half-ass history of 3dfx

Hekotat

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#3
Voodoo 5500 was my first vid card, wish I still had that thing.
 

Whidon

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#4
I got as far until i saw he wrote an "obituary" sort of story of Wang labs ( he even gets the name wrong) and saw that he called it a minicomputer company. Wang did make minicomputers but they were not the core of the business and far better known for word processors and what used to be called "office automation".

I had a few relatives that worked at Wang in it's heyday, and we were talking about this over Christmas, Wang, DEC, and mostly every huge 70-80s East Coast computer company save IBM crashed and died in the 90s is because they were set up as massive computer behemoths that were insanely unwieldy and unfocused compared to the newer computer companies that started competing with them in the 80-90s. IBM only barely survived by switching to a services based model and stopped trying to be a million, something maybe only DEC probably could have done also if Compaq didn't fuck that up so badly.

I guess 3dfx is a bit more recent so maybe it's not so bad. Personally i don't think it's that interesting of a story, they briefly made very good gfx cards but rapidly were overcame and became noncompetitive. No need for a million words i think.
 

a c i d.f l y

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#5
The primary reason 3dfx failed was having a proprietary API, having zero 2D support (and absolute garbage when it finally did), horrendous texture mapping (blurred as fuck), and OpenGL was done through a wrapper. The same problem PowerVR , but for different reasons. The tech on the PowerVR chip was leagues ahead, but the wafer fab tech of the time couldn't produce units very effectively.

I'm also sad this article didn't include any mention about S3 Savage chips, or Descent. S3 was a tertiary player but their cards rendered much better images, albeit at much lower frames, and heavier cpu utilization, but had solid 2D support.

The beginning of the rivalry between Nvidia and ATI, that persists to this day, was also a huge factor. Remember owning all of the following: Rage, Rage 128, Rage Fury, Rage FURY MAXX, Riva 128, Riva TNT, and so many others that seemed to come out rapid fire, year after year.

Remember a buddy had a pair of Voodoo2's on a P2-233 system, and seeing Quake 2 run like butter, but also looking like shit.

Still, 3dfx owners were all the rage at the end of the LAN party era.

There was also the hot second when Matrox video cards were the 2D rage and they started creating Direct3D compatible cards, but like mentioned in the article, were also priced well outside consumer pricing, and performed pretty poorly, but produced excellent renders.

The article connects some good points between the origin and current happenings, but doesn't really get into the nitty gritty.
 
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Tholan

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#6
I had the first iteration of 3dfx, then a voodoo 2. Then I had to chose between an ATI and Nvdia, took the ATI because it was supposed to have a good DVD support or some shit. My first experience with ATI, and my last - the driver was almost impossible to install on my comp, there were like a bazillion programm on the CD, zero manual, and of course, the dvd part was a shareware that required you to pay for more than 1min play.
Then I bought nvidia and never looked back.
 

TJT

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#7
I got as far until i saw he wrote an "obituary" sort of story of Wang labs ( he even gets the name wrong) and saw that he called it a minicomputer company. Wang did make minicomputers but they were not the core of the business and far better known for word processors and what used to be called "office automation".

I had a few relatives that worked at Wang in it's heyday, and we were talking about this over Christmas, Wang, DEC, and mostly every huge 70-80s East Coast computer company save IBM crashed and died in the 90s is because they were set up as massive computer behemoths that were insanely unwieldy and unfocused compared to the newer computer companies that started competing with them in the 80-90s. IBM only barely survived by switching to a services based model and stopped trying to be a million, something maybe only DEC probably could have done also if Compaq didn't fuck that up so badly.

I guess 3dfx is a bit more recent so maybe it's not so bad. Personally i don't think it's that interesting of a story, they briefly made very good gfx cards but rapidly were overcame and became noncompetitive. No need for a million words i think.
The technology reason is actually more interesting from an engineering standpoint. For whatever reason may be lost to history now. 3dFX decided to make a proprietary, native, language that you needed to use to interact and tune the GPUs. Rather than modify if on your own code end you had to find a way to incorporate their weird shit in order to actually use the product efficiently.

Now, I've never seen it. But developers from that time seem to all have universally reviled this heavily modified C shit they were using. They hated it so much that they went for the next competitor almost instantly.

On top of their other problems of course.
 

alavaz

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#8
I only bought (acutally stole) a voodoo2 to play everquest. I bought it from Staples, but then I returned it with some random PCI card in it (I think it was a modem).

I just recently started using NVidia again but I always enjoyed ATIs products. I could buy their equivalent to whatever the best NVidia was (hell I'm still rocking a 7970 in one machine) and it would play most games flawlessly. I never had a single issue aside from Rift which I think was sponsored by NVidia.
 

Soygen

Survived Year 1 - FOH.org
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#9
I had the Canopus Pure 3D card, which was Voodoo1 board. Instead of the standard 4MB of video ram, it had a WHOPPING 6MB. I remember selling it to some guy on IRC, who never sent the second half of the payment. Fuck that guy.
 

Big Phoenix

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#10
But what about the oxygen cards.
 

Xadion

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#11
I got a Voodoo 5 5500 PCI because my shitty mobo didnt have AGP and I needed some more power for my EQ addiction - I had a JetFighter card before that, but drivers where incompatible with EQ :-(

I drove out two cities to a babages, or whatever it was that's gone now also from that store line - as they had one in stock...like 500$ wow.... I used that thing for a long long time.

Edit: okay not jetfighter, it was Real3D's StarFighter card that I had before I got my Voodoo 5

Real3D - Wikipedia

ahh there it is, so sexy ;-) -- being stuck on PCI was a real bitch back in 1999

 
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Leadsalad

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#12
I grew up on Macs. Got a Voodoo 1 as my first video card. The fact that it was pass through vga from the onboard chip still makes me chuckle today. Having to run a 6" vga to vga cable behind the computer, why?

Then later a Voodoo 3. Then I was able to buy something that wasn't an overpriced shitbox and ended up on the Windows side of the fence and never went back. Building the whole computer from parts was great fun and I can't see myself buying a prebuilt until it's no longer an option in the future.