Matrox Electronic Systems
Type Private
Industry Computer hardware
Founded 1976
Headquarters Dorval, Canada
Products Video cards
Employees 900+

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.

Matrox Mystique

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".[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Matrox Morphis Framegrabber

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 which 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.

Since then, Matrox has continued to shift the focus of its card designs towards specialized, niche markets, moving more deeply into enterprise, industrial, and government applications. In recent years they have held no more than a 3–5% share of the total video card market. Matrox is now divided in three divisions: Matrox Graphics, Matrox Video, and Matrox Imaging. Matrox Graphics is the primary consumer and end-user brand, while Matrox Video markets digital video editing solutions, and Matrox Imaging sells high-end video capture systems and "smart cameras", video cameras with a built-in computer for machine vision applications.

Driver support

To support Unix and Linux, Matrox has released only binary drivers for most of their product line and one partially open source driver for the G550 card which comes with a binary blob to enable some additional functionality. These drivers were tested and are allegedly supported for quite old distributions [1]. In fact they don't work on newer kernels and XOrg server versions. In addition to the proprietary drivers provided by Matrox, the DRI community has provided drivers under the GPL licence for many more of the devices.

See also



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External links

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