while allowing for extremely detailed scenes to be produced."

    Better culling probably would have been more helpful than the special tech it came with. The worst strategy for a small player is to try to get developers to adopt new features. They always cater to the dominant player(s) instead.
  • mode_13h - Sunday, September 15, 2019 - link

    Informative. Thanks.

    > The worst strategy for a small player is to try to get developers to adopt new features.

    Ahem, NV1.
  • jaydee - Monday, September 16, 2019 - link

    I remember when the G550 came out and had the big promo that it would render your face, so you could conference call someone and see the animation of the person on the other end, talking (over a regular telephone modem connection).
  • mode_13h - Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - link

    I've dug up vintage reviews on here, myself, but it's still amazing every time I see one.

    Thanks for sharing.
  • Scipio Africanus - Friday, September 20, 2019 - link

    Wow that brings back some memories. Tseng Labs, Cirrus Logic, Matrox, S3, Trident.. so many others. And of course, let's not forget the only survivor ATI aka AMD. My first PC after my C64 was a 286/16 with an ATI Mach32. So strange that they exist to this day! AMD should bring back the ATI name for all their GPU's :)

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