3dfx To Cease Making Their Own Cards, Voodoo (For Mac) Line Continues

In a move that wonit come as a huge surprise to many industry observers, 3dfx has announced that they will no longer make their own video cards. 3dfx began life as a company developing 3D technology that they licensed out to other manufacturers who made the actual end product. This included TechWorks who released the Power3D card, the first Voodoo product for the Mac. The companyis Voodoo2 line was also handled in the same manner, though very few Voodoo2 cards made it to the Mac.

When 3dfx announced the Voodoo3, shortly after their acquisition of board manufacturer STB, the company also announced that they would begin to make their own cards instead of licensing the technology to others. This is when the company also began to support the Mac for the first time with an extended series of beta drivers for the Voodoo3. The Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 line include Mac cards at the retail level.

The company has been facing difficulties in the market place in the face of intense competition from NVIDIA as well as the late delivery of the Voodooo 5 line. As NVIDIA has taken on an ever increasing share of the PC video market, 3dfx has found itself playing catch-up in a number of areas. Not least of these areas is public opinion on which is more important, frame rates or Full Screen Anti-Aliasing (FSAA). NVIDIA has gone the higher framerate path with their GeForce2 product line, while 3dfx chose to focus on FSAA with the Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 lines. PC gamers have, by and large, decided that framerate is a more important issue, and 3dfxis sales have suffered as a result.

What does this mean to Mac users? Nothing, hopefully. Conflicting ideas are being reported with CNNfn saying that the company would be selling its chips to other manufacturers:

The company says it will now sell its chips to third-party manufacturers, who will create the boards that go in computers. Because 3dfx is in its quiet period (its latest earnings are due next week), officials declined to say how much of a write off would result from the closing of the Mexican plant.

This implies that 3dfx would be following a similar model from their beginnings where companies would license the Voodoo name and technology. However, comments made to XLR8 Your Mac by 3dfx spokesperson Lisa Grubb paint a different picture:

Q. (Mike): Just wondering how this affects current and future mac products. (esp. current models)

A. (Lisa) Allow me to explain.

Our business strategy is changing. As I stated to Chris this morning, we are reinventing ourselves. We are shifting from an AIB manufacturer to a fabless chip and AIB model. In addition to ASIC sales, we will be outsourcing our board manufacturing retaining the Voodoo brand in the retail channel. The purpose is to lower costs and improve flexibility. We are implementing strict fiscal controls that will increase our profits and grow our bottom line.

Q. (Mike) does this mean any impacts [sic] on the mac products?

A. (Lisa) No.

This indicates fairly specifically that the company will simply be outsourcing production instead of producing their own boards. Considering the fact that the company is looking for as many sales as they get, it is not likely that the company will stop making Mac products.