Matrox is a producer of video card components and equipment for personal computers. Based in Dorval, Quebec, Canada it was founded by Lorne Trottier and Branko Matić.
Matrox is an umbrella name for two legal entities: first, Matrox Graphics Inc., the entity most recognized by the public which has been making graphics cards for over 30 years; second, Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd., a company comprising two divisions: Imaging—making frame grabbers—and Digital Video Solutions—making video-editing products for professional markets.
Matrox's first graphics card product was the ALT-256 for S-100 bus computers, released in 1978. The ALT-256 produced a 256 by 256 pixel monochrome display by "racing the beam"; having the host CPU set registers on the fly to produce bit patterns as the screen was being drawn (see Atari 2600 for details). This mode of operation meant the ALT-256 required no frame double buffering. An expanded version followed, the ALT-512, both available for Intel SBC bus machines as well. Through the 1980s, Matrox's cards followed changes in the hardware side of the market, to Multibus and then the variety of PC standards.
During the 1990s, the Matrox Millennium series of cards attracted buyers willing to pay for a higher quality and sharper display. In 1994 Matrox introduced the Matrox Impression, an add-on card that worked in conjunction with a Millennium card to provide 3D acceleration. The Impression was aimed primarily at the CAD market. A later version of the Millennium included features similar to the Impression but by this time the series was lagging behind emerging vendors like 3dfx Interactive. Matrox made several attempts to increase its share of the market for 3D-capable cards. The Matrox Mystique, released in 1996, was the company's first attempt to make a card with good gaming performance and with pricing suitable for that market. The product had good 2D and 3D performance but produced poor 3D images with the result that it was derided in reviews, being compared unfavorably with the Voodoo1 and even being nicknamed the "Matrox Mystake".
Another attempt was the Matrox G100 and G200. The G200 was sold as two models, the Millennium G200 was a higher-end version typically equipped with 8 MB SGRAM memory, while the Mystique G200 used slower SDRAM memory but added a TV-out port. The G200 offered competent 3D performance for the first time, but was released shortly before a new generation of cards from Nvidia and ATI completely outperformed it. Later versions in the Matrox G400 series were never able to regain the crown, and despite huge claims for the Matrox Parhelia, their performance continued to be quickly outpaced by the major players.
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