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3dfx Drops Video Card Division

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the but-not-tossing-in-their-chips dept.

Graphics 147

Uglor writes: "3dfx is getting out of the video card market. After two years of shrinking revenue, stock price and market share, they are going back to a chips-only company. Will this let them reclaim the top spot on the 3d market? Or could this just make nVidia work twice as hard to beat them?" So it doesn't mean that you won't be able to buy a card whose guts are made by the 3dfx folks, only that the box will probably have someone else's name a whole lot bigger. And ewhac points to an Adrenaline Vault story, which "suggests that 3Dfx is going to move away from the PC hardware arena and refocus toward licensing their technology for use in visual simulation and training systems. If true, this would basically leave NVidia and ATI as the remaining major 3D graphics players. (Now if NVidia would just crack open their docs so we can support their chips...)"

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Re:Also... (1)

Dynastar454 (174232) | more than 13 years ago | (#623527)

Matrox....the G400MAX had so much promise...but the G450?? Dont make me laugh. There's still hope for them, but it seems hard to recover lost ground these days in the graphics industry.

Wow less choice in video cards real spiffy (1)

sips (212702) | more than 13 years ago | (#623528)

Boy just can't wait til someone like nvidia reigns supreme and linux support drops to nil. How is that supposed to be a good thing in the least.

STB + 3dfx = bad idea from the start (4)

DeadMeat (TM) (233768) | more than 13 years ago | (#623529)

3dfx learned a very difficult and expensive lesson with its purchase of STB: it's too easy to spread yourself too thin. As a chip manufacturer, 3Dfx only had to deal with designing the chips, manufacturing them, writing drivers, and selling the chips to manufacturers.

Once 3dfx decided to make its own video cards, it had to worry about technical support, more extensive marketing (actual product promotion, not just brand promotion), the manufacturing of the rest of the components, etc. It's very hard to do all of these and do a decent job of them. The once-nimble 3dfx fell behind nVidia in product release schedule, and many of the products it did released were far from polished enough (remember the shoddy quality of the first Voodoo 3 drivers?) to win over the very same gamers that once used Voodoo 2 SLI rigs religiously.

The only company to date that's pulled this off well is ATI, and they didn't exactly do it right overnight. The constant delays of the Rage 128 line cost ATI valuable market share, because in the time that ATI took to finally ship the Rage 128 nVidia had released the TNT2, which was superior to ATI's offering. Had ATI not needed to worry about actually manufacturing and supporting the video cards, it could have probably gotten the Rage 128 out on time, and ATI could have gotten a lot greater sales out of it. ATI only managed the minor coup that it pulled with Radeon because it has expanded greatly in the past year or so to be able to manufacture both chips and cards.

Incidentally, this is hardly the first failure of video-chip-manufacturers-turned-video-card-makers. S3 also suffered huge losses after buying Diamond Multimedia, with a large part of the blame lying in the decision to maufacture their own video cards, and they eventually had to sell their graphics chip business to Via. Of course, Diamond's infamously bad tech support and drivers probably helped destroy S3's video business just as much as the extra "dead weight" that video card manufacturing brought on, but then again S3 wouldn't have had to consider that if they just manufactured video chips and left the product support to somebody else.

On a lighter note, do you think they'll bring back the capital D in 3Dfx? :)

Re:What should I buy now that I can't get a V56K? (1)

yetisalmon (70744) | more than 13 years ago | (#623534)

I have a GeForce2 GTS and my card runs smooth as hell. Quake3, UT, Diablo or ANY other 3d game is easily handled but the GeForce. The drivers are very reliable and have often updates. I made my switch from a Voodoo 2 to a TNT2 last year and was very pleased. I immediately noticed higher frame rates and the eye candy was spectacular. I definately reccommend a GeForce2, it is a VERY good/reliable card.

Re:3dfx is NOT leaving the consumer market (1)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 13 years ago | (#623535)

I don't think anyone is saying that they are going back to add on boards, just that this is what they did in the past.

Sorry for being vague. (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 13 years ago | (#623537)

What I meant to say instead of giving my knee-jerk response =) was that you seem to be assuming Linux==GNU (or at least your last sentence seems to imply that.) This is not the case.

Linux is a kernel, and systems are built around this kernel. These systems typically have a full suite of GNU software around them. Because RMS felt that he and the rest of the GNU project weren't getting due credit, he proposed the name "GNU/Linux" as the "more proper" way of referring to a Linux distribution. Unfortunately (perhaps this is what was intended) some people take this to mean that Linux==GNU. Linux is not part of the GNU project, and while I don't know why not, I would say it is due to sentiments expressed in your comment. The larger Linux community simply wants a more reliable, stable, secure OS than what commercial vendors offer. The larger community doesn't mind the occasional proprietary program (I'd like to see Photoshop and QuarkXPress ported...and if you reply mentioning The GIMP you get no points from me) and welcome any addition to the Linux fold provided it violates no licensing agreements.

If you don't want to see companies like NVIDIA doing this sort of thing, tell them in a way they'll understand: vote with your money (buy from Free Software-friendly vendors.) But do NOT imply that Linux is somehow GNU. HURD is GNU. Linux is not. The larger community will kindly thank you to not coerce the masses into believing that Linux is GNU by using deceptive naming practices.

This may not be a bad thing. (1)

spackle99 (254462) | more than 13 years ago | (#623540)

The V5-6000 might still make it to the retail channel - granted by the time it gets out, it may be a generation behind but what i read about it - 60+ FPS at 1600x1200 in Q3 with FSAA ! Not too shabby at all. Also this will help out their time to market considerably...the past two or three years they had to come up with the chips, and troubleshoot production, a huge task for a company that small.
This might just save them, if the card makers will go back with them (which i think they will, anything to make a buck!)

V5 6000 Dead! (1)

3Suns (250606) | more than 13 years ago | (#623543)

Bear in mind that the V5 6000 was going to be TWICE as powerful as the 5500, with twice the RAM and 2 processors. That's one reason, it might have beaten out NVidia via brute force. Interestingly, the 6000 has disappeared from 3Dfx's site w/out a trace... and it's $600 price tag.

T-Buffer is also very cool, but I haven't heard of anything that really uses it.

Re:Also... (1)

FunOne (45947) | more than 13 years ago | (#623545)

A new contender could overthrow the big boys EASIER with DirectCrap/OpenGL. (Yes, I have a perference)

Because the interface is standard, games dont care if you run a 3dfx or nVidia chip, just that it runs OpenGL. A new guy can come in with a new way to render x, or compute y, and (of course) speed everything up with better quality and compete because people aren't locked into a proprietary API (Glide).

Besides, a new guy doesn't need his own chip fab, nVidia doesn't even fab their own chips, you just need a design and some VC.

Re:This may be a small point, (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 13 years ago | (#623546)

Come to think of it, when I grabbed my Voodoo3, I didn't see the word "Linux" on it. =/

Re:Hell, Nvidia tried to by 3DFX... (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 13 years ago | (#623547)

>They lost their OEM sales to Nvidia and ATI

As far as I know, 3dfx never had gained any real OEM sales, so, they lost nothing.

Re:Not surprising... (1)

Grahf666 (118413) | more than 13 years ago | (#623548)

2 types of people:
either Mac users who didn't want to wait for ATI to make a Mac Radeon, or were fed up with ATI's generally asshole-ish treatment of the mac market, and bought one last summer...

Or people who thought that FSAA in hardware was more important than hardware T&L, and bought one before Nvidia/ATI put software FSAA into their drivers.

Now, there's pretty much no reason, though the Voodoo 4 4500 PCI is a pretty good Mac budget card. (on the PC end, the GeForce 2 MX smacks it down)

Hell, Nvidia tried to by 3DFX... (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 13 years ago | (#623549)

3DFX has been dying for some time now. They lost their OEM sales to Nvidia and ATI. No longer selling chips to vendors was the biggest mistake. Everyone knew it.
Nvidia licenses their chips to everyone under the sun. They are taking over the mobile market with the low power geforce mx from ATI. They took the PCI market from 3DFX/ATI with the PCI version of the Geforce. Thier boards have worked flawlessly in dual monitor setups for years. Xbox will use a Nvidia chip. You can buy dozens Geforce Cards from vendors, but you can only buy 1 brand of 3dfx boards...
I'll never understand, when they owned the market, why the hell they stopped selling chips to video card manufactures vendors.

What about... (1)

jerky (22019) | more than 13 years ago | (#623550)

...that euro company, Bitboys? Aren't they designing some wonder graphics chip?

OK, I'm just asking this because I love saying their name... (Bitboys OY!)

What the???? (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 13 years ago | (#623551)

IIRC, Didn't 3dfx recently merge with/buyout STB and their entire line of card manufacturing?

Seems really odd to ditch the card manufacturing business after acquiring a card manufacturer

And yet no real documentation (1)

sips (212702) | more than 13 years ago | (#623552)

I trust a company to provide proper support for an infinite ammount of time for linux about as much as I expect pigs to fly.

Re:3dfx might just be in for a surprise (1)

bpd1069 (57573) | more than 13 years ago | (#623555)

what ever you say QUAKEBOY!

Re:oh this is just wonderful (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 13 years ago | (#623557)

Yeah well be thankful that you don't have a card from ixMicro. They dropped off the map about a year ago and I'm never going to get an update for the drivers for my video card.

Wait a sec... (2)

cbwsdot (212913) | more than 13 years ago | (#623560)

Don't count out the Bitboys [] ! They'll be making waves Real Soon Now(tm).


Re:STB + 3dfx = bad idea from the start (1)

DeadMeat (TM) (233768) | more than 13 years ago | (#623561)

I was speaking hypothetically about ATI not manufacturing their own video cards; I didn't actually expect them to change their business plans. The Rage 128, like the Radeon, was an excellent product at its annoucement, but the time between its unveiling and its actual release was so great that the products it was trying to beat were already supplanted by a newer, faster generation of chips. ATI aimed for the hardcore gamer market but missed, because what would have top-of-the-line had it been released on time was behind nVidia's latest offering by the time it was actually released.

The fact that the Radeon was a large success with the hardcore gamer market owes a lot to the fact that it was delivered on time, which in turn owes a lot to ATI's expansion. Without the extra fabs, engineers, techs, etc., ATI would probably have had to push the release date much further back, which means they would have to face much hotter technology.

I'm certainly not suggesting that ATI's business model isn't sound. I've used a lot of ATI products in many of my computers (especially the cheaper ones) since the mid 90's, and I'm pleased with the results, although admittedly I still would probably prefer a GeForce 2 card over a Radeon card. I was pointing out that ATI was one of the few companies where their strategy did work, which owes a lot to their size and expertise in the field. You can't expect any old chip manufacturer like S3 or 3dfx to duplicate ATI's success by suddenly turning into a full-fledged card manufacturers. These companies succeeded in making 3D chips because of their nimbleness, and suddenly strapping on a manufacturing division crippled them when they found out that they simply didn't have the resources to spread around.

Not surprising... (1)

Deluge (94014) | more than 13 years ago | (#623563)

Who in their right mind would actually buy the V4/5's? They were ridiculously overpriced and didn't offer anything (in fact, offered less) than Nvidia's offerings. I have an old V2 8meg which I'm happy with, but I'd never have touched anything since then.


Re:Not surprising... (1)

/dev/urandom (167536) | more than 13 years ago | (#623564)

Yeah, I had a Creative Labs card that had a 3Dfx Banshee chipset, and it worked great. But when I got a Voodoo 5, made by 3Dfx of course, it was a major disappointment. I sent it back and got a GeForce 2 MX, which I've been much happier with.

3Dfx had no competition when it came to the V4 and V5 setups, so they could make relatively shoddy products and (try to) charge whatever price they felt like. But you know, I paid $300 for that Voodoo 5, and when a low-end $100 Nvidia-powered card can perform infinitely better, that doesn't say much for 3Dfx's abilities as a video board maker.

I'm glad they're going back to the way things were, and staying out of the business of monopolizing board designs based on their chipset. Still, I'm not sure I'll buy from 3Dfx in the foreseeable future anyway. I had a lot of confidence in them before they became the only source for 3Dfx-based boards, and I lost much of it in my recent experiences with them.

Now if Nvidia would just open up their drivers, I would be totally happy... ;-)
Anything that can go wr

My Voodoo 4.... (1)

PiterPan (235179) | more than 13 years ago | (#623566)

Guess what I'm doing right now, while reading this beautiful story ?
I'm actually compiling 3dfx's release of XFree86 with Voodoo4/5 support built in...
Coincidence ? Maybe...
And maybe I should have bought Nvidia or something.... But then there would be nothing to compile.... Technology/choice/life is tough :) But it seems people like it anyway...


Thank god for what? (1)

SanLouBlues (245548) | more than 13 years ago | (#623567)

They better get it together quick if they want anybody to use their chipsets. I can't see any good reson for it. Thank god for the free market! They'll be a company without customers. Oh wait a TV card branchout will save them!

great.... (4)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 13 years ago | (#623568)

this is exactly what i was looking for in a graphics maker. I stood by 3dfx before...and now i'll stand by them again as i try to get support for some card made by X company with a 3dfx chipset in it.

3dfx: "Um...we don't support linux, talk to the vendor, they should have updated drivers"

Vendor:"Um...we don't support linux, talk to 3dfx, they should have updated drivers"

while (times_talked_to_companies < sanity_threshold){

After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network

Re:great.... (1)

bartok (111886) | more than 13 years ago | (#623569)

Is this an attempt at trolling or something? 3dfx has been supporting linux way before it bought STB. Get your facts straight before you post trash like this.

This may be a small point, (1)

jaysones (138378) | more than 13 years ago | (#623570)

but this is very disappointing to the Mac community, who recently got strong support from 3DFX. Their card performance has been worse than expected lately, but the more choices, the better. OTOH, this could be a good thing, allowing 3DFX to concentrate strictly on chip design, and letting 3rd parties spread that technology around the platforms.

Prescience (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 13 years ago | (#623571)


I've been saying that this was an idiotic move, almost from the start. And 3dfx's descent into the financial sub-basement has pretty much borne my predictions out.

They basically figured that if they held a vertical monopoly with their chips/cards, they could dictate advances to the industry. Luckily, the industry told them exactly where they could stick those notions.

So. 3dfx has dropped some of that dead weight (namely STB's manufacturing facilities). Now, after they go crawling back to the cardmakers and OEMs on their hands and knees, they can get back to what they USED TO DO so well. Designing killer 3d chipsets.

But they better hope like hell that this 2-year-long debacle of theirs hasn't permanently damaged their chances of shouldering back into the competitive market. And if they maintain the same, arrogant "we know what you "need" attitude, they're going to need to eat a LOT of boot-polish before anyone will touch their wares.

Chas - The one, the only.

oh this is just wonderful (2)

British (51765) | more than 13 years ago | (#623572)

Now I'll NEVER get a driver update for my ailing STB TV card.

We need Captain Open Source!(seriously, I'm not being sarcastic about it this time)

Re:From a Linux point of view, this is sad (1)

krogoth (134320) | more than 13 years ago | (#623573)

3DFx probably thought someone would optimize or rewrite the drivers for them if they were open source.

Re:Wow less choice in video cards real spiffy (1)

sirinek (41507) | more than 13 years ago | (#623574)

Please. nVidia is not going to drop their support for linux. I am *very* happy with my Geforce2 GTS, a world better than the Voodoo3 my roommate has. And from everything I've heard on here, the 4/5 arent much better.

3dfx's exit as a video card manufacturer will not be a bad thing, hopefully it will get them in gear and make better chips.


Re:This may be a small point, (1)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 13 years ago | (#623575)

this is very disappointing to the Mac community, who recently got strong support from 3DFX.

Strong support? No VooDoo box I ever saw said the word 'Macintosh' on it. How would 'Joe Average' consumer know that they could put one in their Mac? They never released anything but beta drivers ("It's beta, so we don't have to support it".)

Not very impressive support, IMHO.


Re:Mixed Feelings (2)

Hadean (32319) | more than 13 years ago | (#623576)

Thing is, the Voodoo 2 was made in the day when the licensed their chips - which is what they're going back to. They started to make their own cards with the Voodoo 3, and couldn't handle the competition from that point on... I think going back to the old way is a good idea - then we might actually see some good stuff from them again (since they can focus on what they're good at!)

Re:What's a deltic? (1)

Donut2099 (153459) | more than 13 years ago | (#623578)

I think it's just something he misspelled. We may never know what a deltic is. Dyslexic is more likely.

Re:STB + 3dfx = bad idea from the start (1)

Change (101897) | more than 13 years ago | (#623579)

> 3dfx learned a very difficult and expensive lesson with its purchase of STB

Now that they're not planning on making their own cards anymore (which is the reason they purchased STB in the first place), does anyone know what is to become of the division that was STB?

Re:Thanks for sharing! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#623581)


If your box boots afterward, you aren't running GNU/Linux. But you probably are, so don't do this or you'll be hosed.

(Yeah, it'd probably nuke /bin/rm before it finishes, but this makes the point without being too hairy.)

Re:What the???? (1)

Frac (27516) | more than 13 years ago | (#623582)

IIRC, Didn't 3dfx recently merge with/buyout STB and their entire line of card manufacturing?

Umm.. as recent as the year 1998 is to you.

Re:great.... (2)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 13 years ago | (#623583)

no, i'm well aware of the linux support provided by 3dfx. I'm telling you now that it's not very good. Precision Insight does most of the work for XFree86. is down quite frequently, and when it's up, the drivers leave alot to be desired. So they support OpenGL, woopty shit. there should have been a Glide2 wrapper for their DRI drivers AGES ago. Instead, upon open-sourcing glide, 3dfx pretty much dumped the whole fsckin' thing.

3dfx is pretty much saying "welp, you can have OpenGL or Glide, but you can't have both at once" - that, to me, is not very good support. When they knock off this fractional support trend they've got going on, i'll change my view.

After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network

Back to square one (1)

eLDeR_MMHS (237991) | more than 13 years ago | (#623584)

Maybe I'm looking at it from a narrow perspective, but I never understood why 3Dfx had to be so aggressive in their marketing. They were doing just fine with being a chip-only manufacturer and distributing them to 3rd party companies.

Well, at least they can admit to mistakes. Now they have to start reaping in the money again... $4 3Dfx stocks don't sound too hot. :p

Re:Also... (1)

N8Magic (196335) | more than 13 years ago | (#623585)

Dont forget about the BitBoys oy! and their Xtreme Bandwidth Architecture... (lame lame LAME vaporware)

Not beta anymore (1)

jaysones (138378) | more than 13 years ago | (#623586)

Actually, what I wrote was that they "recently" started the strong support. The drivers for the Voodoo3 series never came out of beta for the Mac, but the Voodoo4 & 5 series drivers are both official and actively updated. The drivers aren't that perfect, but they're supposed to be better than the 3 series, and certainly better than no support at all. Also, they do have Mac-branded boxes. I imagine you never saw one because you weren't in the market for one. They have them at CompUSA, even.

Sucks (2)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#623587)

I always really liked 3DFX's self-made boards. They ran well, if albeit a little hot, but performed superbly in most games.

Hopefully Creative takes up the bulk of the slack.

At least 3Dfx do PCI versions. (1)

Ella the Cat (133841) | more than 13 years ago | (#623592)

If you want a 2nd video card, or your platform doesn't do AGP at all, a PCI graphics card comes in handy. With some on-board memory, the PCI bandwidth isn't necessarily a bottleneck. If only I could find a GeForce or Kyro with PCI. At least 3Dfx do^H^H did PCI versions

If anyone who actually designs these things is listening, I understand that the same chip is used on PCI and AGP boards. Are there any modern AGP graphics chips that can support PCI with a pin strap or a register setting? Building a board isn't the issue for me

oops, one other thing (1)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 13 years ago | (#623593)

where's the linux support for my V3 3500?

last time i checked i had a big blue tether coming out of it that was setup for video fratures such as s-video out/in, cable out/in, and the same with RCA connections. Nope, 3dfx doesn't support the TV feature in linux. If i want that, i've got to use a beta kernel with alpha quality TV drivers.

hooray for 3dfx.

After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network

This is NOT entirely true. (2)

Freud (5279) | more than 13 years ago | (#623595)

This story is not completely true. They are NOT leaving the card business, the only thing that they will do is outsource the making of the cards. The brand 3dfx will remain on the boxes, and it will be their cards. They won't go back to just selling chips. The following comes from Alf, a guy working for 3dfx:

"I can confirm elements of it that are already public knowledge, but I can also say that there will still be 3dfx brand video cards, which this article seems to say is not the case. I'm looking into it. Thanks for the heads up!

So, basically, they will keep their boards, however, the rumours right now are that they might sell some chips just for OEM deals.

Re:3dfx's demise: a self-inflicted wound (2)

Temporal (96070) | more than 13 years ago | (#623597)

As I recall... When the Voodoo 3 (and before it, the Banshee) came out, there was a question in their FAQ's about texture size. It went something like this:

Q: With all of your competitors supporting 2kx2k textures, don't you think the 256x256 limit of the [Voodoo 3 or Bashee] will cause problems?

A: Because we are the market leaders in 3D graphics hardware, game designers are designing their games to work on our hardware. That means that they will not put textures larger than 256x256 in their games because if they did then their game would not work on 3dfx cards. So, supporting larger textures is unnecessary.

That was my first clue that 3dfx was dying (I was a fan of theirs back then). Of course, they removed this question and answer from the FAQ after a short time, and you won't find any trace of it today.


Ancient TNT owner (1)

Belgarion (11586) | more than 13 years ago | (#623598)

My Viper 550 is still running all the latest gamez fine with my P2-504.

Takes a bit of OC-ing to get the card doing 44 fps in UnrealTournament at 1024x768x16 though.

Why aren't these old cards for sale anymore? I'd be happy to upgrade to a TNT2 for $20 or so...

On-Board 3dfx (1)

dezwart (113598) | more than 13 years ago | (#623599)

Because of the backing off of 3dfx from the card market we may see on-board 3dfx chips.

Re:But will third parties take them back? (1)

PSargent (188923) | more than 13 years ago | (#623600)

They'll have problems getting back in, but the market is ready for them.

nVidia is the only 3D company selling chips to the board companies (Asus, Guilemot, Creative, etc) and they don't like having no other option.

nVidia are almost getting contracts with the board manufacturer by default at the moment. Creative (for example) must have a graphics board product so they have to go for nVidia, regardless of the terms that nVidia impose on them. As soon as 3Dfx come back, then Creative can say F*** O** to nVidia if the deal is not to their liking.

Remember, it's not just the quality of the products that gets the contracts, it's a whole load of other things including politics.

Indirect Selling (1)

nigelb0 (234670) | more than 13 years ago | (#623601)

I can understand 3Dfx's anxiety to get their product to market in the style and manner they want it. Things can get distorted/diluted when you sell indirectly.

3Dfx and many others must sometimes see it as a real headache advertising their products directly, but actually selling indirectly.

Name Change....Go back? (2)

Accipiter (8228) | more than 13 years ago | (#623602)

One thing I noticed about many of the comments, is referring to them as "3DFX".

When they got out of the Chip-Only business and started making video cards, they changed their name from "3DFX" to "3dfx" (No Joke.) Now that they're going BACK to the chip-only business, are they going to change back to "3DFX" and get a spiffy NEW logo? They're changing their market, so I can almost bet they'll change their logo again. I guess we'll see.

-- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

Re:oh this is just wonderful (1)

Tripster (23407) | more than 13 years ago | (#623603)

Man I hear ya there, I've got one branded with 3dfx all over it still wrapped in the shrink wrap after I realized they don't work worth a damn under Linux and there's no damn Win2k drivers for them either. What a waste! At least I ended up getting 2 for the price of 1 due to some outfits pathetic shipping department, and $50 off to boot! :)

I ended up buying a Hauppauge WinTV and it works just dandy in most OSes, even BeOS picked that up first crack.

Re:Not surprising... (1)

atrowe (209484) | more than 13 years ago | (#623604)

Who in their right mind would actually buy the V4/5's?

Some of us out there are able to look past flashy framerates and actually care about the quality of our gameplay. I personally own a Voodoo 5 5500 and a GeForce 2 GTS. Both of these cards allow me to play any game at a reasonable framerate (60+fps) at a reasonable resolution (1280x1024). My monitor, along with most other monitors in the world, has a maximum refresh rate around 85 Hz. In fact, the only way I can tell the difference between the framerates of the two is to run a benchmark that posts the FPS onscreen.

The one factor that puts 3dfx ahead of it's competitors is the stunning visual quality their cards can put forth. Even without FSAA, the inherent superiority of 3dfx's alpha blending and lightsourcing makes for a more visually pleasing gaming experience. If you've never seen a V5 or V6 in action, don't be so quick to put it down!

Great News (2)

bug1 (96678) | more than 13 years ago | (#623605)

This simply means that there will more competition between 3dfx card vendors, which will result in a lower priced 3dfx which will be able to compete better agianst the evil^H^H^H^H heavily proprietry Nvidia.

Im sure this will lead to 3dfx becoming a stronger company.

What should I buy now that I can't get a V56K? (1)

Lord_Sloth (101482) | more than 13 years ago | (#623606)

Grrr, I had saved up for a V56K and I was going to grab it as soon as it was available, but now I can't get one what should I get? I have a Voodoo 3 2000, and I have found the drivers very reliable, but having seen some dodgy driver issues with TNT2s I am reluctant to switch to a different card even though I want 32bit color, does anyone know how stable he GeForce2 drivers are, and will all my major games work well with the GeForce2? (Quake 3, counterstrike, Diablo2, Unreal Tournament and Ultima 9)

3dfx's drivers (2)

linuxgod (17683) | more than 13 years ago | (#623607)

Well, the only thing I see good about 3dfx is the fact that their drivers are open source,
unlike Nvidia. I own a V3 3000, and havn't had any problems with it, and don't care
for getting a larger card untill games start requiring it. With 120 max fps in q3 on a V3,
im not complaining.


Re:V5 6000 Dead! (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 13 years ago | (#623608)

Twice the ram means absolutely *nothing* when it comes to the VSA-100 chips. It's not a shared memory pool. Each video chip gets its own bank of memory. So, a 4 chip board with 2x memory as a 2 chip board still has the same effective memory size.

The V5 6000 was a 128MB monster that was really only a 32MB board. Each of the 4 chips got 1/4 of the available memory and there was no sharing. Each chip had to get all of the textures it needed. Each chip had to get all of the triangles it needed. It was/is a very inefficient design.

Everyone should start doing this (2) (81360) | more than 13 years ago | (#623616)

3dfx has done some good things, and created an API that is still in use by many games today. Granted, it wasn't the best API, but it was the first one to really push the limits. Congrats to them for that.

But they've learned their lesson.

3dfx did some cool stuff with glide. And I thought there'd be no stopping them when they started licensing their chipset. I remember my buddy having a couple of Creative Voodoo's running SLI, and the games just flew. The minute I saw 3dfx decide they were going to do it themselves, I was pretty disapointed.

Hopefully they'll learn from their mistake and realize they can't take on the world by themselves. Nvidia realized that, and cards with their chipsets are the fastest you can buy. Then we'll see some serious competition, as we haven't really seen any for a while. It'll only benefit the consumer.

Now if we could just convince ATI to do the same thing....:-)


3dfx might just be in for a surprise (2)

karld (141289) | more than 13 years ago | (#623617)

when they try to contact their old chip customers. I used to work for a major player back when we were using 3dfx chips for our video cards. When 3dfx decided to have a go at the video card market by themselves, they really pissed us off. Knowing our CEO, there is very little chance of those guys coming back to become a chip supplier again. Looks like their only chance is to line up some taiwanese card makers and hope to compete on price alone. How that will improve their margin model I fail to see. Anyway, my $0.02 worth.

Re:Is this a sound move? (1)

thegrommit (13025) | more than 13 years ago | (#623618)

That report doesn't smell right.

3dfx managed to alienate their one-time partners with the purchase of 3dfx. Considering that Creative own a chunk of Nvidia, I find it hard to believe they will be manufacturing Voodoo boards anytime soon.

Yes, there are other manufacturers, but all the big boys are currently making plenty of money off Nvidia.

Now they might *subcontract* board manufacture, but still sell the boards as 3dfx/stb...

Re:3dfx is NOT leaving the consumer market (2)

tjackson (50499) | more than 13 years ago | (#623619)

Quantum3D did make those Voodoo2 SLI boards, but they stopped selling them. Go to their website. Find anything that fits in a PCI or AGP slot. You will not find it!

Quantum3D pulled out of this market before 3dfx did.

Re:Also... (2)

teg (97890) | more than 13 years ago | (#623620)

The Matrox G450 is a nice card for big markets, who care much about razor sharp and fast 2D - with 3D being much less of an issue. And the business market is probably bigger than the "need to have the fastest 3D card out there" market.

I'm in the market for a new machine, but holding out for new technologies (DDR SDRAM, PIV, new Athlon core) - and I really hope Matrox releases a new card with faster 3D before then. It doesn't have to be just as fast (the difference between 110 fps and 100 fps in QuakeIII is not important to me), just fast enough and with the Matrox tradition of great, sharp images.

Re:Is this a sound move? (1)

thegrommit (13025) | more than 13 years ago | (#623621)

I of course meant "with the purchase of STB"

Re:Also... (2)

maraist (68387) | more than 13 years ago | (#623622)

You're missing the point.

Competition is GOOD.. Winners that gain a monopoly in the 3D video card industry is BAAD.

ATI and nVida should be good competition with each other for a while. Both making state-of-the art cards (at almost the complete price range), but once one of them goes... That's about it..

The time to enter the video card market ended with nVida, who stepped up the competition until the then king couldn't compete. With the world consolidating towards DirectX and, on occasion, OpenGL, you can't depend on your proprietary drivers (a la Glide, and many other's that I've already forgotten). Most likely, the only way you can make a faster, more cost effective card is through propriety drivers (such as the failed infinite plains card (forgot the name of that too)).

Couple that with the fact that GPU's are now as (if not more) complex as CPU's, in addition to using state-of-the-art manufacturing, it's highly unlikely that a new contender can possibly dethrown the existing big boys.

In fact, the only thing I can image you could add is move the whole damn game into the GPU (a la MicroSoft's DirectGame or Direct3DShooter... ).

ASICs wired video games as the future?


Re:Also... (2)

maraist (68387) | more than 13 years ago | (#623623)

Matrox has never been able to keep up in the 3D market.. They've primarily been a professional 2D card company. I don't think they've ever topped the 3D charts (though you can put 1600x1600 monitors on them without a sweat).

They were innovative with their environmental bump mapping, and for a while there, they'd produce the cleanest pictures, but apparently this isnt' the case with their latest cards, and ATI (at least) has already caught up with them in the quality realm.


Re:Not surprising... (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 13 years ago | (#623624)

"either Mac users who didn't want to wait for ATI to make a Mac Radeon" ATI was ready to release the Mac Radeon long before they did. Apple refused to use it for an extended period to punish ATI for leaking information. "Or people who thought that FSAA in hardware was more important than hardware T&L, and bought one before Nvidia/ATI put software FSAA into their drivers. " NVidia had FSAA running before the GeForce 2 shipped, not to mention before the Voodoo 4/5, and it runs in hardware, on the card, not in software.

Re:DOH! No more Decent PCI 3D graphices cards??? (1)

ogre2112 (134836) | more than 13 years ago | (#623625)

That'll teach you to buy an obsolete motherboard, now won't it?

From a Linux point of view, this is sad (2)

Thagg (9904) | more than 13 years ago | (#623626)

3DFX has always been in the forefront of 3D on Linux. From the Glide full-screen OpenGL to being among the first and best cards supported by the Precision Insight/XFree86 DRI.

It's really a shame to see somebody who cast their lot with the Linux 'market', and then lost. 3DFX has always been relatively forthcoming with the technical data needed to build drivers; in a way that n***** isn't.

Perhaps it just wasn't yet time.


total IP solution (1)

johnjones (14274) | more than 13 years ago | (#623627)

3dfx have tried to come up with a solution that meets the modern type of IP company they have pipelined there whole solution so you can chouse to licence part, differant parts orall of their IP opinion>>>I think that they dont have the solution because it is not tile based althoughthey have done some mergers ! see what bites them in the bottom in terms of mergers willbe fun ! regards john jones
(a deltic so please dont moan about spelling but the content)

Is this a sound move? (2)

BenBenBen (249969) | more than 13 years ago | (#623628)

Before everyone gets on their high horse (oops... too late), is this really a sound business move? It took them long enough tom overcome all the shoddy off-brand products that came with their name on in the first place, and now they want to start over again?

Maybe I'm missing the point, but although they seem to be producing a load of crap recently, at least it was crap with 3DFX!!! written across it. Oh well, wait and see I s'pose. But, it seems to be pretty unprecedented.

Ben^3 Proud owner of a V3500

Re:great.... (4)

atrowe (209484) | more than 13 years ago | (#623629)

Actually, 3Dfx does support Linux. You can download Linux drivers for all 3dfx chipsets here []

Also... (4)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 13 years ago | (#623632)

If true, this would basically leave NVidia and ATI as the remaining major 3D graphics players.

Not to toot my former employer's horn, but don't count Matrox out!

Re:great.... (2)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 13 years ago | (#623634)

actually, you can just go to []

but the support leaves alot to be desired and i'm all but certain they'll be dumping this soon after they get back into the "chip" making business.

After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network

All that the article is saying... (1)

moath (151844) | more than 13 years ago | (#623636)

All that this article is saying is that 3Dfx is abandoning their in-house production of the PCB (Printed Circut Boards). They won't stop tailoring to the retail market like ATI or NVidia, but they will just start selling the chips to companies like Gullimont and Asus.

Re:Also... (1)

MassacrE (763) | more than 13 years ago | (#623640)

actually, neither of those were real words :)

3Dfx softie (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 13 years ago | (#623641)

I really hate to see 3Dfx dying. Man, 2 years ago I about shat my pants from watching Quake 2 run at 60FPS at 1024x768 no problem on a VooDoo2 SLI setup. All 3Dfx needs is a good chipset (V5 is a waste) to bring them back from the dead. If they don't, R.I.P., 3Dfx.

Re:3dfx is NOT leaving the consumer market (2)

maraist (68387) | more than 13 years ago | (#623642)

3Dfx burned a lot of bridges when they left the OEM market.. I'm sure they'll get back in, but they've lost much of their clout.. They're going to have to make a top notch card for people to promote 3Dfx over nVida.

Additionally, I don't think _anyone_ wants to go back to the add-on-card market.. With resolutions reaching 1600x1600, those pass-through cards are simply not acceptible. Back in the days of 1024x768 at 16bit color (in SLI mode), you could always put two monitors on your computer (since you obviously had money to burn).

Additionally, the only reason people went add-on card was because there was no all-in-one solution that could even compete.

It would be an extremely hard sell to say the least.. Though you might find a market back in the 200MHZ legacy computer market (with a full blown GPU).

Another SERIOUS issue is AGP.. Can't do SLI with AGP (unless you're Obsidian and obsessed), and you definately can't be an add on card and use AGP.

I realize you only meant this as a "worst case", but I wanted to debunk it as being profitable for them.


3dfx's demise: a self-inflicted wound (3)

emmons (94632) | more than 13 years ago | (#623643)

3dfx didn't just get mercilessly ripped apart by nVidia like everyone believes, they let it happen. When the TNT2, supposedly the first consumer chip faster than Voodoo2 SLI, came out, sporting 32-bit color, support for over 32 megs of video ram and 2048x2048 pixel textures, 3dfx countered months later with the Voodoo3, which had the 16-bit color and 16-megs of ram limitation of the Voodoo2. That was really the first nail in the coffin of 3dfx. Their relase schedule can also be blamed, because nVidia has a new chip out every year or so, and sells (now sold) them to many different board manufacturers, causing competition. 3dfx makes their own boards, just like ATI.

How is it that, in January, one could buy a dang-fast TNT2 for $60, while the Voodoo2, a slower card, sold for over $100 everywhere? Simple - the different board manufacturers compete with each other, trying to sell their TNT2 board over somebody else's. The 3dfx board manufacturer just tries to sell their boards to Voodoo zealots, who are, for the most part, GeForce believers now.

Hopefully now that 3dfx has decided to go back to being a chip manufacturer, coupled with a shorter release interval (which it looks like they're trying to do), they'll start making some headway into the market. I love nVidia to death, but competition is always good.

Re:3dfx Unannounced Card... (1)

ogre2112 (134836) | more than 13 years ago | (#623644)

Hmm.. Might need a heatsink there...


Re:Not surprising... (1)

ranessin (205172) | more than 13 years ago | (#623645)

I have both a TNT2 and a V5500... Although the 5500 gives me noticably higher framerates than the TNT2, there is no doubt in my mind that under Linux the TNT2 looks and feels considerably smoother than the V5500 (although this might change as soon as the drivers support FSAA and the dual VSA-100s).

I also have a GeForce2 MX on the way... I'll be interested in seeing how the cards stack up.


Re:great.... (1)

jkain (94242) | more than 13 years ago | (#623646)

I don't think we'll be dropping Linux support.

Re:3dfx is NOT leaving the consumer market (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 13 years ago | (#623647)

"And by the way, Quantum 3D had a kick-ass SLI product on store shelves then, too."

Actually, that Quantum board was pretty crappy. It was designed to combine two Voodoo 2s into a single card, but design flaws resulted in mediocre framrates compared to using two Voodoo 2s, which had become a cheaper solution by the time the Quantum board shipped. Sales were horrible, and the card was pulled off the market.

Re:Sucks (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 13 years ago | (#623648)

"Hopefully Creative takes up the bulk of the slack"

Unlikely, given that 3DFX royally pissed off 3DFX when they pulled the Voodoo license from creative after 3DFX decided to make their own cards. Creative lost a ton of money because of that, and has since bought up a huge chunk of Nvidia.

Thanks for sharing! (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 13 years ago | (#623649)

Good thing I don't use a GNU/Linux system, huh. =)

XFree != GNU

I use Linux--the Linux world is much more accepting of alternative solutions (i.e. non-GNU.) Having said that, I don't buy hardware that isn't documented if I don't have to. =)

Mixed Feelings (2)

fatguy64 (156221) | more than 13 years ago | (#623650)

While I know that they have been beaten out by nVidia lately and are making over-priced & under-performing cards, I can't help feel a little sadness over this loss. Like them or not, 3dfx did play a large role in pushing the limits of consumer video cards a while back and probably inspired much of the competition leading to the foundation of the major card companies today. Perhaps it's just nostalgia left over from the time I drooled over the Voodoo 2s, but I think 3dfx should be given some appreciation for the work they did in the past. Don't get me wrong- I love my GeForce 2 :P. I just think they deserve some praise/credit. Am I totally wrong?

But will third parties take them back? (3)

Ryokurin (74729) | more than 13 years ago | (#623651)

I for one remember that when they decided to make their own card exclusively, they basically screwed companies such as Creative, Diamond, Hercules, and others that were expecting to create voodoo3 cards.

Whats not saying that they will not decide to make cards themselves again when they are doing better. But then again, didn't they say that when they were initally annoucing their entry into the Dist business, it was to boost revenues?

I wish them all the luck, but its going to be hard for them to win third parties back.

Re:From a Linux point of view, this is sad (1)

Torak- (198078) | more than 13 years ago | (#623652)

That's true, what with 3dfx's drivers being open source etc., but nVidia's drivers are *better*. In some resolutions in Linux providing up to 99% of the framerate you get under Windows...whereas 3dfx's drivers give all round poor performance (this is supported my the numbers, not just my opinion).

Sure, they're open source, but when you're not getting the performance out of the card you paid for, what's the point?

3dfx is NOT leaving the consumer market (5)

derinax (93566) | more than 13 years ago | (#623653)

The second point by ewhac [] is a misreading of the AVault [] blurb on the cancellation of the V5-6000. Quantum 3D [] is a long-standing partner of 3dfx who has for years used their existing chips in visual simulation and training systems. That's what's so cool about scaleable hardware for the consumer.

3dfx has never suggested in any forum that they will leave the PC market. Why would they? At worst what we're seeing is a return to the Voodoo 2 strategy: a successful one, before they took too much upon themselves. And by the way, Quantum 3D had a kick-ass SLI product on store shelves then, too.

Derina X. Pinchfish

Re:Not surprising... (1)

giberti (110903) | more than 13 years ago | (#623654)

I actually bought my v5 5500 because it will be supported quickly under linux and is well supported in windoz already.

My ATI card which was 3 years old (gasp) just started working well in linux in the last year.

Re:Now, about those lawyers... (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 13 years ago | (#623658)

Glide was released as Open Source. Write your own driver and skip the wrapper entirely.

Re:STB + 3dfx = bad idea from the start (2)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 13 years ago | (#623660)

The STB buyout kinda left me in the dark. I had just bought a STB TNT card and this was right before they decided to release OpenGL drivers for the card itself (DOH). Then they got bought out and with about 4 days worth of long distance phone calls I decided to give up and look into buying a new card. Then Low-And-Behold. nVidia came through with the Detonator drivers ... AND ... released XFree86 drivers as well ... my dreams of QuakeIII could again become a reality.

But that buyout made me swear to never buy 3dfx products no matter what. So my latest laptop came complete with an ATI card and my upgrade ... yep GeForce chipset :-)

Re:What about... (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 13 years ago | (#623662)

It's almost December. That means it's just about time for the BitBoys' yearly "Well, no it didn't ship when we planned. But, look at this new improved spec for a chip that we hope to ship *next* year" press release.

It's becoming a sign of the holiday seasons. I wonder if a drinking game can be made around it, ala "The Grinch".

Re:3500 owner here (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 13 years ago | (#623665)

My TNT2 is 2.5+ years old and going strong. I might get a GeForce 2 Ultra, but I'll probably wait until the first NV20 boards come out.

Do I need a new board for the games I play? Not really. But, I have a motherboard with AGP4x and I might as well make use of it.

Other Competitors (1)

rips (34200) | more than 13 years ago | (#623666)

Its not just NVidia and ATI who are left in the ring. Matrox is not far behind with their G400(and that has some cool features in their hardware that the others still dont!). As soon as they get up to speed with the whole hardware accelerated T&L thing they'll be back in the picture.

3DFX have a fair way more to catch up in terms of features. Their current chipsets don't have the raw power and features that their competitors do but they've got the industry experience on their side. I for one hope they get back on their feet!

SLI does not equal multi-board (2)

derinax (93566) | more than 13 years ago | (#623668)

SLI = Scan Line Interleave, a process that has nothing to do with multiple PCI boards. A Voodoo 5 5500 does two-chip SLI in a single AGP board. The now-cancelled V5-6000 (which I have fondled and demoed myself at WinHEC some 8 months ago) did four-chip SLI on one monster AGP board.

The aforementioned Quantum3D card was a single board with two V2 framebuffers and four V2 texture units.

Just to clarify.

Derina X. Pinchfish

Re:What's a deltic? (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 13 years ago | (#623669)

Isn't that the frat the guys in Animal House were members of?

Very sad :/ (1)

yetisalmon (70744) | more than 13 years ago | (#623670)

This is very sad to see. 3dfx was a pioneer in 3d rendering technology. They helped the coming of Quake and the original 3d shooters. It's too bad they have to drop out. But I guess, whoever makes the best products wins huh? 3dfx did stop getting innovative there at the end....

Now, about those lawyers... (2)

Raetsel (34442) | more than 13 years ago | (#623671)

Can we have our Glide wrappers back? Please?

(Just a plea from someone who still enjoys some older games, and doesn't have (or want) a Voodoo card.)

This is good. (1)

nebular (76369) | more than 13 years ago | (#623672)

All in all I've always found 3dfx's products to be good. I mean for the hard core gamer I'm sure the cards were lacking in performance, but no everyone is a hard core gamer. up until the V3 their stuff was great, but then they had to worry about shipping their own product by a certain point and had to keep up in the competaive market. Now they have a bit of luxury. Granted 3dfx's stuff won't be on par, but they'll be devoted to chip development.

And because of I"m sure to get drivers. Which is the main reason I stayed with 3dfx even after the reviews.

3500 owner here (1)

pauldy (100083) | more than 13 years ago | (#623673)

I got it for the 3d acceleration and built in tunner. Takes up one slot and does a lot better than my previous card. It seems to me it is all a game of leap frog. Never ending and never winning. You buy any video card today and you've made a good purchase if you can still play games on it in 6 - 10 months.
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