S3 deals $500 PC accelerator, first audio chip

The $500 PC took another step forward today when graphics accelerator maker S3 announced a $30 single-chip device that combines a PC system controller and multimedia accelerator.

Called the Plato/PX Integrated Platform Accelerator, the device is intended for emerging categories such as the NetPC and Internet access devices, as well as entry-level systems. Systems based on the device needn't have any separate graphics controller or card. Also, the device shares memory between functions and speeds graphics and overall system performance by connecting directly to the processor bus. Video and MPEG peripherals can connect directly to the Plato/PX.

"The PC market has reached a crossroads - current architectures make it difficult for manufacturers to drop the price points," said Gary Johnson, president and CEO of S3 in a prepared statement. "By dramatically altering the traditional platform architecture, S3 has enabled PC manufacturers to take the next step."

Separately, S3 said it was entering the sound arena. The firm's debut part will be the Sonic Vibes wavetable processor, which the firm claims offers unprecedented high-quality audio for mainstream PCs. The device costs $30 to OEM motherboard makers and PC vendors, supports Microsoft's DirectMusic API and stores instrument sounds in system memory. S3 claims the part is the first to use the PCI bus for acceleration.