S3 Graphics, Ltd (commonly referred to as S3) was an American computer graphics company. The company sold the Trio, ViRGE, Savage 3D, and Chrome series of graphics processors. Struggling against competition from 3dfx Interactive, ATI and Nvidia, it merged with hardware manufacturer Diamond Multimedia in 1999. The resulting company renamed itself to SONICblue Incorporated, and, two years later, the graphics portion was spun off into a new joint effort with VIA Technologies. The new company focused on the mobile graphics market. VIA Technologies' stake in S3 Graphics was purchased by HTC in 2011.
|Fate||Defunct or Merged|
|Headquarters||Fremont, California, U.S.|
The company's first products were among the earliest graphical user interface (GUI) accelerators. These chips were popular with video card manufacturers, and their followup designs, including the Trio64, made strong inroads with OEMs. S3 took over the high end 2D market just prior to the popularity of 3D accelerators.
S3's first 3D accelerator chips, the ViRGE series, controlled half of the market early on but could not compete against the high end 3D accelerators from ATI, Nvidia, and 3Dfx. In some cases, the chips performed worse than software-based solutions without an accelerator. As S3 lost market share, their offerings competed in the mid-range market. Their next design, the Savage 3D, was released early and suffered from driver issues, but it introduced S3TC, which became an industry standard. S3 bought Number Nine's assets in 1999, then merged with Diamond Multimedia. The resulting company renamed itself SONICblue, refocused on consumer electronics, and sold its graphics business to VIA Technologies. Savage-derived chips were integrated into numerous VIA motherboard chipsets. Subsequent discrete derivations carried the brand names DeltaChrome and GammaChrome.
In July 2011, HTC Corporation announced they were buying VIA Technologies' stake in S3 Graphics, thus becoming the majority owner of S3 Graphics. In November, the United States International Trade Commission ruled against S3 in a patent dispute with Apple.