This Story Posted:
June 24th, 1999

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[9:01 AM]
Another Sign: 3Dfx "Generic" Mac Drivers Mean Cheap 3D Cards For Mac Users
Inside Mac Games seems to have been the first to catch this stunning development that will have a far reaching impact in the world of Mac gaming and the rest of the Mac community as well. In a Usenet posting, a 3Dfx employee announced the company would be making generic Mac drivers available for off the shelf Voodoo 2 and Voodoo 3 cards. This means that Mac users could download these generic drivers and run one of the many Voodoo 2 cards sold for the PC (at PC prices), or the Voodoo 3 card that 3Dfx themselves will be putting out. The following is taken from IMG which in turn got the quote from the Usenet posting:

In order to better support the MacOS community, 3dfx has decided to release Glide 2.x and Glide 3.x drivers for Voodoo 2. These drivers will be completely generic in nature and not tied to any particular Voodoo2 board design. These drivers will be provided free of charge via our website. They are available on an as-is basis and are unsupported. Actual date of availability will be posted in this newsgroup, but it is our intent to make these drivers available within the next few weeks.

It is also our intention to release similar drivers for Voodoo3 2000 PCI boards in the near future. Specifically, we will be releasing 2D display drivers as well as Glide 2.x and Glide 3.x libraries. These drivers will not be supported, and thus will be made available free of charge to users who would like to use them. We know there are compatibility issues with Voodoo3 on the Macintosh platform, and we will do our best to document them and ensure that both game developers and end users are aware of the issues. Specific information regarding availability will be provided via this newsgroup.

OpenGL drivers for Voodoo2 and Voodoo3 that plug directly into Apple's OpenGL implementation will not be available. Instead, we will try to work closely with the developers of the Mesa 3D library to help bring OpenGL games to Voodoo2 and Voodoo3 users on the Macintosh.

This marks a dramatic departure from the past when Mac drivers for technologies like 3Dfx acceleration had to be developed independently by companies like TechWorks, Micro Conversions, and VillageTronics. These manufacturers, working with MUCH lower shipping volumes, had to charge much higher prices than PC Voodoo makers, much to the chagrin of ungrateful Mac users.

In an interesting twist, TechWorks (the first company to bring a Voodoo card to the Mac), and Micro Conversions have exited the Mac 3D acceleration market. Micro Conversions has actually gone out of business. We are awaiting word from VillageTronics on how this will effect their future plans.

It is important to note that these drivers will be unsupported by 3Dfx, another issue for Mac specific Voodoo manufacturers. In addition, it is very interesting that the company will not be working with Apple's implementation of OpenGL. While the Mesa 3D library is fine, it will not lead to the same performance as with Apple's direct implementation. However, this is a small price to pay indeed and well worth the opportunity to buy Voodoo cards at PC prices.

The Mac Observer Spin: It is hard to emphasize enough the difficulty that Mac specific 3D manufacturers faced with the Mac market. Though Village Tronic may be hurt by this move (we hope that their business model will have room for this development and they have several video cards that are simply fantastic), the fact is that this is a remarkably important development for the overall Mac market. With recent efforts by Apple to regain lost Mac gaming development and the plethora of Mac games that have resulted, and now the ability to buy some of the finest 3D acceleration at the same price available to PC gamers, the Mac is now the finest gaming platform that it has ever been.

This is important to the overall Mac market because kids drive so much of adult computer buying choices. Kids want to play cool games after all. Heck, many adults also have "playing cool games" as a high priority in their computing lives. Two of the biggest deterrents to making the Mac these user's platform of choice have now been eliminated. Choice of games (reduced rather than eliminated), and grabbing a cool 3D card. The other major competitor in the gaming market has also been making noises about coming to the Mac market. We are referring to the TNT chipset. Once that is released, Mac gamers will be set.

We are including this article in our series titled "Another Sign" because this may be the biggest sign yet that the Mac platform is alive, healthy, and bigger than ever. 3Dfx, wary of the abismal success rates with TechWorks and Micro Conversions, would not have bothered with this, and developing drivers are a great bother indeed, unless the Mac market was large enough for them to make the effort. More specifically, if 3Dfx had not perceived the Mac market as being large enough to make the effort.

Once again, once these drivers are released the Mac will be among the finest gaming platforms on the market. This is good news for all.

3Dfx



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