SiS Xabre - IntroductionIntroduction
SiS Xabre - Specifications and Informaton on XabreThe information that makes senseThe SiS Xabre GPU was an overnight popup. Nothing was really known about the GPU until its official press release from SiS. Now that this has happened we don't have to speculate, we have our facts.The Xabre is a totally redesigned 256-bit 3D chip which supports what SiS calls "8x8" functions. The first "8" represents the support for the AGP 8X interface and the second "8" for DirectX 8.1 support. The Xabre carries a third generation T&L unit. This new engine supports Pixel Shaders 1.3 in hardware utilizing a 29 programmable instruction set, making it one of the most powerful T&L engines available.While carrying the best T&L engine there is, however, one major problem; there is no hardware vertex shaders, only a software vertex shader that can be emulated by the CPU. This fact alone does reduce on paper the power of the Xabre quite a bit, as vertex shaders are being used quite a bit lately.While the CPU lacks the Vertex engine, SiS has added a few new features that on paper help improve quality of the CPU for the low budget 3D accelerator. The Frictionless Memory Control, or FMC, is a method SiS uses to boost effective memory bandwidth and improve overall memory efficiency by adding extra filters into the memory paths to allow smoother and much better ECC than other video controllers.The Coloredeemer Technology is something which enhances color rendering of the displayed images. Additionally, the chip's MotionFixing Video processor provides crystal clear video images with four methods of de-interlacing. Their anti-aliasing method, known as Jitter-Free Anti-Aliasing, provides 1X, 2X, and 4X full scene anti-aliasing (FSAA) without the jagged frames of other 3D accelerators.SiS provides a link layer for those lovely extras such as TV out, DVI and Dual Monitor technologies, which SiS has named Dual Scene Technology. The principals of this are the same as nView. You can have duplicate desktops on two displays, merged displays where half turns up on both monitors or you can have dual desktops - This is where one program appears full screen on one monitor and another comes up on a second monitor, very handy. All these features have been bundled into the SiS 301 controller chip which accompanies just about all Xabre cards.At the moment there are currently three different Xabre cards -The Xabre 80, Xabre 200 and Xabre 400. Xabre 80 runs an engine/Core clock of 200/166Mhz and only uses AGP4x protocols. Xabre 200 runs a core/memory clock of 200/166, same as the 80 only this chip has AGP8x support, this will ultimately give the Xabre 200 a slight lead over the 80.Xabre 400 is the high end of the SiS 3D family with a core/memory clock of 250/250 on an AGP8x bus. This is a rather slow clock speed for a 0.13 micron die, so we should see faster core speeds from SiS very soon I would imagine.Below you will see a block diagram of the SiS Xabre CPU which should give you a basic idea of how the Xabre itself works.
SiS Xabre - SiS Reference Xabre 400The SiS Reference cardThe Card
SiS Xabre - Benchmarks - Test System and FSAAProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 2.4B GHz (Northwood)Memory: 2x 256MB DDR-333 Kingmax (512MB) Video Card: Leadtek A170 Pro (GF4 MX460)Hard Disk: Seagate Barracuda ATA-3 UDMA 100 7200RPM Drivers:Nvidia DetXP rev 29.42, Xabre 302A.02 VGASoftware Used: 3Dmark2000, 3Dmark2001, Quake 3 Arena, Aquanox, DroneZmark, Max Payne, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force, Jedi Knight II.Editors Note: Please note that only one resolution of 1024x768 was used since the reviewers monitor is currently only capable of this resolution. A new monitor is currently being sought.FSAA - Quake 3 ArenaDue to popular request, we have added some images taken from Quake 3 Arena with FSAA enabled on both of our test cards.nVidia Geforce4 MX460 FSAA 4x Enabled
SiS Xabre - Benchmarks - MadOnionSynthetic 3D Benchmarks3DMark20003DMark2000 is a synthetic Direct3D benchmark that is compatible with DirectX 7. It takes full advantage of the Geforce2, ATI Radeon and DirectX 7 enhancements. 3DMark2000 has become one of the world's most used benchmark utilities. While this benchmark is getting old, it does show how well the new hardware reacts with older games that still use DX7.
SiS Xabre - Benchmarks - OpenGLReal World 3D BenchmarksQuake 3 ArenaQuake 3 Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a range of different products.
SiS Xabre - Benchmarks - D3DReal World D3D BenchmarksMax PayneMax Payne is a new generation DirectX 7/8 game. This game is based on Hardware T&L advancements as well as many other features of the Intel Pentium 4 and Athlon XP.
SiS Xabre - Overclocking and ConclusionOverclockingOverclocking on the Xabre reference card was surprisingly impressive. Being clocked at a default speed of 250MHz core and 250MHz memory clock we managed to run a maximum speed of 308MHz core and 295MHz (590MHz DDR) memory clock through the latest version of PowerStrip. We found this rather surprising since this is a reference card which we don't usually see good overclocking results from.ConclusionIn the past we have seen that SiS 3D chipsets have been something that should have been placed in a wood heater rather than a PC, to be perfectly honest. The new strategy from the R&D team at SiS has turned a few heads, not only with the Xabre but with their new AMD and P4 chipset offerings...That's what first made me think "Have they done it?"...The answer is Yes.Hardware wise the Xabre exceeds the limits normally set for a value based 3D accelerator, and while being able to keep within relatively close proximity of the Geforce MX460 (its main competitor, SiS tells us), with these early drivers competing against nVidia's mature drivers, is quite impressive.SiS needs to now divert a bit more effort into researching their drivers, as they still need some tweaking and patches for games to allow the pixel shader technology to be fully optimized, as well as ironing the bugs out that we saw and others have seen.Summing it up SiS have done an excellent job to produce a very well rounded video card that could be the next biggest vale card that the Geforce 2 MX originally was, only time will tell...- ProsFastStableExcellent OverclockingHardware T&L Engine128mb memory- ConsNo hardware vertex shaderDriver issues causing crashes in some benchmarksRating - 8.5/10
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