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  ST Micro's Kyro II & Hercules' 3D Prophet 4500 
  Jun 18, 2001, 09:00am EDT 


By: Dan Mepham

The Kyro II, and Herculesí 3D Prophet 4500 have impressed us immensely. In terms of stability and compatibility, we encountered no difficulties during our testing whatsoever. From a usability standpoint, thereís absolutely no difference between installing a 3D Prophet 4500, or a 3D Prophet MX. Both are easy to install, and both Herculesí Kyro II drivers and nVidiaís Detonator drivers work flawlessly.

From a performance standpoint, the Kyro II offered a pleasant surprise. Not only did this seemingly unimpressive card outperform a GeForce 2 GTS in a variety of benchmarks, but it also ran circles around even a GeForce 2 Pro, which retails for 40-50% more, in just as many. That said, donít assume the Kyro II is something itís not. Itís a budget card, and while it performs better than most other budget cards (and even better than high-end cards in some cases), it shouldnít be treated as a professional solution, as the SPECviewperf benchmarks more than aptly illustrated.

Itís clear that the Kyro II doesnít have much of a future beyond the next year or so. Once games begin to fully utilize the T&L engine and other features offered by newer cards like the GeForce 3, the Kyro II will find itself unable to compete. However the same is true of any other budget card, including the GeForce 2 MX and Radeon-based cards (Yes, they have T&L engines, but they lack the horsepower to keep up in newer games despite it). Early reports are that the successor to the Kyro II, the upcoming Kyro III, will feature a T&L unit, as well as a higher core clock, and a DDR memory interface. Imagine what even this Kyro II could do in terms of framerate with twice the clock speed and memory bandwidth! (We have, however, been told that implementing T&L on a Tile-based system is extremely difficult. To illustrate this, consider if something at the back of our house, which we did not render, cast a shadow which was visible to our camera at the front. Nevertheless, Imagination & ST Micro insist it can and will be done)

If you canít tell already, we really like the Kyro II and 3D Prophet 4500. The Kyro II is not the fastest out there. If you want the absolute best, go buy a GeForce 3, no one is telling you otherwise. What the Kyro II is, however, is incredibly simple and efficient, uses much less die space, dissipates much less power, and costs less, frame per frame, than current technology. Simple, cheap, efficient: that is, after all, the hallmark of great engineering.

Kudos to Imagination Technology and ST Microelectronics for breaking ranks and doing things a different way, and kudos to Hercules for jumping on the ball, and realizing a winner when it sees one. nVidia ought to be worried about this one.

Dan Mepham

1. Introduction
2. The 3rd Dimension, Bringing Worlds to Life
3. Immediate Mode Rendering, The Industry Standard
4. Tile-Based Rendering, A New Approach
5. Rendering Overview
6. ST Microelectronics' Kyro II
7. Hercules 3D Prophet 4500
8. Test Setup & Procedure
9. Performance - Fill-rates & 3DMark
10. Performance - Quake 3 Arena
11. Performance - Mercedes Benz Truck Racing
12. Performance - Unreal Tournament
13. Performance - SPECviewperf
14. CPU Scaling Performance
15. FSAA Performance - Quake 3 Arena
16. FSAA Performance - Unreal Tournament
17. Summary

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  Product Ratings 
Imagination/ST Microelectronics Kyro II
Performance: 7/10
Stability: 10/10
Features: 3/10
Price: 10/10
Overall Rating: 9/10
Hercules 3D Prophet 4500
Performance: 7/10
Stability: 10/10
Quality: 10/10
Features: 4/10
Documentation: 7/10
Price: 10/10
Overall Rating: 9/10

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