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  Computex 2003 Taiwan, XGI, eXtreme Graphics Innovation 
  Sep 25, 2003, 12:00pm EDT 

XGI, eXtreme Graphics Innovation

By: Sander Sassen

Today we were again fully booked with meetings and one of the companies we visited was XGI. On the 15th of September XGI not only introduced itself as a graphics processor manufacturer, but also their product brand name and a full graphics processor family, with graphics solutions for the desktop and mobile markets. Targeted at the enthusiast, high-end, mainstream and entry level market XGI has designed a number of chipsets and board configurations which should do well with these market segments. For the enthusiast market, XGI has introduced worlds 1st dual processor DX9 graphics solution, the Volari Duo V8 Ultra and the Volari Duo V5 Ultra. For the other market segments, XGI has introduced Volari V8 Ultra and Volari V8 for the high-end market; Volari V5 Ultra and Volari V5 for the mainstream market; and Volari V3 for entry level graphics applications.

XGI Volari Duo V8 Ultra videocard

Fig 1. The XGI Volari Duo V8 Ultra, featuring two Volari V8 processors running at a 350MHz clockspeed.

XGI Volari V8 Ultra processor

Fig 2. A closer look at the XGI Volari V8 processor, they are manufactured by none other than TSMC.

The graphics processors are especially designed for desktop applications and are compliant with the latest DirectX9, OpenGL1.4 specification. In the high-end and enthusiast segment, the Volari products not only support the most commonly used DDR DRAM, it also supports the latest and the fastest DDR2 DRAM. This allows for greater flexibility in product planning and reduces the risk of limited DRAM selection. Obviously we couldnt ignore their invitation to see their product demo and get more information about XGIs products. As you can see above the Volari Duo V8 Ultra uses two of XGI Volari V8 processors.

Two 5.25" power connectors

Fig 3. A closer look at the two 5.25 power connectors, each powering a single Volari V8 processor.

C P Lin, XGI media specialist

Fig 4. XGI media specialist, C P Lin, proudly holding their Volari Duo V8 Ultra reference sample.

3Dmark2003 benchmark score

Fig 5. The default 3Dmark2003 benchmark score for the Volari Duo V8 Ultra on a 3GHz Pentium 4 system.

Obviously these two processors consume more power than available through the PCI slot, thus XGI opted for a connector for external power, as weve gotten used to from Nvidia and ATi. XGIs reference sample used two 5.25 power connectors, but were unsure whether the final products thatll hit the shelves will also feature two. At the moment XGI is looking for board partners and as was evident from the line forming outside of XGIs private suite at the Hyatt hotel in Taipei, many of the popular videocard manufacturers have showed interest in the product. Pricing on the final product could not yet be given as thats largely dependant on the videocard manufacturers, but XGI was quick to note that theyre hoping to get products out of the door just before the holiday season.

We also were able to evaluate performance as XGI had a number of demosystems up and running, each featuring one of XGIs products. The Volari Duo V8 Ultra was running with default clockspeeds and beta drivers, yet managed to squeeze out a respectable 5633 3Dmarks in 3Dmark2003, thats right up there with the ATi Radeon 9800 Pro and Nvidias FX 5900 Ultra. The demosystem itself was a 3GHz Pentium 4 that had a default Windows XP installation with DirectX 9.0, and had no other tweaks or optimizations applied to it as far as we could see. Overall XGI made a solid impression and it looks like they have a product that could, once again, heat things up in the 3D graphics card area, well be keeping a close eye on XGI and should receive a sample shortly.

[UPDATE: Computex 2003 Taiwan, September 28th]

Sander Sassen.

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