Graphics chipmaker S3 has announced plans for Savage4, a graphics architecture intended to give mid-priced personal computers the advanced graphics features typically found in expensive workstations. The design of Savage4 is based on the next-generation version of the AGP (advanced graphics port) graphics standard from Intel. AGP brought sophisticated workstation-class graphics to desktop PCs with its 2X standard. Savage4 will use the coming 4X specification that is twice as fast. Savage4 would enable PCs to display true colour at any resolution, and give higher resolution and photo-realistic image quality, S3 said. Its support of up to 32 megabytes of SDRam or SGRam allows the higher resolutions, while a stencil buffer lets moving graphics images cast shadows. Savage4 also will contain DX6 texture compression, advanced digital flat-panel display support, and will support microprocessor 3-D technologies Streaming SIMD from Intel and 3DNow! from Advanced Micro Devices. Priced at US$25 each in quantities of 10,000, Savage4 is aimed at PCs with prices starting from $1,500. It is due for release by mid-year and PCs containing the chip should hit the market by the third quarter. A cheaper Savage4 chip, the GT, will be released for lower-priced PCs. It will have AGP 2X. Graphics chips are gaining importance as computer interfaces and 3-D games become more sophisticated. S3 led the graphics chip market until last year, when it lost share to present front-runner, ATI Technologies, which was more aggressive in rolling out AGP products. ATI, in addition to other graphics chipmakers Nvidia and SiS, plans to offer 4X AGP products. S3 was 'negotiating a great deal with Intel to create differentiation in future products [that would] be very difficult for the competition to match', S3 chief executive Ken Potashner said. S3 recently signed a 10-year cross-licensing agreement that ultimately may lead to low-cost parts for set-top boxes, PCs and palmtop PCs because S3 will be able to make products based on Intel intellectual property. S3 also plans to integrate graphics and core logic into a single chip that would be targeted at set-top boxes and global positioning systems. Core logic is typically contained separately on the motherboard. The company plans to release the integrated chip by the second half of the year. S3 might be in line to receive $400 to $700 million if its Taiwanese joint-venture company USC could attain a stock market listing, Mr Potashner said. S3 owns 16 per cent of USC, with Alliance Semiconductor and UMC splitting the remainder. It was hoped that USC would go public this year, he said. The money would help boost the cash flow of S3, which last month reported fourth-quarter losses of $70.3 million on revenues of $41.6 million. Its losses last year were $113.2 million on revenues of $224.6 million.