Videologic / PowerVR PCX & PCX 2

(This posting is still in beta-stage, information herein not confirmed and exhaustive!)

The first chips from PowerVR reaching the publics' attention were called PCX in Q4 1996 and a little later the improved PCX2. They were used on a small number of third party board designs, namely the Apocalypse 3D (and later the Apocalypse 5D as a 2D/3D combo card with 2D being delivered by a Tseng chip) and the add-on card Matrox m3D. Additionally, there seems to be a small amount of cards pre-built into Compaq Presario systems.

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The chip was manufactured by NEC in 500 nm process tech an looked quite huge in their ceramic housing. The cards utilized the PCI bus and were equipped with 4 MiByte of SDR-SDRAM which was enough for a render resolution of up to 1024x768. Because the chip didn't need a separate framebuffer and used a technique called Infinite Planes, it rendered only small chunks of the image at a time, sending finished ones to the 2D cards' buffer and consequently, the cards didn't have any external display inteface. The generation of these little chunks of the image was done by the host CPU and thus the PCX chips had a greater demand for CPU horsepower than most competing solutions.

Videologic (PowerVR) Series 1 PCX 2 on Matrox m3DVideologic (PowerVR) Series 1 PCX 2 on Matrox m3D back view