Originally founded by Chong Moon Lee and H. H. Huh (the technical designer), Diamond Multimedia was merged (after a long-time companionship) with S3, Incorporated in 1999. The merger was mostly due to S3's willingness to expand their trade from simply producing graphics chipsets to retail graphics cards. The act is somewhat similar with the 1999 3dfx purchase of STB Technologies. The merger was hoped to boost the company's overall capabilities by combining the resources of S3 and Diamond, who were quite close partners over the preceding years. Unfortunately things did not go so well. The greatly anticipated S3 Savage 2000 was a failure, and the excitedly growing 3D sound card market nearly fell apart with the loss of Aureal Semiconductor.
With these market failures, the new combined Diamond/S3 company decided to change direction and leave the PC addon-board market. SONICblue was formed. Diamond Multimedia resurfaced in 2003 after the brand and assets had been purchased by Best Data. Diamond again built expansion boards.
A listing of some of the Speedstar boards
Notable members of the Stealth family have been the Diamond Stealth 3D 2000, by far the most popular S3 Virge-based board. The Diamond Stealth32, using the popular and impressive Tseng Labs ET4000/W32p chipset, was capable of impressive price/performance, especially in DOS. The Diamond Stealth64 Graphics 2001, with the ARK 2000PV/MT chipset, was known for excellent DOS performance at the time. The Diamond Stealth II S220, using the Rendition Verite V2100 2D/3D accelerator, was popular with enthusiasts for its excellent price/performance for both 2D and 3D gaming. In fact a BIOS was released by Diamond for the Stealth II S220 which brought its clock speed up to the same level as the high-end Verite V2200 chip, resulting in equal performance at a significantly lower price.
In the middle of the Stealth line-up, Diamond chose to implement a numbering scheme to differentiate their cards in a new way. For example, the Diamond Stealth Video VRAM was rechristened the Diamond Stealth Video 3xxx. The numbers had more than a random meaning. Specifically, they tell the buyer the card's memory amount and type. The Stealth Video 3240 uses VRAM (3), is equipped with 2MB initially (2), and is upgradeable to 4MB (4). If the first digit is a (2), then the card uses plain DRAM.
The numbering scheme confused many people since Diamond just renamed current cards with new names. The Stealth Video 3240 was simply the old Stealth Video VRAM. New cards did also use the scheme, however, such as the S3 Trio64V+ cards.
A partial selection of Stealth models
The Diamond Edge 3D was the first consumer 3D accelerator card, based on the NVIDIA NV1 chipset. It was manufactured under license from EDGE Games (The Edge Interactive Media Inc, later EDGE Games Inc). The boards were strangely all-encompassing designs. The chipset included full 2D/3D acceleration, an audio engine capable of General MIDI synthesis, and the ability to use Sega Saturn controllers.
The architecture of the NV1 predates the Direct3D philosophy and, as such, game compatibility was a problem with the Diamond Edge boards. Limited and slow Direct3D-supporting drivers did eventually show up, but the boards were simply not up to the task and were unacceptably slow and buggy. It didn't help that the audio section of the card was not particularly excellent either, receiving luke warm reviews regarding MIDI quality (extremely important during the card's time).
A critically acclaimed feature of the Monster 3D II (and all other Voodoo2 boards) was the capability to connect two identical boards in a SLI (Scan-line Interleave) configuration. In SLI, a pair of Voodoo2 boards splits the effort of rendering the 3D scene, allowing performance to be nearly doubled.
The Viper line was Diamond's high-end line. Initially it consisted of a unique accelerator board for VLB and PCI, based upon a combination Oak DOS display chip and a Weitek graphics co-processor for Windows GUI duties.
Towards the end of the 1990s, the Viper line was revived and consisted solely of NVIDIA chipset offerings, the first card being Diamond Viper V330, sporting the featureful Riva 128 chipset. Despite the technological aspects (Riva128 had better 3D features than and similar performance with Voodoo1) the first offering wasn't much of a killer (though Riva128 found a home in many OEM systems), Voodoo having better support from game developers.
One of the last video cards from Diamond before their several-year leave from the market was the Diamond Viper II. This card was highly anticipated as it came after the grand merger between S3 and Diamond. The Viper II was based upon the S3 Savage 2000, a supposed Geforce-killer. Unfortunately the chip itself was badly unfinished silicon and the drivers were a disaster. In fact, the card could really only run two games perfectly: Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament. The much-touted S3TL transform & lighting engine was completely non-functional at release. Registry tweaks to enable it showed extreme bugs and distortions with it enabled, and lower overall performance. Drivers were updated for a few months after release, but the card was quite quickly abandoned. Needless to say it was not great competition for the juggernaut nVidia had turned into.
A selection of Viper boards
Diamond has also preparing an upcoming video card as of September 2007, based on the latest-generation R600 graphics core, the same core used for FireGL V8650 and V8600 cards, but altered the PCB design and also renamed as VFX 2000 series professional workstation graphics card, with at least 2 GB GDDR4 memory onboard .
The Diamond Monster Sound gaming sound card series was a very innovative line. They were the first to really push the envelope in the at-the-time bleeding-edge PCI audio card market. The Monster Sound cards were among the first to support hardware mixing acceleration with Microsoft's new DirectSound and DirectSound3D audio APIs. Most, if not all, also supported Aureal's burgeoning A3D API.
The original Monster Sound card was highly innovative in this regard, but also controversial because it basically broke DOS game compatibility which was still critical at the time. DOS game audio was only functional within a Windows 95 DOS box, which was a finicky way to try to run these old games. It came equipped with a 2MB AdMOS MIDI daughterboard.
The Monster Sound M80 was similar to the original monster sound, but lacked 4 speaker support. It also had a reduced quality AdMOS MIDI daughterboard (1MB).
Monster Sound MX200 was known for its excellent General MIDI quality because of the high quality patch set (licensed from Roland) it was equipped with on its 4MB Dream daughtercard. Otherwise it was technically identical to the original Monster Sound.
The Diamond Monster Sound MX300 was based on the Vortex2 audio ASIC from Aureal Semiconductor. It was a revolutionary step forward in gaming audio, with impressive 3D audio positioning and other innovative effects. Utilizing the then state-of-the-art Aureal A3D 2.0 3D audio API, the MX300 was capable of producing startlingly immersive audio. Its capability to turn simple stereo speakers into a 3D-audio experience was clearly ahead of the pack for the time, and is unique in its presentation compared to even the renowned and far newer Creative Audigy 2 series.
Monster Sound MX400 was advertised as being one of the first sound cards with hardware MP3 decoding acceleration. Unfortunately this was hardly a worthwhile reason to buy the card because the central CPUs in PCs at the time were more than capable of handling MP3 playback. It was also somewhat complicated to make use of the MP3 acceleration because special software was needed to use it.
The Vortex2-equipped MX300 was a notably superior card for 3D audio. Unfortunately Aureal had gone into bankruptcy and was dissolved so their next-generation chips never saw the light of day. Diamond was forced to go with ESS's less powerful chip to be able to continue the line. The MX400 was the last of the Monster Sound cards.
Diamond XtremeSound is the first sound card line launched after the company's restructuring in 2003.
SupraMax DSL modems The SupraMax line is a popular value DSL modem line.
Diamond Micronics motherboards Diamond began manufacturing PC-compatible motherboards after purchasing Micronics Computers Inc. in 1998.
Maximum DVD Diamond was an early (1997) entrant into PC DVD kits with their Maximum DVD 1000DB-VAR (Value Added Reseller) and 2000-RETKIT (RETail KIT). These kits bundled a 'feature reduced' (several pin headers and other parts not installed) full length PCI MPEG2 analog overlay decoder card made by divion. This card connected to the VGA card with an external passthrough cable, a 3.5mm (1/8") external patch cord to the soundcard's line-in jack, and the analog audio cable from the included Toshiba SD-M1002 DVD-ROM drive connected to the divion card while a second cable passed the audio on to the soundcard's internal connector.
Diamond also made kits called the Maximum DVD 1500 and 2500. (Hardware specifications unknown.) The drivers and player software for these are not compatible with the DVD 1000 and 2000. They are a slightly newer product with the 'Navigator' player software having a cleaner user interface.
None of these DVD kits are DirectX compatible and as the drivers are the VXD type they will only work with Windows 95 through 98SE. Dual-layer DVDs are not supported in original Windows 95 or 95a, but are in the various versions of 95 OEM Service Release 2. Windows 98 or 98SE is not recommended due to problems that may happen with video color and alignment. Only the bundled player software can use the hardware MPEG2 decoding of the card.