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November 15th, 1999

[2:00 PM] 3dfx: I'm A Voodoo4 & Voodoo5 Chile'
by Staff

Gamers, rejoice! 3Dfx, makers of the wildly popular, and ridiculously powerful Voodoo graphics cards, have announced their next generation of products. The Voodoo 4 and 5 series was announced today, and should be widely available in the first quarter of next year. The new cards will be available in both PCI and AGP format, leading to speculation that the product, as shipped, will have Macintosh support. The top end version, the Voodoo5 6000 AGP (potentially, only G4 machines could support the high end version) will feature an astonishing 128MB of VRAM, and reach the gigapixel fill rate, or over 1 billion pixels/second. The new card is based on the VSA-100 processor, an advanced graphics rendering chip. Also, in a truly brilliant move, the cards will be backward compatible. That is, programs written to take advantage of the Voodoo3 architecture will also be able to implement the new cards. According to 3Dfx:

The initial advanced processor, the VSA-100, is a highly scalable design that supports the integration of one to 32 chips per system, using proprietary programmable scan-line interleaving (SLI) techniques, to deliver ultimate fill rates and high visual reality through breakthrough digital cinematic effects. Additionally, the VSA-100 architecture substantially improves the overall 3D rendering quality by incorporating advanced full-scene anti-aliasing technology, available for the first time at real-time frame rates and consumer prices.

At the heart of the VSA-100 is a new advanced 3D engine which enables extremely high fill rates. Sustaining high fill rate is critical to deliver real-time frame rates at high resolution, with significant depth complexity, digital effects and the highest visual quality. For the consumer market, products based on the VSA-100 deliver from 333 megatexels/megapixels per second up to 1.47 gigatexels/gigapixels per second fill rates using 16-128 MB of video memory and one to four processors per board. In the professional market, Quantum3D will manufacturer systems that will utilize eight to thirty-two VSA-100 processors and 128 MB to two gigabytes of video memory to attain fill rates greater than three gigatexels/gigapixels per second with their Heavy Metal GX+ family of AAlchemy family of visual computing systems.

The VSA-100, composed of over 14 million transistors, is fabricated in an enhanced .25 micron, 6-layer metal semiconductor process. The architecture incorporates industry standard 3D features including 32-bit RGBA rendering, 24-bit depth-buffer (Z and W), 8-bit stencil rendering, DXTC and FXT1 texture compression support, 32-bit textures, 2048x2048 texture size support, and advanced texture and color combine capabilities. Additional support is provided for both AGP 4x and PCI, DVD hardware assist, and the world's most powerful 128-bit 2D engine. All VSA-100-based products include support for all major APIs including DirectX, OpenGL and GLIDE providing the highest possible software compatibility. The VSA-100 is designed for optimal performance on current and future CPUs from Intel and AMD.

Perhaps most interesting to the Macintosh community is 3Dfx's renewed interest in OEM distribution. Mac gamers have been lobbying Apple for the option to have a Voodoo card as their based graphics card, along with the highly touted ATI Rage128 card currently shipping in all desktop Mac computers.

    "The VSA-100 processor enables the Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 product lines to substantially raise the performance and quality of 3D graphics on the PC," said Michael Howse, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at 3dfx Interactive, Inc. "By launching two product lines based on the VSA-100, 3dfx is able to offer a broad range of performance and price targets to both retail and OEM customers."

A reader of MacGamersLedge also spotted the following in a 3Dfx FAQ about the new cards:

Will the VSA-100 have Mac support?

With the VSA-100, we took into account many of the features for the Macintosh market. To date we have not announced a Mac-based product, however we have announced a PCI version of Voodoo4 and Voodoo5, which will work with 3dfx's Mac drivers.

Will 3dfx ever sell and support a Mac product?

The company has Mac drivers and PCI Voodoo products. We have not disclosed our Mac strategy.

How about SLI support for the Mac?

SLI is applicable to any platform including PCs, Mac and Linux.

All of this information bodes well to the gaming market, and it looks as if Mac users may not be left out in the cold this time. The new Voodoo 4 series cards, featuring a single processor and 32MB of RAM, will be available for approximately US$179 (actual price will vary based on memory prices). The Voodoo5 5x series will feature dual processors, and will start at US$229, while the top level Voodoo5 6000 AGP will feature 4 processors and 128MB of RAM. Users will pay for those features, however, as the expected price of the top model is US$599.99. You can find more information at the 3Dfx web site.

3Dfx Interactive

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