Hercules Terminator BEAST Supercharged S3 Savage 3Dby Ga'ash Soffer on February 5, 1999 4:59 PM EST
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S3 Savage3D 0.25 Micron Chipset
AGP 2x support
Single Cycle Tri-linear filtering
2048x2048 texture size
S3TC texture compression
120Mhz Core Clock and RAM timing
S3TC Texture Compression
This Microsoft backed texture compression scheme (which is officially part of DX6) deserves a discussion. What exactly is S3TC, and why is it so good? S3TC is a texture compression methology which compresses every 16 or 24bit RGB set into 4bits. How exactly S3 does this I am not quite sure, but chances are that they implement some sort of algorithm which uses the 4bit data to modify the previous pixel in order to get the new pixel. (Note: this is just a guess.) Regardless of the actual algorithm used, S3TC decompression is very fast. Not only is decompression very fast, S3TC has a 4:1,6:1, or 8:1 compression ratio (uncompressed:compressed). These high compression ratios allow the Savage3D to pack larger more detailed textures into the same amount of memory space. Not only does S3TC allow more detailed textures without compromising bandwidth, S3TC can also be used to conserve bandwidth, and to effectively give AGP 2x over 2GB/sec bandwidth, faster than virtually any current architecture.
What about the image quality?
The Image quality with S3 texture compression is excellent. Not only are the differences between polygons mapped with compressed/uncompressed textures not noticeable, S3 texture compression allows developers to bump up the texture size without experiencing a big drop in bandwidth; which effectively makes polygons mapped with high resolution S3TC compressed textures look much better than low-resolution un-compressed equivalents.
So S3TC IS GOOD!
Yes, as a matter of fact, S3TC is very good. S3TC can be used to improve performance or improve image quality. It is virtually a win win situation, especially since the image quality is maintained well.
The Terminator BEAST features good TV-out capabilities, especially considering the board costs always under $100 (According to Hercules). I, personally, do not care much for TV-out; however, for those of you looking for TV-out capabilities at a low-cost, the Terminator BEAST deserves attention.