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A video card from SiS circa 2002, the Xabre video card, is quite an interesting piece of hardware. I quote from SiS's marketing page on the Xabre (at http://www.xabre.com/about/index.html)

For 500 years, demons tyrannized the world of human vision with omnipresent control. The demons competed among themselves, and the winner set the rules for domineering the world of human vision while human beings paid a high price for their enjoyment.

In the midst of all the chaos, the people began to pray for the arrival of the mysterious knight, whom legend had it would end the strife and rejuvenate the visual world. And so it happened that a mysterious knight - Xabre - did appear at this time. He understood the people's suffering under the demons' tyranny. He knew what the people needed and secretly began breeding a magical steed that could race across the sky.

During his quest, he also found three lost sacred stones - Pixelizer Engine, Software Shader and Frictionless Memory Control, each with wondrous powers.

With these treasures, Xabre entered the forest of visual fantasy bordering the land of the demons, where he discovered the 8X8 twin sword. The one-and-only twin sword in the world was stuck in a cold and hard rock so big that no ordinary human being could pull it out.

Xabre knew that without this magical weapon he would not be able to defeat the demons. And so he gathered all the wisdom and power of the people and withdrew the sword from the rock.

So there you have it. SiS' Xabre is intended to compete with NVIDIA's Geforce4 MX. It has some advantages over the Geforce4 MX. The Xabre is equipped with a hardware pixel shader, but emulates the vertex shader in software. The Geforce4 MX has neither. Also, like the Parhelia, the Xabre 400 series is AGP 8x/AGP 3.0 compliant.

The Xabre series is split into three cards:

  • Xabre 80 is the lowest-cost offering, intended to compete with the Geforce4 MX 420. Like its more advanced brethren, the Xabre 80 sports all the features a Xabre 400 has, with a few key exceptions: the Xabre 80 has been burdened with a 64-bit memory bandwidth bus and cursed with AGP 4x/2.0 compliance.
  • The Xabre 200 is the same as the Xabre 400, with 128-bit memory; as a result, memory bandwidth is somewhat lowered. It is SIS' answer to the Geforce4 MX 440.
  • The Xabre 400 is SiS' high-end card, intended to compete with the Geforce4 MX 460.

Performance-wise, the Xabre shows great potential. It smashes the Geforce4 MX where pixel shading is used; however, it lags behind in normal OpenGL benchmarks such as Quake 3 Arena. Clearly, the Xabre's drivers are not optimized yet, but the card itself looks very promising. SiS has somewhat of a negative reputation because it is confused with the cheap OEM video card maker S3 (now SonicBlue).

Clearly, SiS has a winner here, but only time will tell if any video card maker can topple NVIDIA.

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