XGI Volari - Newest GPU on the Block
When XGI Technology announced the Volari line of graphics processors for the
desktop and mobile market on September 15th, the collective response from the PC community was..."Wha...?" Closely followed by "who?"
Not really surprising if you take things at face value,
since in its current incarnation, XGI Technology has only been around since
late May of 2003. Four months is not much time to put together a comprehensive
line of graphics processor units.
The truth, of course, is that
XGI has been around in one incarnation or another for a fair bit longer than
that, and hence there is a solid foundation for the products they are now
selling. In this article, we will examine the company and their forthcoming
products, and try to get a clearer picture of what exactly they are offering to
the world of PC graphics.
XGI and why should you pay them close attention? Well,
as mentioned above, XGI Technology Inc.
was founded in Taiwan in May of this year. What's not mentioned, at least on
their website is that XGI Technology, originally christened Tu Chiang
Technology, then more tellingly Xabre Graphics Inc. (XGI), before settling on
their current moniker (which stands for eXtreme Graphics Innovation), is actually the former Multimedia Product Division of Silicon integrated Systems (SiS).
of course the noted chipset manufacturer, and the less noted producer of the
ill-fated Xabre GPU and assorted other graphics chipsets. XGI's chairman, Louis
Chien, is also the special assistant to the chairman of SiS Corporation, and its
president Chris Lin was formerly the VP of the
SiS Multimedia division.
Shortly after its formation,
XGI acquired Trident's mobile graphics division, along with the attendant business. According to news
reports at the time, XGI intended to keep its former SiS and
Trident employees working in separate teams on their individual graphics specialties, and then
merge the research at a later date. This may go a long
way in explaining how XGI technology has managed to offer such
a comprehensive array of desktop and mobile GPU's in such a short
period of time.
When XGI Technology was formed, the general
opinion was that they were going to develop and market a
successor to the Xabre GPU, SiS's attempt at cracking the lower end
PC games market.
However, XGI later revealed that their product would not be christened
the 'Xabre 2' or anything similar, owing to the fact that 'Xabre'
was a trademark of SiS Corporation. Given that XGI, though an
independent company, is partially owned and operated by SiS, this seems a
somewhat unlikely reason. A
more reasonable idea is that XGI management wanted to remove any association
with the lower-end (and generally unheralded) Xabre GPU from its upcoming
product line, given that some Volari models are targeted at the High-end
gaming/PC enthusiast market.