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Take a Look At How It Looks...

As I stated before, the graphics controller on the MVP4 chipset nearly doubles the measurable performance of the SiS530 2D/3D graphics engine.  This should in no way lead you to believe that the performance is anywhere near that of today's modern stand-alone graphics chips, but rather assure you of better than adequate business graphics capabilities and also offer the ability to actually experience 3D graphics applications on a limited level. 

The Apollo MVP4 Graphics Controller is a fully integrated CRT and TV 64-bit 2D/3D Accelerator. The high performance graphics engine offers high speed 3D image processing in full compliance and compatibility with IBM® VGA and VESA™ extended VGA. As an integrated controller, it allows unprecedented cost and performance advantages by eliminating the need for an external frame buffer while at the same time gaining local access to a larger amount of memory. Many functions can now be eliminated that previously consumed large amounts of bandwidth.
The Apollo MVP4 Graphics Controller, equipped with a single-cycle 3D GUI Engine, pipelines 3D rendering process architecture in hardware, providing real-time interactions with solid 3D models in CAD/CAM, 3D modeling, and 3D games. It supports all key 3D rendering operations, including: Gouraud shading for smooth object surfaces, texture mapping for realistic object textures, 16-bit hardware Z-buffering for fast 3D depth calculations, and Alpha Blending for transparency effects.
The Apollo MVP4 Graphics Controller’s highly innovative design, a full 64-bit memory interface with a high performance graphics engine which can support a RAMDAC  running up to 230MHz, dramatically improves GUI functions and significantly promotes overall system operation.
The Apollo MVP4 Graphics Controller supports a full AGP implementation internally to remain compatible with existing software and programming models. However, since the engine is integrated it enjoys a higher bandwidth and lower latency than is possible with discrete solutions. AGP operations can include direct access of the system memory by the 2D/3D engine to provide increased texture memory.

Although the MVP4 specification support AGP X2, in order to achieve the X2 frequency you will need to load the newest VIA AGP.vxd version 3.3 before installing the chipset's graphics drivers.  This new .vxd is not the one that accompanies the MVP4 Service Pack that comes on the system board's driver's disk.  To be completely honest, I was unable to get better than a 2% performance increase in any application using AGP X2 and, at this level of performance it hardly seems worth the effort.

The Internal Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) Controller housed within the Northbridge of the MVP4 offers the following capabilities

AGP v2.0 compliant for 1x and 2x transfer modes
Pipelined split-transaction long-burst transfers up to 533 MB/sec
Eight level read request queue
Four level posted-write request queue
Thirty-two level (quadwords) read data FIFO (128 bytes)
Sixteen level (quadwords) write data FIFO (64 bytes)
Intelligent request reordering for maximum AGP bus utilization
Supports Flush/Fence commands
Graphics Address Relocation Table (GART)
One level TLB structure
Sixteen entry fully associative page table
LRU replacement scheme
Independent GART lookup control for host / AGP / PCI master accesses
Windows 95 OSR-2 VXD and integrated Windows 98 / NT5 miniport driver support

And the graphics controller offers the following:

General Graphic Capabilities

64-bit Single Cycle 2D/3D Graphics Engine
Supports 2 to 8 Mbytes of Frame Buffer located in System Memory
Real Time DVD MPEG-2 and AC-3 Playback
Video Processor
Integrated 24-bit 230MHz True Color DAC
Extended Screen Resolutions up to 1600x1200
Extended Text Modes 80 or 132 columns by 25/30/43/60 rows
DirectX 6 and OpenGL ICD API

The EP-MVP4A offers great business graphics if you keep the resolution at 1024x768 or below. Crisp, clear edges, good font smoothing and smooth Windows animations capabilities help to assure that working in business applications keep eye strain to a minimum.   Using Ziff-Davis WinBench 99 the EP-MVP4A generated the following business and high end graphics marks at 1024x768x16: (System Specifications will be outlined a bit further on.)


Test Configuration for EPoX EP-MVP4A Graphics Tests

Mainboard EP-MVP4A
Chipset VIA MVP4
L2 Cache 512KB PBSRAM
Processor(s) IDT WinChip2A 300
Rise mP6 PR266
Cyrix MII 333
AMD K6-2 400/450MHz
Memory 1x64MB PC100
Corsair CM 654S64-BX2
Hard Drive Quantum Fireball EX
12.7G Ultra ATA/33
Graphics Adapter On Board MVP4/Trident Blade3D
Using 8MB of Shared System Memory
Operating System Windows 98

3D Graphics

Incorporating Trident's 8500 rCADE3D™ Graphics Accelerator, a lightweight version of the Blade3D graphics chip, the MVP4 chipset offers the user the ability to experience 3D graphics with the following capabilities:

32 entry command queue, 32 entry data queue
4Kbyte texture cache with over 90% hit rates
Pipelined Setup/Texturing/Rendering Engines
DirectDraw™ acceleration
Multiple buffering and page flipping

Setup Engine

32-bit IEEE floating point input data
Slope and vertex calculations
Back facing triangle culling
1/16 sub-pixel positioning

Rendering Engine

High performance single pass execution
Diffused and specula lighting
Gouraud and flat shading
Anti-aliasing including edge, scene, and super-sampling
OpenGL compliant blending for fog and depth-cueing
16-bit Z-buffer
8/16/32 bit per pixel color formats

Texturing Engine

D3D compressed texture formats DXT1 and DXT2
Anisotropic texture filtering
1/2/4/8-bits per pixel compact palletized textures
16/32-bits per pixel quality non-palletized textures
Pallet formats in ARGB 565, 1555, or 444
Tri-linear, bi-linear, and point-sampled filtering
Mip-mapping with multiple Level-Of-Detail (LOD) calculations and perspective correction
Color keying for translucency

The EP-MVP4A's graphics drivers could use a bit of fine tuning.  I was unable to get the OpenGL ICD to function properly however, using Trident's latest Blade3D drivers, downloaded from their website, I was able to use the Default OpenGL setting in Quake II without any difficulties whatsoever. If you're hoping for high frame rates in OpenGL and D3D applications, I'm sorry to break the news that you'll be sorely disappointed.   Even using the higher shared system memory setting of 8MB of frame buffer allocated, the EP-MVP4A could only garner around 18 FPS in Quake II at 800x600 and 13.50 FPS in the Unreal Flyby at 800x600 using the AMD K6-2 400MHz processor and 64MB of system memory.

Many of you are, no doubt, well aware of the benchmark scores that the newest graphics cards are capable of.  So, for comparison I have included the following scores rendered against Futuremark's 3D Mark 99 MAX graphics benchmarking application running at a resolution of 800x600x16:

While the rendering speed in 3D applications is nothing to write home about the image quality is actually quite good -

Quake II Screenshot
Click for full size image

Unreal Screenshot
Click for full size image

3D Mark 99 MAX offers pretty good image quality tests and below you'll see some of the trouble areas in the MVP4's rendering:

Alpha Blending Reference As Rendered By the EP-MVP4A
w/Trident Drivers
Bilinear Filtering Reference As Rendered By the EP-MVP4A
w/Trident Drivers
Textures Reference As Rendered By the EP-MVP4A
w/Trident Drivers

The texturing is actually pretty good considering that the the graphics frame buffer resides in system memory.  Bilinear filtering appears just a bit blocky and alpha blending gets a slight banding effect. Apart from these minor annoyances the overall 3D graphics quality is quite good

Business Performance


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