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The Last Days at 3dfx

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the good-times dept.

Graphics 219

sand writes "FiringSquad has a detailed account of what happened in the final days at 3dfx. Every 3dfx product that was released or upcoming is discussed by a former 3dfx employee with inside knowledge on what caused the product delays (including an employee who forgot to fly to Asia to pickup the first Voodoo5 chips). He also discusses money mismanagement and the STB merger. It's a very enlightening article for anyone who's interested in 3D graphics and what goes on inside these companies."

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219 comments

Businesses come and go (2, Insightful)

ites (600337) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335453)

There is no rule that says that business have to survive.
3dfx changed the graphics scene at a time when this was worth doing,
but today there is little need for faster graphics.
It's natural and normal that the market moves and the companies move with the market.
When a company is so focussed on a single segment, they usually go broke during such changes.
Sad, but presumably their excellent people will find good work elsewhere.

Re:Businesses come and go (3, Funny)

lunenburg (37393) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335599)

There is no rule that says that business have to survive.

Tell that to the RIAA, and be sure to have paramedics around when they go into convulsive fits of laughter.

Re:Businesses come and go (2, Insightful)

ites (600337) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335655)

This is true.
The concept that a business stopping is 'bad' is perhaps a consequence of stock markets.
In fact it's quite natural that businesses stop being relevant and thus cease trading.
It's a shame when they actually go broke, it would be smarter to liquidate before that
and split the proceedings amongst the shareholders.
But this almost never happens, because we have come to believe that a business must succeed or die, never just quit while the going is good.

Re:Businesses come and go (4, Insightful)

mrleemrlee (192314) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335783)

The notion that the death of a business is no big thing ignores the human element and several economic facts.

First of all, the death of a business creates all kinds of collateral damage, from employees who lose their jobs to creditors and shareholders who never get paid. When the going is good, wealth is created, which creates benefits not only for the company, its shareholders and its employees, but also for its vendors, the municipality it resides in, and surrounding businesses where employees shop (this is known as the "multiplier effect," if you've studied economics). Many, many people and entities gain from a healthy business.

Second, the idea that a business should "quit while the going is good" is ridiculous on its face. Businesses are started to create wealth. They are best at creating wealth "when the going is good." It makes no sense to start a business at all if you're planning to close up shop when you start to be successful. "We just made our first profit! Time to liquidate!" Sure ...

Businesses certainly can quite easily become irrelevant, but when that happens, there are real costs associated with that, to many consituencies. A business dying is quite far from a neutral event.

Re:Businesses come and go (2)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336193)

Economists would say the time to quit is when the net benefits of quitting equal the net benefits of staying in business. Unfortunately, most businesses are run by managment teams who are employed by the business, so thier incentives are different from the owners of the business. Which is why you occasionally see hostile takeovers to sell of the assets of the business.

Liquidation is not the same as bankruptcy (1)

ites (600337) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336440)

"Death of a business" is exactly the thing to avoid.
Normal liquidation means paying all creditors,
giving the employees a decent period of dismissal
and splitting the remains between the shareholders.
It's not about quitting after a "first profit"
but about applying the same rules to the future
as one hopes the founders applied at the start.

Re:Businesses come and go (5, Interesting)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335694)

but today there is little need for faster graphics.

The need for faster and better graphics is exactly why 3dfx died. nVidia caught up and passed them while they were making mistakes like telling people they didn't want or need 32bit colour in 3D games or making 2d/3d cards that didn't hold up to their 3d-only boards.

LOL (0, Insightful)

headchimp (524692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335457)

Just love getting the skinny on failed companies. Wish people from other companies would come out and do the same.

Re:LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335508)

Then go to F*d company [fuckedcompany.com] - plenty of skinny.

A company I used to work out was just closed, and was discussed there... [fuckedcompany.com]

Re:LOL (0)

headchimp (524692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335568)

Been there before, thanks for the direct link, I get off on other people's misery, makes mine less painful.

Re:LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335750)

Hey CmdrTaco! He's talking about you!

Re:LOL (2)

mbogosian (537034) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335757)

Just love getting the skinny on failed companies. Wish people from other companies would come out and do the same.

If you're really that interested, check out http://fuckedcompany.com/ [fuckedcompany.com] . You have to wade through a lot of garbage (they don't have the notion of Karma with their blogs (I hate that term)), but you get an almost-as-it-happens look at recently failing companies.

It's one of those sites which are propbably more entertaining to those who watch the nightly news for the explosions rather than the weather....

3D Rectum (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335478)

Dear Apple,

I am a homosexual. I bought an Apple computer because of its well earned reputation for being "the" gay computer. Since I have become an Apple owner, I have been exposed to a whole new world of gay friends. It is really a pleasure to meet and compute with other homos such as myself. I plan on using my new Apple computer as a way to entice and recruit young schoolboys into the homosexual lifestyle; it would be so helpful if you could produce more software which would appeal to young boys. Thanks in advance.

with much gayness,

Father Randy "Pudge" O'Day, S.J.

3dfx became a religion (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335488)

3dfx became a religion. I bought an nVidia RIVA 128 and was ridiculed for buying from an unknown firm. That Glide was available for a few graphic cards only was neglected by 3dfx-zealots.

There was no reason to buy anything but 3dfx (4, Insightful)

StupidKatz (467476) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335587)

Up until the TNT (TNT2), 3dfx was still king of the hill... It would be like buying a Maxtor drive back in Western Digital's heyday.

You *know* what works, so why buy anything else? On the other hand, that's why I like hardware review sites like anantech and Tom's. You may not want to trust them completely, but they do give you a free peek at hardware capabilities. :)

Re:There was no reason to buy anything but 3dfx (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335745)

At the time of the Riva128, though, 3dfx didn't have a good 2d board. While the Riva128 wasn't the best 2d board, either, it did do the job for most people and supplied opengl support that worked OK for many games (remember that opengl support didn't come along for Voodoo cards until Quake3 stopped support for the miniGL drivers).

Re:There was no reason to buy anything but 3dfx (2)

Toraz Chryx (467835) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336122)

OpenGL support wasn't in existence for the R128 (outside of a very dodgy beta release) until just before the TNT was released IIRC :/

Re:There was no reason to buy anything but 3dfx (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336182)

hmm my Viper V330 had OpenGL drivers in the box. That doesn't mean they worked very well, but they were there.

Of course, then I had to have one of those 3d switcher programs installed on my machine all the time to tell the games whether to use my Riva128 or my SLI Voodoo2 cards.

I went through the nVidia product cycles buying a TNT and then a TNT2Ultra before I pulled the Voodoo2 cards from my system. The Voodoo3 came out sometime after the GeForce if I remember correctly, which gives an idea of how bad the situation really was for 3dfx. The SLI Voodoo2 setup was better at some things than the TNT2 Ultra that came out so much later (and far superior to the cards before it), but the Voodoo3 didn't really compete very well with nVidia's cards by the time it came out.

Re:There was no reason to buy anything but 3dfx (1)

Datafage (75835) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336493)

You remember incorrectly. The Voodoo3 came out shortly before the TNT2 Ultra. The Voodoo5 came out somewhat in time with the GeForce2. Note, however, that the TNT2U was pretty much superior to the Voodoo3, and the Voodoo5 was pretty much dead in the water from the beginning with very few games requiring Glide, and the GF2 had superior OpenGL and at least equal Direct3D.

Re:3dfx became a religion (2, Interesting)

Czernobog (588687) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336058)

Seeing as this is slahdot could you please explain to me what is so bad about 3dfx becoming a religion, when GNU/OSS/Linux and the like have reached a level of fanaticism amongst the developers and users that is hardly matched by any other social/technologic/scientific/religious movement?

In other words, what makes you think that OSS is more valid a subject of religious following, than a company making products, that up to a point in time reached new heights in performance in previously unexplored ways?

NVIDIA's G4? ATI's 9600? HA! I'm still using my V3 3000.

Re:3dfx became a religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336243)

Errr... Apparently no-one noted my mistake. :D

"That Glide was available for a few graphic cards only was neglected by 3dfx-zealots."

should have been

"That Glide was available for very few games cards only was neglected by 3dfx-zealots.",

of course. :D

Apparently people understood what I meant anyhow. :D

Re:3dfx became a religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336289)

"That Glide was available for very few games cards only was neglected by 3dfx-zealots.",

should have been

"That Glide was available for very few games was neglected by 3dfx-zealots.", :(

No, I'm not drunk... Just a poor proof-reader.

Re:3dfx became a religion (0, Troll)

Azureash (571772) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336409)

Dammit, use both hands when you type! Your crank can wait until you tab back to goatse.cx.

Re:3dfx became a religion (1)

UberLame (249268) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336286)

Of course, the ideal setup at that time would have been both a Riva128 and Voodoo card.

Glide games, of course, would use the voodoo. Don't install the 3dFX directx driver and force those games to use the Riva (since the riva, at the time, was faster for directx games), and set opengl to run on the riva (if you use applications, if using games, it's up to you).

On a side note, blender still runs quite nicely on a P166mmx with a riva 128. I can't say the same for anything when the video card is a voodoo.

But I still love my 3 voodoo cards (a voodoo 3 and 2 voodoo 2s for SLI mode).

3dfx started to fail for this reason (4, Insightful)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336356)

I think one thing that really started to kill 3dfx was the fact until Voodoo5, 3dfx acceleration required you buy a separate board in addition to the main graphics card, something many users and OEM's intensely dislike.

When both nVidia and ATI started offering better 3-D graphics cards that didn't need a second card for good 3-D performance, that seriously hurt 3dfx very quickly. It also didn't help that 3dfx's offerings when the Voodoo5 did finally get released didn't compare well with the nVidia and ATI competition, either.

What finally killed 3dfx was the release of nVidia's GeForce 256 chipset, which offered a quantum leap forward in 3-D acceleration. ATI's rapid development of the Radeon R100 and R200 chipsets didn't help things for 3dfx, either.

Re:3dfx started to fail for this reason (2, Interesting)

MentalPunisher2001 (320024) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336576)

Nope.
Until the Riva 128/Riva TNT arrived on the scene, 3dfx was the ONLY way to go.
Trust me - I even had a Rendition Verite card.
Don't even mention ATI's rage pro (or MY rage at the lack of decent drivers for it).
After the TNT, Voodoo 2 SLI was STILL faster.
The Banshee gave 3dfx a 2d/3d solution, but it was inferior to the TNT AND the Voodoo 2 (without SLI).
Later, 3dfx created the Voodoo 3 - in its many flavors, at different clock speeds.
NONE could render in 32 bit color.
Nvidia came out with the TNT 2 which COULD render in 32 bit color, and was slightly faster anyways (my V3 topped out at 200MHz, a lot of TNT 2 cards went even faster - and could use asynchronous memory/GPU speeds (yes, I know the term GPU was non-existent at the time - but it is now).
That was the time for 3dfx to shine with its Rampage product.
Nvidia released the Geforce - bringing geometry acceleration to the masses.
3dfx brought the Voodoo 4 and 5, which were 32 bit enabled. However, they did not have geometry acceleration, and used a more expensive multiple chip architecture to achieve semi-competitive performance. They were behind the times in an industry where you cannot afford to fall behind.
That was the end - Rampage never saw the light of day. Even the Voodoo 5 6000 (or Voodoo 6 6000 - I forget) vanished.
3dfx was good, but NVidia made some bets which paid off.
3dfx was used to LOOONNNGGG product cycles.
Remember how many years the Voodoo graphics chipset (original) ruled the 3d scene??
Remember how long the V2 SLI obliterated the competition??
Nvidia changed everything with their 6 month product cycles - less profit, but more progress.
Had 3dfx encountered stronger opposition in the Voodoo Graphics days, we might not be speaking of the company in the past tense.

Sorry if this is double posted - my login didn't work right.

Re:3dfx started to fail for this reason (1)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336734)

I think one thing that really started to kill 3dfx was the fact until Voodoo5, 3dfx acceleration required you buy a separate board in addition to the main graphics card ...

That's not true. I had a Voodoo3 in my computer until only a few months ago, and it did 2D/3D all by its own self.

Now I have a GF4 Ti4200, but I think I need to get a faster proc than the 800MHz Athlon that's in there now.

/me reluctantly plods along on the upgrade treadmill...

Competition (5, Insightful)

e8johan (605347) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335489)

This is what competition is all about. When a company cannot deliver the best product to the best price they don't get any income. If you don't have and income and spend alot without being able to overtake your competators, you will enventually run out of money. It is not fun, but reality in a market economy.

Eventually we will see this when it comes to ATI and nVidia, or they will find a niche market to survive in. The big profit will go to the one making the best product at the best price.

Note - I do not critisize market economy, without it we would probably not have hardware accelerated 3D for home computers at all!

Re:Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335633)

You know, ATI has been around for a f'ing long time. They haven't done squat. Just enough to survive, yes, but their drivers have always sucked and their hardware is only so-so to decent.

Matrox is in the same position but they focused way too much on 2D performance and have never caught up with modern 3D cards.

nVidia seems to have the best future. I think either they will stay on top or some nobody company (maybe ex-SGI employee founded company or something) will pop up and take the top place.

Re:Competition (2)

evilviper (135110) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335660)

Eventually we will see this when it comes to ATI and nVidia, or they will find a niche market to survive in. The big profit will go to the one making the best product at the best price.

I doubt that either ATI or nVidia is going to replace the other. They've each managed to keep pace with the other along the lines of both performance and price. So, unless one of them is operating too close to their margins at present, I don't see why they can't continue to compete for a good long time.

Re:Competition (2, Insightful)

jayayeem (247877) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335776)

Both ATI and nVidia can survive because the both support the microsoft DirectX APIs. 3dfx could not survive because they did not support them, or supported them only as an afterthought to their own Glide. All Windows users have DirectX... a few had Glide. As the performance edge disappeared, so did the reason to support Glide.

Re:Competition (2)

e8johan (605347) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335944)

I'll reply to all replies here.

DirectX or not, competing and overtaking each other over and over again - still, one will win in the end.
As for DirectX, if you support it, but don't deliver performance, your dead.
Compete for a long time, yes, but I did not specify a time limit

I'm just saying that you have to deliver a good product to a good price, and anyone who can't deliver the best product to the best price (ratio, best does not mean cheapest) will lose in the long run.

Re:Competition (2)

Violet Null (452694) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336137)

competing and overtaking each other over and over again - still, one will win in the end....Compete for a long time, yes, but I did not specify a time limit

And in the long run we're all dead. And the universe suffers a (pick one) Big Crunch / heat death.

But if you're talking about _meaningful_ time frames...

Re:Competition (2, Interesting)

jayayeem (247877) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336625)

Price/performance ratio is not the only level of competition for graphics cards. It does happen to be the criteria I'd use if I were in the market.

Some buyers (office managers) will buy based on raw price.

Others (gamers) will buy on raw performance.

One company may eventually fill all three niches (and any others I may have missed) but I don't think it is the inevitable outcome.

As for DirectX, it is the minimum point of entry to the graphics market today. If you don't support it, and support it in the segment you compete at, you are dead. One reason 3dfx died, IMHO, is that it tried to compete at the high end, but its Direct X support was decidedly low end.

I'd read the article if it weren't blocked by my proxy.

Re:Competition (5, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336312)

You've missed the point. There is not supposed to be a Final Winner, or else we all lose. As soon as there is a Final Winner, competition dies. At any one generation, the Winner gets better profits and the right to compete on the next generation. But you want there to be a runner-up who will viably go on to the next generation, as well.

We have let Microsoft color our thinking too much, fill us with envy, and convince us that this is The Business Model.

Re:Competition (2)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336646)

When a company cannot deliver the best product to the best price they don't get any income. ... The big profit will go to the one making the best product at the best price. (emphasis added)

No, profits will go to anyone who figures out how to release a product that satisfies some customers. Your belief that you can somehow release the "best product" while simultaneously achieving the "best price" is silly. Generally, price goes up with quality, because there are costs associated with improving quality, and they get passed on to the consumer as increased price.

There's a curve that you're talking about - to get a higher quality product, you generally have to pay more. If products exist at different points along that curve, it is entirely possible for the companies that produce them to co-exist.

I could easily see ATI and nVidia fighting for a long time. Just as AMD and Intel. And Sony and Nintendo. And GM and Ford. And McDonalds and Burger King. Consumers win, in this scenario, because they're more likely to find a product that satisfies them - as long as there's no collusion.

Last Days, (2)

thoolie (442789) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335494)

They made some good cards and i guess you could even call them "the father of the modern video card". Hell, i still have a voodoo banshee sitting in a box under my PC. You can still hear UT running on that Voodoo 3 (at a whopping 30fps...)

Re:Last Days, (4, Funny)

OrangeSpyderMan (589635) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335547)

So, you have a banshee in a box that you put under your PC and it'll run UT so well you can hear it? How does that work?

:-)

Re:Last Days, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336119)

i think the dumb fucktard probably keeps a condom in his pocket all the time so he can safe sex anywhere, anytime without fear of getting any STDs.

nothing to see here. move along. just a dumb asshole who's fucking stupid.

Re:Last Days, (1)

MentalPunisher2001 (320024) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336637)

UT ran GREAT on my Voodoo 3.
It used the 3dfx Glide API, and ran closer to 60fps for me (even at higher res).

What happened at 3DFX (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335501)

1) Sell high-end video cards which only a relatively small percentage of computer users will buy while everyone else buys the competitions' cards
2) ????
3) Profit!

Bad modding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335779)

That was not offtopic. It's exactly what happened to 3DFX. They went for the high-end, while leaving the mass-market to their competition. Their competition sold far more units, even if at much lower cost, made more money and therefore developed their technology at a faster pace. 3DFX lost out and went bust because of their tactics. How is that offtopic? It's right on the nose.

Re:What happened at 3DFX (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335865)

i like the south park reference. and again it is not off topic ;)

rejecting the gpl? (5, Funny)

Mattygfunk (517948) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335515)

For obvious reasons our source would like to remain anonymous....

Grrrrr closed source.

-----
sexy sexy wallpaper mmmmmmmmmmmm [wallpaperscoverings.com]

3dfx (0)

entrails_770 (605253) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335519)

3dfx were good bar the v3 3500 their drivers were good and the hardware was good i had v2,banshee,v3 and still have a v5 5500 in my kids pc.It was a sad day when they died.But they always seemed to be behind the game after they started making thier own cards..

Investors gets the raw end of this... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335526)



They did truely sell out. The people who bought their shares were left with nothing. And once again the CEOs and all the big-urns gets a fat bonus with a big grin on their faces as they make this oh-so-tough-decision. It was so very pathethic to get the letter for 3dfx.

Re:Investors gets the raw end of this... (2)

Pii (1955) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336329)

Well said.

(This post provided by a formerly proud TDFX shareholder, and recipient of said letter... *grumble**grumble*)

They didn't innovate enough (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335530)

They should have added useful features and clever thinking that circumvented the problems that plagued the other companies. AGP Texture bandwidth could have been solved by texture compression, but S3 ended up doing that. 32 bit colour was implemented by everyone except 3DFX. They could have saved a lot fo bandwidth if they'd have come up with better Z buffer algorithms, but PowerVR did that. They could have added programmable graphics, but that was left to ATI. They could have put T&L on the card, but that was left to Nvidia.

3DFX failed because they didn't innovate

Re:They didn't innovate enough (2, Interesting)

ites (600337) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335579)

Technology does not solve social issues
and here it looks like 3dfx did not deliver the technology,
but IMHO the problem came because their product became a commodity item.
Frankly, the market for high-end graphics came and went.
Cheap on-board chips work well for 95% of users.
In such a market, only a couple of suppliers can remain
and it will be those with the lowest margins and costs,
not those with the best technology (which means creative people and higher margins).

Re:They didn't innovate enough (1)

hummer357 (545850) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335679)

Still,

I wonder what nvidia's going to do with the 3dfx and gigapixel technologies...

h357

Re:They didn't innovate enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335942)

NV30, which should be available around Christmastime (most probably after), is rumored to be the first Nvidia product that makes use of 3dfx's/Gigapixel's IP.

Re:They didn't innovate enough (5, Insightful)

CoolVibe (11466) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335912)

3DFX failed because they didn't innovate

No, it failed because of braindead and utterly stupid upper management. Most companies die that way.

It's always the management that screws it up. Remember that. Read Dilbert. Understand it. Make it your corporate religion. Prevent falling on your face. Oh, and don't forget: laugh.

It's the management, silly (3, Insightful)

Aapje (237149) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336435)

Yep, it's all very simple:

If a company fails because it tries to do the wrong things, the management is at fault because they are supposed to tell the rest of the company what to do. If the rest of the company fails to do the things the management asks of them, the managers are at fault because they hired these guys.

In short, always blame the boss when something goes wrong. ;)

Re:They didn't innovate enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336116)

They should have not wasted money sueing other companies for producing graphics cards on the grounds that they apparantly infringed their patents, even though their case was laughable, and all other manufacturers used similar techniques. Being American doesn't help you if you`re trying to flog your kit to non-american companies. Japanese companies, for example, are notoriously unbothered by flag waving.

Re:They didn't innovate enough (2)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336175)

They failed because of stupid managment. Innovation has nothing to do with success. Look at Microsoft and how they are a successful company that hasnt innovated anything but clippy (may there never be a part II) and Microsoft BOB.

Voodoo cards (5, Insightful)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335532)

At the start of the consumer 3d graphics business Voodoo were clearly superior, I still have a Voodoo 1 laying around somewhere, there were problems; the whole passthrough cable thing, the lack of windowed support & 16bit clour were all problematic. As an upgrade Voodoo offered the second revision that could run in SLI mode. It required two PCI slots in addition to your 2d graphics card and was horrendously expensive.

nVidia released the TNT that offered similar performance, in one card (not 3!), did 32 bit colour and was significantly cheaper.

3DFX was never competitive from then on, offering weaker, more expensive products that relied on brand name support.

The widespread adoption of D3D / OpenGL around this time over the proprietary Glide API was the nail in the coffin.

Re:Voodoo cards (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335697)

Voodoo II SLI completely creamed all competition at the time. It took the TNT2 chipsets for there to be a serious competitor.

Re:Voodoo cards (1)

LtOcelot (154499) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336595)

The AC above (currently modded at 0) is correct about a point the +5 rated parent got wrong. The original TNT was competitive with a single Voodoo 2, but not with a pair in SLI. The Voodoo 2 SLI solution remained the pretty much uncontested "hardcore" choice until the next generation appeared.

Re:Voodoo cards (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335759)

The widespread adoption of D3D / OpenGL around this time over the proprietary Glide API was the nail in the coffin.

AHHHH! Now why did you have to go and mention Glide? You just brought thousands of bad memories rushing back:

Glide32.dll NOT FOUND.... HAH! you don't get to play this game...

Re:Voodoo cards (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336548)

Heh, those "Unreal" days. I remember getting mad to 3dfx as a rendition 2100 user.

Someone did a glide wrapper for Rendition and 3dfx sued them etc I remember.

Oh, don'T ask, Voodoo 3000 user now. Thanks to Nvidia (or anyone to blame), I have to rely on 3rd party drivers for getting gamma settings support. On Windows XP.

Re:Voodoo cards (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336443)

I believe that Voodoo's lack of a single card to support 2D and 3D was a serious flaw.

I personally held off from buying a new system several months until a card came out that had both (I still am running that original TNT card).

The idea of running a separate board just for 3D never made much sense from a consumer perspective. Sure, you will get some early adopters, but clearly it wasn't sustainable in the long run. This seems to be an engineering solution to a marketing problem.

Marketer: We need to sell a card that is easy to use.
Engineer: The 2D boards out there already work well, if we integrate them on our 3D boards it will make our boards more expensive. Plus, people will have to throw away perfectly good 2D hardware every time they upgrade.
Marketer: Huh?
.
.
.
Go out of business.

It's a shame (2)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335667)

It's a shame 3dfx couldn't innovate and keep up, as I liked their products. The first 3d accelerator I bought was a Voodoo2 Banshee, followed by a Voodoo 3 and a Voodoo 5 5500 (bought 1 week before 3dfx collapsed). In all my time using Voodoo cards, I never once had a problem with them. They were fast for their time, and there drivers seemed to be rock solid stable.

It's too bad they couldn't keep up with nVidia and ATI, though I must admit I'm loving my shiny new Radeon 9700 Pro....

Re:It's a shame (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336257)

i bought the original voodoo when it was considered to be 'new'(nobody even knew what it was). and boy was the gfx great, glquake made a huge difference for example..

about the driver support though.. they kept on touting that they would release full opengl drivers instead of the mini-driver for quake, but never did(for original voodoo).

at voodoo1 time's, there really wasn't _any_ alternative to it, all the other cards were just too slow/featurless/lacking good support(glide was great, and even after v2 came out there was little alternative for the fast 3dgame card.).

their inability to move to 2d/3d cards was what killed them imho.

GLIDE (5, Insightful)

muzzmac (554127) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335676)

I like many others was not concerned with them going. Thier attempt to lock the market in via the proprietray GLIDE API was a blatant move to control the market.

I'm happy to see the tail end of any company that does this.

Thier lawsuit against the guy doing the GLIDE wrapper didn't help improve my opinion of them. :-)

Re:GLIDE (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335932)

I like many others was not concerned with them going. Thier attempt to lock the market in via the proprietray GLIDE API was a blatant move to control the market.

We're all really fortunate that we avoided the nightmare of being locked in to a proprietary market controlling API from 3DFX. Luckily, we are in a new enlightened age where most games run on an open, freely shared API fostered by a community of the best minds from every segment of the industry. There's no limit to what can be done with our newfound freedom using APIs like Direct3D...

Hmm, wait a minute...

Re:GLIDE (2, Informative)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336120)

Sure Direct3D is a closed source API, there is always OpenGL is you want to use only open source APIs

The main problem with Glide was that it has created by one company and only that company's products could support it.

Yeah, Direct3D isn't open for anyone to change, but it is a standard that anyone can create a product that adheres to it. Microsoft also seems to be very attuned to market demands and is keeping good relationships with both nVidia and ATI. These relationships allow Microsoft to know and impliment the new desired features into Direct3D.

These new features can be added to OpenGL via extensions; however, the extensions become proxitory and your end up with different company's extensions doing the same thing but are imcompatible. At least with Direct3D this doesn't happen

Re:GLIDE (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336248)

Actually Glide orignally was a benign move. Back in the day when the Voodoo first was being realised, there weren't any acceptable APIs out there. DirectX was still too primitive to be really taken seriously and OpenGL was just more than the Voodoo could handle quickly. Hence Glide, which was optimised for how the Voodoo hardware worked.

The first Voodoo really was a pretty amazing hack to make it work at all. When 3dfx first demoed their new card on a simulator, they got laughed at, people said they'd never make it real silicon. It was therough a lot of ingenuity and scaling back features that they managed to build a 3d card at a consumer pricepoint. It was expensive, yes, but not the thousands of dollars pro cards cost.

Their big problem later was that they really failed to move forward. Technology progressed to the point where you didn't have to make all the compramises and cards like the TNT and TNT2 proved it. Also, Glide was a relic that they should have tried to phase out since DirectX did come to mature and cards had no trouble with OpenGL.

classic 1) 2) ??? 3) profit (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335715)

1) Attend 3fx product show
2) Report it on slashdot
3) ????
4) PROFIT!

What? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335725)

"including an employee who forgot to fly to Asia to pickup the first Voodoo5 chips" Because we all know how expensive FedEX is :-)...

Sure! (5, Insightful)

zrk (64468) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336089)

Most secret technology is often sent through methods that can be intercepted by halfway decent corporate spies.

Surprising this has not happened with soundcards (3, Interesting)

ninjadoug (609521) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335730)

Makes me wonder how Creative have managed to stay top of the soundcard pile. They seem to have been making consistently the best cards, (apart from a brief time when Gravis Ultrasound marketed using the Demo scene). No-one has really compared for the non-professional market. In fact I cannot think of any other Tech product where the first company to make something is still regarded the best. (Intel excluded) So from a business perspective maybe innovation is not the key but improvement of existing technolagy. Sad but true

There's Turtle Beach (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335794)

However, they do not appear to be popular, or even widely available, here in Europe. Until extremly recently, every sound card I have ever seen for sale, or installed, or owned myself, has been a Creative card of some description. As it happens, this computer I am using (Company owned) has a Turtle Beach in it, and that is the first time I have ever seen one. At home I currently use the onboard Via 82Cxx Ac'97, because it was there, and it is the first time I have heard on board audio actually sound passable.

Creative have been at the top of the pile for so long that it is difficult to imagine them going the way of 3dfx. However, sound cards are becoming a comodity item, and it seems that they are bailing out of the low end market as quickly as possible. The low end is being eaten up by integrated motherboard chipsets.

Well this has certainly been a bit of a rant without much of a point. Or direction. Oh well.

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (1)

Night0wl (251522) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335976)

There is also the occasion when something is still on top because no one knows better. If you've owned a mobo based on a via chipset, and a creative card. I bet more often then not you had some issues with it.
I own a Gametheater XP, as well as a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz. Both provide the functionality any offering of Creative can. With a hell of a lot fewer compliance issues.
I'll admit I have been interested in some of Creatives recent releases, they have a few with an interesting break-out box. But it's still just a different set of knobs on the same broken sound card.
I wont purchase another Creative at the present time. I'm quite pleased with Turtle Beach and/or Hercules. But one can't predict the future.

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (2)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336086)

good to hear someone stick up for the Santa Cruz, I bought one early on and it's a fantastic card. I wish it did EAX as well as the Creative cards, but it's all good.

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336197)

I had an SB Live! and a GeForce 2 in a Via K133 motherboard. I never had any problems.

Not that I'm saying that no one ever had any problems, just that not everyone did have those problems.

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (2)

Drachemorder (549870) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336598)

I've got an SB Live Platinum on a VIA-based mobo and it works like a charm, even in Linux. (I had to disable the on-board audio in BIOS before Linux would configure the SB card properly, though, but that's not really something I'd call an "issue" with the mobo --- any conflict with onboard audiowould need to be resolved, no matter what the chipset.) Maybe they do have problems on some boards, though. My mobo is a newer board, and they might have fixed some things.

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (2)

jilles (20976) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336025)

Well creative bought aureal two years ago (creator of the a3d standard) and thus eliminated their primary competitor in the 3d sound market.

I still have a vortex 2 based card which actually still is a nice card. The only problem is that driver support under win xp/2k and linux is really lousy.

Next week I'll receive my new PC and my voodoo 3 and vortex 2 cards will be retired.

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (2, Interesting)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336063)

Makes me wonder how Creative have managed to stay top of the soundcard pile. They seem to have been making consistently the best cards, (apart from a brief time when Gravis Ultrasound marketed using the Demo scene). No-one has really compared for the non-professional market.

Both Gravis and Aureal made better sound chips than Creative, and better cards were made from the chips. Both companies lost to Creative the same way, too: Creative brought massive lawsuits with little merit that lasted so long the companies went bankrupt paying the legal fees to defend themselves.

In other words, Creative managed to stay at the top of the soundcard pile by legislating anyone that looked competetive out of existance.

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336114)

Actually, they weren't the first makers of the modern soundcard. I think that distinction would go to Adlib [oldskool.org] not Creative Labs. Creative Labs first showing of a soundcard was the incredibly medicore Game Blaster. We also can't forget the incredible for its time Roland MT32 which still has kick ass Midi today.

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (1)

ninjadoug (609521) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336534)

yes but these could only be used to play tunes (Fm synthisis on Adlib bit better on Roland) any explosions were silly musical sounds Creative added a DAC and then people took PC games seriously. better stop now, going off topic I see, apolagies

Re:Surprising this has not happened with soundcard (5, Informative)

Forkenhoppen (16574) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336706)

Simple; Creative does it with Creative marketing.

The Audigy, for instance, is little more than a gamer's card. Any serious review of the card that you come across on the internet will tell you this, or if you bought it hoping for some advanced features, you'll find it out for yourself.

Here are some examples of this Creative marketing:

- The Audigy does support 24bit/96kHz sound playback, as advertised, but does not actually play it at that. The second it hits the main chip, it's downmixed to 16/44. So while you can play sound at the higher frequency to it, you're not actually going to hear it. (This is what they mean when they plaster 24/96 all over the boxart.)

- The Audigy does not have independant recording and playback volume controls on the line in. If you wish to record something on a TV tuner, for instance, then you'll have to either listen to it while it records, or turn off the global volume on your soundcard. (Or turn off the speakers.) This makes it impossible to use an Audigy in a PVR setup.

- The much-touted sub 100dB SNR is only on playback. On recording, the SNR is much higher.

I haven't been this disappointed in a card since my SB 128 upgrade ran slower than my SB 64. (I suspect the 64 did the soundfonts in hardware; the 128 did them in software.) Looking at the new Audigy 2, it appears that they'll be offering the 24/96 functionality that was insinuated to be present in the original Audigy, but I don't think I'll bite. I think my next card will be a Hoontech.

And, of course, this is all off-topic..

Glide emulator? (1, Offtopic)

mccalli (323026) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335809)

A lot of games got coded for Glide at that time, making them 3DFX only.

Are there any Glide emulators around, that convert to OpenGL or Direct3D? That would make these games playable and allow them to take advantage of non-Voodoo accelerator cards.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Glide emulator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335836)

Yes- google for glide emulator.

Re:Glide emulator? (3, Informative)

mccalli (323026) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335902)

Doh! :-)

OK, that search led me to here [clara.net] where a good few are around.

Sentinel Returns can live again...

Cheers,
Ian

here's the article (-1, Redundant)

jjshoe (410772) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335824)

slashdotted allready...


Introduction


We've chronicled the humble beginnings of industry titans ATI and NVIDIA in the past, but for today's article we're doing something a bit different. Rather than discuss the origins of a 3D company you're familiar with, 3dfx, we were given the unique opportunity to learn more about what was going on within the company around the time of its sudden downfall. However, unlike previous industry articles we've published, this one comes straight from the horse's mouth!


For obvious reasons our source would like to remain anonymous, but we've known him for quite awhile and can assure you that he is indeed legit. He will briefly go over the early days of 3dfx, before going into detail over each of the company's products. From the original Voodoo Graphics chipset, all the way to unannounced parts such as Fearless and Mojo, it's all covered here. So without further discussion, lets listen up to what he has to say!



In the beginning...
It was a sad loss for the entire graphics industry when 3dfx announced they were closing their doors. Within the last year and half there have been several articles on the subject of 3dfx's demise, looking into both what went wrong and the future generation of products that would have been. Unfortunately, these authors were ill informed on the subject, having made errors on the facts and missed key points. This article will attempt to clear up some of the facts. It will not present every single event that occurred at 3dfx, as that would take an entire book. Rather, highlights will be given that took place along the life of the company.


With the initial introduction of the Voodoo Graphics chipset, 3dfx was given a substantial performance lead. As one of the first true 3D accelerators, the competition for it was Rendition's Verite, S3's Virge and NVIDIA's NV1. PowerVR soon followed with a part, but it was plagued with compatibility issues. Even with these competitors, Verite was the only true 3D accelerator, with S3's decelerator Virge taking a large part of the OEM market. Thus, achieving the performance lead, 3dfx was crowned the winner and the market was theirs.


While it was a product that was not originally scheduled, Voodoo2 soon followed. Voodoo2, much like every other product that followed, was created to fill a gap in 3dfx's product cycles. Voodoo2 again took the market in performance, more than doubling Voodoo Graphic's performance with SLI configurations. Yet through all this, the goal was to deliver Rampage.


Voodoo Banshee


Management changes
It was sometime in between the Voodoo/Voodoo2 period that Greg Ballard came onto the scene as CEO. He was there for marketing, and he was good at it, though there was something missing when it came to technology. He pushed a variety of 3dfx marketing campaigns that helped bring 3dfx to the top. Problems apparently came from his lack of understanding how the graphics industry functioned. Ballard desired to deliver a single chip 2D/3D solution as the competition had thus far done the same.


This would allow 3dfx to enter the mainstream and OEM markets, increasing revenue. It would also renew trust in 3dfx as their ill-fated Voodoo Rush (a multi-chip 2D/3D solution with a separate vendor's 2D core) had created doubters. With limited engineering resources at the time, the only option for this to occur was to remove staff from another project and dedicate them to this. Thus Rampage lost vital engineering resources and Banshee was created.


Voodoo Banshee
With the release of Voodoo Banshee, 3dfx was able to offer a solid 2D/3D solution. Unfortunately, all was not pleasant in the land of 3dfx. Having removed the second texture unit on Banshee's pixel pipeline, multi-texturing performance was below that of a single Voodoo2 solution.


Additionally, NVIDIA for the first time had become a real competitor with their TNT graphics core. NVIDIA's TNT offered similar performance to that of Banshee (in some cases slower, in others faster). Several additional features were built within TNT that were not included in Banshee, such as 32-bit color and textures, as well as high-resolution textures. This made it a somewhat more appealing solution for consumers and developers. 3dfx thus began losing market share and developer confidence.


With all this having taken place and Banshee already having consumed much of Rampage's resources, 3dfx was forced to take Rampage back to the drawing board. It was no longer the high-end board they had hoped. The anticipated market leading performance and feature set no longer existed as NVIDIA had gained considerable ground and the part was simply taking too long to deliver. Thus, with Rampage substantially delayed another stopgap product would be required, this one in the form of Avenger.


Avenger/Delays


Avenger becomes Voodoo3
Avenger, which later became known as Voodoo3, was 3dfx's follow-up to Banshee. Originally this product was to be named Banshee2, for that is really what it was. However, 3dfx management knew that the Voodoo name provided much greater brand recognition and so they opted for that name. Voodoo3's feature set was identical to that of Banshee. It was simply a higher-clocked version of the previous chip with a second texture unit installed. Performance was definitely competitive, with NVIDIA's TNT2 and TNT2 Ultra often falling behind in performance, but the lack of new features made NVIDIA's solution more appealing once again. This hurt 3dfx's sales and caused them to further lose market share and developers confidence.


Just prior to the launch of Avenger, the merger with STB Systems was announced. STB had been an add-in board manufacturer and they had pretty much dominated the OEM market with products in nearly all the major OEM systems. For 3dfx, the hope was to get their products into OEM systems. For STB the hope was to finally have a say in each chip's feature set.


Many would say a mistake made by 3dfx in all this was cutting off supply to other board manufactures. With several companies having strong brand recognition in the United States and Europe, this reduced potential sales. Additionally, Asian board makers, typically having niche with Asian system builders, were cut off. This hurt 3dfx's sales throughout the remainder of their existence.


Product delays
With the oncoming merger almost complete, many at STB were under the impression that 3dfx's next part, Rampage, was all but taped out. This would have been true had 3dfx not decided to make some last minute changes to the design. These were not minor changes either, but major feature introductions. The most important new addition was SLI support. Had SLI not been an included feature, what would be called VSA-100 in its original form, would have been nothing more than a TNT2 Ultra. 3dfx knew this would not be an appealing solution, so Rampage was redesigned to allow for multi-chip boards, theoretically doubling performance (or more, depending on many chips were used). Additionally, 3dfx engineers added FXT-1 texture compression.


Adding technology meant additional delays. Delays not only came from adding features, but also from the new issues that spawned as a result of these additions. Problems crept up along the development path and even more delays were found. Officials within 3dfx did not help this problem either. There were serious delays from simple miscommunications within the company.


One example of this was somebody apparently forgetting to go to Asia to pickup the first batch of completed VSA-100 chips. Another example was a mistake in QA. Quake3 was repeatedly locking their system on Voodoo5 and they could not determine the cause. After a two-week delay the cause was found to be a bad Ghost image that was repeatedly used. These and other reasons set VSA-100 back by weeks.


GeForce vs. Voodoo5


NVIDIA launches GeForce
While all this was developing, NVIDIA was coming on strong. They had released their GeForce256 chip, which took a nice performance lead over Voodoo3. As a follow up, NVIDIA brought the GeForce2 to market. These two parts offered a considerable number of additional features that 3dfx did not provide with Voodoo5. While 3dfx did offer anti-aliasing that was considerably superior to NVIDIA's, they had a tough time selling it due to NVIDIA's aggressive marketing and technology demos. From this, 3dfx lost the majority of their developer support and a considerable amount of consumer confidence.


Voodoo5 6000 problems
In the end, Voodoo5 was a fairly successful product. However, the high-end board, Voodoo5 6000, was forever delayed. There were many happenings with this board, but it boils down to this: 3dfx did not consider the design well enough before the board was announced.


The AGP specification simply was not designed with this type of product in mind. Many attempts were made to work around this, even completely changing the board design and the bridge chip used. Yet in the end, Voodoo5 6000 was canceled in the last weeks of 3dfx.


The specific issue that resulted in the final cancellation was an AGP issue with certain motherboards. While most motherboards did function, there were several that did not quite meet AGP spec, resulting in the boards not functioning. While a BIOS fix on these boards would have likely resolved the issue and though the incompatible boards were few in number, 3dfx chose not release the product. And thus they again failed to retake the performance crown they so badly wanted and lost even more consumer confidence.


While all these events were occurring, 3dfx was losing money. The board manufacturing plant in Mexico was never at capacity, reducing profits on each graphics board sold by roughly 10% from the intended 25% margin. Only in 3dfx's final months did management decide to start selling out the remaining factory space, filling the product lines. This brought the board plant to near profitability on its own, but this was just one change that was too little, too late.


Money/Rampage


More inside details

3dfx was notorious for spending money. In the last year or so, roughly $30-50,000 was spent monthly on lunches. This did not include the additional snacks and drinks that were provided to employees. Hiring didn't stop until the last few weeks, with all of us keeping hope that the company would pull through. Of course this did not happen.


Could 3dfx have lasted? Perhaps. They were offered a line of credit, but the board opted not to accept it as they would not accept the terms. Rumors within the company also circulated that an investor had expressed strong interest in the company, but backed out from a simple "goof" on the boards' part (specifically, it was said to be their mention to the investor the possibility of a buyout by another company). But what would the future have held for 3dfx?


Next generation parts

Daytona- 3dfx's first low-end OEM part. Daytona was effectively a VSA-100 part with a DDR memory controller and a 64-bit memory bus. The idea was to deliver a cheaper version of the VSA-100, with the 64-bit bus making a notable dent in cost. Daytona simply could not be finalized though. It would tape out and a bug would be found, then tape out again and another bug would be found. Fortunately, a chip was not made between each tape out with the final number being A7 silicon. In the end, this resulted in considerable delays and final Daytona silicon never coming to life.


Rampage bringup

This is what you got when your socket isn't connecting well

Rampage (Spectre) - 3dfx's next high-end graphics part was capable of quad-chip support. Rampage silicon had come back from the fab just weeks before the announcement of 3dfx's demise. Sage, Rampage's geometry processor had recently taped out as well, so expectations were high. The first revision of Rampage silicon was able to achieve 200 MHz clock frequencies without active cooling. Originally, the expectation had been to ship it at 200 MHz, but with this capability, there was nothing limiting it from 250+ MHz clock speeds.



Of interesting note are the two bugs that did exist in Rampage silicon. The first was the DAC being flipped, reversing the color channels. It is hard to be certain how this bug managed to slip through, but it did. One possible reason it was not detected is because this was one of the few places on the chip that had not been simulated. The temporary fix was an interesting little board that was attached between the monitor cable and VGA connector. It flipped all the color channels, making it display correctly.


The second bug was an AGP issue that had initially caused some problems but was corrected for bring up boards by fibbing the chips.


Here are the specs on Rampage, and its companion chip, Sage:


Rampage

200+ MHz Core

Approximately 30 million transistors

4 Pixel Pipelines

8 textures per-pass

DX 8 Pixel Shader 1.0

Quad-Chip support


Sage

50 million triangles/sec sustained

150 million triangles/sec real world

DX8 1.0 Vertex Shader

Approx. 20 million transistors


Next generation cores


Tantrum- A single chip combination of Rampage and Sage. Targeted at the OEM market, performance would be lower than a Rampage-Sage combination, with considerably reduced cost.


Fear- The first part based on 3dfx and Gigapixel technology. Fear actually consisted of two separate parts: Fusion and Sage II. Fusion was derived from combining 3dfx and Gigapixel technology. This was a part targeted at DirectX8-9 (though the specification was nothing near final). Being from Gigapixel, it was a deferred rendering architecture. At the time of 3dfx closing shop, Fusion was considered RTL complete and tape out was expected in March of 2001. Sage II was slightly behind Fusion, but it was making ground.


Fusion

250+ MHz Core

Approx 60 Million transistors

4 pixel pipelines

8 texture per-pass via loop back

Deferred Rendering Architecture

DX8-DX9 Pixel Shader


Sage2

100 Million Triangles/sec Sustained

300 Million Triangles/sec Theoretical

DX8-DX9 Vertex Shader


Fearless- A single-chip Fusion-Sage2 part. Comparable to what Tantrum was to Rampage.


Mojo- The distant future of 3dfx. This was based on an entirely new generation of design. It was considered the next-generation of deferred rendering. Targeted at DX9 and higher, it had a considerably extensive feature set. With Fear's anticipated performance being such a high level, the raw performance specifications of Mojo were actually slightly lower. Mojo was a single-chip solution unlike Fear and Spectre, including the geometry processor with the pixel pipeline.


Conclusion

Did 3dfx sell out? Perhaps. Many within the company thought so. Many fans of the company felt let down as well. Members of the board are reported to have received notable perks for the purchase of 3dfx's name and IP, with the dissolution of the company. And of course the end of an era came. Certainly it was a fun era, but as they say, all good things must come to an end.

3DFX and Real3D (4, Interesting)

BobWeiner (83404) | more than 11 years ago | (#4335859)

I used to work at a company called Real3D. The company was thoroughly mismanaged -- despite having an excellent engineering group. It's a similar tale to 3DFX, only R3D never quite penetrated the market. Eventually the company folded, all the engineers were laid off, and most of them have gone to work for ATI. Whatever was left of R3D was eventually consumed by Intel.

I remember walking by the manager of engineering 's office -- he was busy day-trading stocks all day. Our marketing department kept trying to add new features to our board (feature-creep-itis), trying to scramble to catch up to the competition. The introduction of new features really pushed back our schedules in a big way.

Poor management and poor marketing are what really killed R3D.

Re:3DFX and Real3D (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336039)

I used to work at a company called Real3D. The company was thoroughly mismanaged....all the engineers were laid off, and most of them have gone to work for ATI.....

Posting anonomously here to protect my buttocks... Once R3D got to that stage it degenerated into trying to extract income from other 3D companies by threatening them with patents. I believe that 3Dfx was one of the companies targetted.

In particular, they claimed to have invented MIP mapping/trilinear filtering when in fact prior art predated the filing date of the patent. It's enough to make you froth at the mouth.

Re:3DFX and Real3D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336316)

Bad manager. No donut.

Something I learned in the 90s... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4335981)

Never trust middle aged, white guys that play golf and drive a German car. Every company that I have worked for with one of these guys in charge has failed. The best business I ever worked for was run by a Cuban lesbian and I was stupid enough to quit and go work for some middle aged, white guy. DUMB!!! I wish I was still with the Cuban lesbian's company. But I am sure some middle aged, white guy will eventually buy her out and screw it up.

Plus, any one notice the national news perp walks of the corporate crooks? They are all middle aged, white guys! Bet you money they drive German cars and play golf. I just know it!

Moral of the story, allow hunting on golf courses and require golfers to wear antlers when playing.

Death by arrogance (4, Insightful)

John Ineson (538704) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336028)

They day 3DFX bought STB was the beginning of the end. The sheer arrogance of believing they could cut off all their customers and just have the whole business to themselves. That they could compete with both chip *and* board manufacturers, and still come out on top. Sure, they had a head start, but Creative, Diamond, etc, would inevitably throw their considerable support behind another chip company.

The management overplayed their hand, big style, they were bound to lose. They were just way too cocky. Of course you can see that just from the lunch budget.

Too much work? (1)

purrpurrpussy (445892) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336077)

Seesm to me (last page of the story) that if they did indeed ahve all these projects running concurrently they would have over-burdeoned their engineers.

There doesn't seem to be enough spread in the sorts of products they where going to fab either. They needed to break out of just pure graphics chips and produce a better range for those on different budgets. It's all well and good shooting for the high end BUT nV still sell bucket loads of TNT2 type cards.

Re:Too much work? (0)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336219)

I don't think those prodcts would have been at the same stage in the development cycle. It seems to me to be one of the better aspects of 3dfx that they kept going with the new products. Not to do so would have left them completely dead in the water had they stayed in business.

I would have been interesting to see how products like Mojo would have compared with the likes of GeForce 4s and the new Radeons when they all came to market.

Why did they pick such a name? (-1, Troll)

Petrus (17053) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336300)

They might have been great engineers at 3dfx, but I as well as many other people would not simply buy a card named after pagan worshop with some satanic elements and put it my computer in my bedroom.

As well, I would not support company, which thinks that "voodoo" is really a cool name for their product. When they became Linux supported 3dfx card, I decided to keep 2D Matrox Millenium for a looong time.

Petrus

Re:Why did they pick such a name? (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336633)

Are you the same guy who blamed Mozilla for being communist because of that Red Star? (yes, it HAPPENED!)

I am turkish and even I can understand "voodoo" is named after "voodoo magic". Like, it was magic to us those times to see realtime 3d graphics on PC. Its the time you were attending some sort of church chorus and get brainwashed.

I only thought muslim fundementalism was evil before seeing some people like you.

I wouldn't reply to such an obvious troll (or if you really mean it, god help you) but seeing this kind of thing on /. pushed me.

Oh btw, what about PENTAgon? ;-)

Re:Why did they pick such a name? (1)

tx_mgm (82188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336699)

you dont like the naming scheme of the cards because they're pagan?
would you have bought a 3dfx catholic 6000?
i dont know about you, but the word "voodoo" just sounds cool...

Re:Why did they pick such a name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4336738)

You're an idiot. I just thought you might like to know.

Or IHBT? IHL?

dear old Voodoo... and a message to developers (1)

ynohoo (234463) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336446)

I got tired of chasing this tech curve. Sure, I like playing computer games, but keeping up with the spec required just ticks me off. I've got an old P1 233mmx with a Voodoo2 (which Quake3 runs just fine on, thank you), and a P3 laptop with no hardware acceleration.
So I go to the games store these days, and (with the exception of Civ3) there's nothing to buy - unless I want to stump up a couple of thousand for a new system. Thanks, but no thanks.

Re:dear old Voodoo... and a message to developers (1)

Dehumanizer (31435) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336606)

You just don't like games.

Some of us *do*.

Re:dear old Voodoo... and a message to developers (1)

Datafage (75835) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336698)

Playing a modern game requires less than $1000 in new hardware if you still have monitor, keyboard, and mouse. While not exactly pocket change, it's nto horrible. A game that was designed to run well on your desktop would look worse than all its competitors and bomb. If you want a game that requires little or no acceleration, look online for freeware games. The commercial game market, for better or worse, requires hardware pretty much no more than 2 years old.

Reads like a 5th grader's essay. (5, Insightful)

Cinnibar CP (551376) | more than 11 years ago | (#4336721)

I don't see this as a comprehensive storyline explaining the downfall of 3DFX. The article is poorly written, and there is little detail given to the supposed problems and failures that brought about the downfall. Most of what IS in the story is anecdotal, vague, and opinion. It seems that the author was more interested in listing the historical evolution of the 3DFX product line than giving specific, concrete examples.

Lacking perspective, it's difficult to see factual evidence backing the claim of expensive (30-50k) monthly lunch costs, and providing drinks and snacks to employees hardly constitutes what I would picture as the cause for downfall of a company. The author vaguely implies that mismanagement and poor allocation of resources is responsible, but hardly gives detail to these claims, preferring to point out the flaws and errors that bypassed QA as evidence.

The issue where someone "apparently" forgot to go to Asia to pick up a batch of chips is also never elaborated upon.

Towards the end of the article, the author's writing skills give out and we're bombarded with with specifications for items that failed to reach market.
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