|Interview with Dan Wood, Matrox Graphics
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
Matrox has been a significant player in the video market for some time now. The first board I personally owned was the Matrox Millennium. At the time of its release, near the beginning of the 3d-accelerator market, it was the fastest 2d board out there and sported some of the highest resolutions and refresh rates also. This small company was riding the cutting edge of technology.
The Millennium also had some 3d acceleration features. Sure, there was some compatibility issues. But for most users the Millennium was an excellent product.
Not long afterwards Matrox released a stand alone 3d board, and a new version of the Millennium that was significantly improved over the earlier version.
More recently Matrox made a splash with their G200 series. When I first got my hands on a pre-release Mystique G200 in the spring of 1998, I was in heaven. Here was a completely stable, feature rich board that rivaled the 3dfx Voodoo 1 for speed, but with much better image quality. Goodbye to the image problems and compatibility issues of the Riva 128!
Naturally, Nvidia wasn't sitting still either, and the G200 was shortly surpassed by the twin texel technology of the Riva TNT, which rivals Voodoo2 for speed, but again with superior image quality.
In response, Matrox has enhanced their product line with full featured G200-TV products, appealing to the gaming and video marketplace with the abilities to record and edit material from a VCR or camcorder, watch and record TV on your PC, accelerate software DVD and MPEG-1, etc.
Not long ago Matrox announced the G400, a new chip that is passing TNT2 in some benchmarks. We fielded this interview to Dan Wood, Senior Product Manager for Matrox, to get a sense of their direction in the 3d-accelerator market.
Q: Matrox is an innovative company, and for its size seems to always compete with the big boys. How is this possible for a small Canadian company?
A: Believe it or not Matrox is 23 years old (pre-Apple, pre-Dell, pre-almost anybody else) and I guess we benefit from our experience. Being a company that makes both our own silicon and our own board level products we are able to focus on bringing highly optimized and very stable products to the market. At this point Matrox Graphics employs more than 1000 people, of which over half are engineers.
Q: When did the Millennium first appear on the scene? Were you surprised at the reception and accolades it received worldwide?
A: The first Millennium hit the market in 1993. It was revolutionary for the time including a bona fide Gouraud shading 3D accelerator and the most cutting edge 2D and video acceleration anybody had ever dreamed of. We thought it was the most technically superior product and we were really happy that the market agreed with us.
Q: The more recent G200 line were by far the most stable pre-release 3d boards I've ever had my hands on. Image quality and speed were both cutting-edge. Is this a sign of maturity as a hardware maker, bit of luck, or... ?
A: In addition to making really cool gaming accelerators, Matrox is the pre-eminent supplier of graphics boards to the high performance business desktop groups at some of the largest computer OEMs in the world including Compaq, HP and IBM. These companies have stringent driver quality requirements and to meet these requirements means that we tend to product very stable high performance products.
Q: One of the goals of 3d board makers is to have their product used by system builders like Dell, Compaq etc. How has Matrox fared in this area?
A: Matrox has been very successful in working with OEM's to integrate Matrox products into many major systems, like Sony, Dell, Compaq, and Hewlett Packard, to name a few.
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