The PC hardware market is one of the toughest around, costs are rising and so is demand. This means that the battlefield has left a number of companies that are now dead bodies or have fled the PC market altogether. Some of them are unknown, while others marked an era in PC graphics chips.
The missing graphics card brands on PC
We have compiled what we consider to be the most important because of the impact each of them has had on the market. Not only for gaming, but also in the low end and even in the professional range. So there aren’t all of them and we may have forgotten a few in the process of writing this article, as there have been many that have popped up over time.
International office machines, where it all began
The first of the older brands of PC graphics cards was IBM. Talking about a graphics card today may seem strange to us, but all the PC graphics standards that were in the 80s are derived from the original IBM designs. Which graphics cards have set standards such as MDA, CGA, EGA and the popular VGA. As well as other professional standards for high resolution displays.
IBM found itself out of the graphics card market as soon as other brands started selling theirs in a highly competitive market that began to squeeze margins. An IBM used to the high margins of the enterprise market completely abandoned the home graphics card market where profits were lower and competitiveness was high.
3Dfx Interactive and its popular Voodoo
Initially, 3Dfx was a company dedicated to the manufacture of graphics hardware for arcade machines, but the drop in the cost of memory led them to enter the graphics card market, with the particularity of being exclusively dedicated to 3d graphic rendering. Being the 3Dfx Voodoo, the first graphics cards capable of reproducing 3D graphics in real time.
To this day, 3Dfx no longer exists, the reason is that bad decisions by their board of directors led them to bankruptcy in 2000, just four years after reaching fame with their Voodoo Graphics, they had gone bankrupt. . Most of his talent ended up at NVIDIA after Jen-Hsun Huang’s company bought the remnants of the then bankrupt company.
Out of curiosity, NVIDIA GeForce’s fourth generation 2D graphics system until the removal of the VGA port was inherited by NVIDIA from 3DFx Interactive. Which is paradoxical given that precisely 3Dfx has become popular with 3D graphics.
3Dlabs, the professional graphics card brand
3Dlabs was one of the first companies to launch specialized 3D PC hardware, not for use in games but for 3D modeling and CAD or computer-aided design applications. Its first graphics card was the 3DLabs GLINT 300 TX, which was released in 1994. Today it won’t sound familiar to many, but it is one of the long-lost graphics card brands, one of the most well-known.
It was the first graphics card to fully support the entire OpenGL standard, something that wouldn’t be repeated until 1999, when NVIDIA would eventually release its NV10 or better known as GeForce 256 GPU. And when we say with full OpenGL support we mean it had a built-in geometric engine and wasn’t CPU dependent for it.
Why did it fail? 3Dlabs designed it to work with the Intel 80486, specifically the Vesa Local Bus, a 32-bit version of the ISA standard that was not found on Intel Pentium boards. This, combined with the high cost of a graphics card and the fact that 3Dlabs never had an interest in attracting PC gaming users, cemented its failure and the company’s subsequent demise.
ATI Technologies, a classic
It can’t be said that ATI Technologies is dead, but it is one of the brands of graphics cards that disappeared, but was absorbed by AMD after its purchase in the mid-2000s. Today, AMD is known as Radeon Technology Group, the graphics subdivision of AMD. So we cannot say that ATI has disappeared from the map, it is still alive although with the AMD brand.
ATI also had a smartphone GPU division, in charge of Imageon architectures. What was sold to Qualcomm and it is they who are in charge of Adreno GPUs in their Snapdragon SoCs. Its technology therefore continues to exist and to be cutting-edge, but in different companies and different markets.
Matrox Graphics, the brand of professional graphics cards
If there is a brand which with its Matrox Millenium has become the absolute standard of quality in terms of SVGA graphics cards, it is Matrox, a company which despite the high quality of its 2D cards has been completely drawn into a different domain. to his., that of graphics cards to render 3D graphics. the results? The complete abandonment of the PC graphics card market.
Their last architecture was Matrox Parhelia in 2001, which couldn’t keep up with NVIDIA and ATI architectures, after that and seeing how they couldn’t compete in the graphics card market anymore, they gave it up altogether. Today, Matrox is a company that still exists, but in the video capture and transmission industry.
Number Nine Visual Technology
Number Nine was one of several professional PC-based CAD graphics card companies that existed in the 1980s. In the 1990s, they left the professional range and began to take over the mid-range. from the PC. Starting in the 90s, they stopped using their own designs to sell modified versions of the S3 graphics chips.
In a search for independence, Number Nine decided to create their own graphics chip under the name Imageon 128, with specifications very similar to the ATI Rage, but it was a huge commercial fiasco and dragged it to its final disappearance.
S3 Graphics, the low-end graphics card brand
S3 started to become popular for offering SVGA graphics cards in the lower end of the market, if you had bought a PC in the 90s and before the arrival of 2D cards with integrated 3D then the store you had in your neighborhood would have probably put one of the S3 graphics cards in it. Whether it’s a threesome or a virgin.
The launch of 3D game cards with VGA embedded inside by NVIDIA, 3Dfx and others led them to develop their own 3D architecture under the name S3 Savage. Which had two versions: S3 Savage 3D and S3 Savage 4. Unfortunately, worse performance than the first NVIDIA GeForce and ATI Radeon with bad drivers ended up killing it.
However, today its technology is still in use. Since then the standard DirectX texture compression mechanism, which is used by all GPUs, was developed in S3 graphics labs.
Videologic and the rendering of its PowerVR tiles
Videologic to this day has not disappeared, but is known today as Imagination Technologies, so it has simply undergone a name change. It is known for its tile rendering based architectures, under the PowerVR brand, with which they attempted to compete in the PC 3D card market against 3Dfx first and NVIDIA later.
They have become very well known on PC with their Kyro range, but have decided to abandon the PC graphics card market and switch to smartphones. Where its graphical architecture has been used in various smartphones such as the popular Apple iPhone.
So it was with S3 and Matrox, another of the companies that shied away from the PC GPU market, led to the duopoly between AMD and NVIDIA, which continues to this day.