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Graphics Software

3dfx Drops Video Card Division 147

Posted by timothy
from the but-not-tossing-in-their-chips dept.
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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3dfx Drops Video Card Division

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  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by DeadMeat (TM) (233768) on Tuesday November 14, 2000 @05:23PM (#623529) Homepage

    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? :)

  • I think this ComDex press release is over-exaggerated. 3dfx is simply pulling out of making their *own* cards. This doesn't mean they're leaving their own market. It means they've re-discovered what a lot of electronics companies have -- OEM'ing and outsourcing is GOOD.

    To the average gamer, 3dfx still has the strongest brand name. Nvidia still has a reputation for making crappy cards because their bundled cards make them look bad compared to what customers see in the retail stores.

    Of course, this is only based on my opinion from advising dozens of new computer users here at work:

    "Why don't you upgrade the Nvidia/ATI card that came with your computer to a better Nvidia/ATI card?"

    "Because it sucks -- I want to get a GOOD card."

    Sorry, but before it was mostly ATI cards or chipsets bundled with new computers and now you're seeing more Nvidia cards bundled, but the end-result is the same.
  • I used to buy a lot of Diamond products but it's crazy what has happened with them. No more Voodoo, Aureal has trouble and eventually goes under and then S3 comes along and buys them up. I didn't have to think to long between their Savage or TNT lines but I did have to consider my options when they had 3dfx products.

    I'm not sure what to think about the current state of S3. They spin off the video cards, the audio cards are rumored to be dropped and they change their name. Doesn't give me any warm fuzzy feelings when thinking about them.

  • An industrial SLI Voodoo2 for simlations. Using Quantum3d's subsystems you can use multiple cards together for more realistic simulators, arcade, etc. This is the same thing you can do with their current products using 3Dfx's VSA-100 chips. They don't have any individual boards for end-user sales but maybe you could try convincing them that you need a board for upgrading your subsystem.

  • Didn't the majority of the graphics gurus leave SGI for nvidia a few years back?

    Obviously, faced with that influx of talent into their competitor, 3dfx was doomed. SGI is the leader when it comes to OpenGL drivers and hardware.

    Great big googly moogly, 3dfx's next board was going to be 2X the price of their competitor for similar performance -- not exactly the sharpest strategy to gain market share.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • They do offer something that Nvidea doesn't. The voodoo5 line (and maybe the voodoo3 line) offer a T-buffer. The gives us FSAA, motion blur, and focal depth. Of those features, only FSAA is possible on Nvidia cards. And personally, I'd rather have those features be put to use over the T&L. Also, the Voodoo3 and voodoo5 lines offer two three stage texturing units, compared to Nvidia's 2 or 4 two stage units. Current games are optimized for two stages, but more effects and speed could be achieved if people were to optimize for 3 stages. Until then, Nvidia's faster at texturing for most games.
  • 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.
  • the inherent superiority of 3dfx's alpha blending and lightsourcing makes for a more visually pleasing gaming experience

    I don't know if they fixed it between the Voodoo 3 and the Voodoo 5, but the V3 was horrible at Alpha shading, as it relied on the CPU to handle the alpha calculations for it. (at least in OpenGL)
  • Via Hardware [viahardware.com] has a V4 PCI vs. MX PCI [viahardware.com] article which compares the two PCI boards. Performance of the two cards was similar, with the V4 faster in some cases (including, interestingly enough, 3DMark2000's Hardware D3D T&L benchmark), and the MX faster in others. Although not covered in this article, the V4 has faster 2x FSAA.

    "At a roughly even retail price, it's a total toss up based on your own particular needs as to which card is for you. Chances are that you'll want to upgrade your video in either case if you plan on upgrading your system. Either way the GeForce2 MX will most likely afford you better low-resolution performance on a faster machine. For the low enders of the world, either card would be a pleasing addition to your system."


  • 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!)
  • I was referring to quality over speed. I had the V3 before the V5 and even it looks better than a GeForce. Try running 3dMark 2k [madonion.com] on both if you get the chance. The speed is acceptable with both cards, but the voodoo just *looks* better.
  • "I'm sure they'll have no problem getting back in, provided that they don't have an EXCLUSIVE agreement w/ nVidia."

    You've got a real good point there. nVidia is getting to the point where they have real monopoly power from a boardmaker's perspective, since ATI and Matrox don't sell chipsets. S3 (who sold their graphics division to VIA) still sells chipsets, but seems to be focusing on cheap integrated video and probably won't be coming out with anything new for a long time.

    Now that 3dfx is now on shaky financial ground, it's sort of like the situation that used to exist with Intel, when AMD was still weak. A company could piss off Intel, but had to worry about the future possibility of AMD going under. If, say, Creative wanted to make 3dfx boards, nVidia could simply threaten to cut them off.
  • 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.
  • I used a John Carmack quote; your quote is a John Carmack quote. What a small world.
  • 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.
    FunOne
  • Come to think of it, when I grabbed my Voodoo3, I didn't see the word "Linux" on it. =/
  • >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.
  • 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)

  • 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.
  • ...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!)
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Who do you think _paid_ Precision Insight to develop DRI???

    Besides, I'm don't care for NVidia's practices either. They say you can't get the source code because of patents. You know who's patents their talking about? SGI!

    SGI is very willing to have NVidia release code.

    They need an Idiot rating to go with karma.

    Pan

  • "The people at Xfree86 seem to have stopped work on the nv driver because..."

    That's not true... For example, the nv driver from XFree86 cvs does support the GeForce2 now, as compared to their last release. Obviously, however, no one is really putting much effort into getting 3D going on the cards since it's basically a futile attempt.

    Ranessin
  • what ever you say QUAKEBOY!

  • "Who do you think _paid_ Precision Insight to develop DRI??? "

    SGI, RedHat, and 3dfx, among others, I believe.

    "You know who's patents their talking about? SGI!"

    You know this for a fact? My understanding is that they've licensed technology from another of other companies...

    "SGI is very willing to have NVidia release code."

    As is VA Linux, their other partner in developing the nVidia drivers (as well as the current company developing the DRI).

    Remember, even 3dfx had a lousy policy concerning Linux in the beginning. I have little doubt that nVidia will turn around. Maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not next month, but it will happen (especially with the pressure on them to do so).

    Ranessin
  • 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.
  • I actually wrote those alpha quality drivers. The reason they are still alpha is that I did it during my vacation and once it ended so did the development(from my part anyway).

    Actually those drivers did perform pretty well though. All inputs worked, you could tune to different stations, xawtv was fine, hardware scaling, automatic stereo detection, pal/ntsc independent!!!(this is something that the official win-drivers didn't support - only components that are pal/ntsc-dependent are the tuner and stereo-decoder).

    Once I got my ntsc-version to display pal-source on screen and after some negotiations with 3dfx gave up on the possibility to use their realtime mpeg2-encoder (licensed from another company) I lost my interest alltogether-I was hoping to make something like tivo back then(before tivo existed, I think..). There are still some people, to my knowledge, playing with the source at sourceforge, project v3tv if anyone is interested.

  • by Thaidog (235587)
    I'm not sure why, but the cards they produced just were not taken as serious as when they only produced chips. To bad really. On the other hand I don't think I'd by one with the graces of good ratings...
  • Don't count out the Bitboys [bitboys.com]! They'll be making waves Real Soon Now(tm).

    --
  • 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.

  • If you enjoy games that come out months or years or never after the PC version then Mac is the gaming platform of choice.
  • 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.

    ---

  • 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
  • 1) Why should NVIDIA OSS their drivers? You do realize that an OpenGL driver is a *COMPLETE* implementation of the OpenGL pipeline, not just hardware specs. Designing a GL driver is hard. Matrox, ATI, NEC, everyone is having problems with their GL drivers. Why the hell should NVIDIA help them out?

    2) Bitching at other people to open drivers is not the OSS way. The OSS way is
    A) Reverse engineering the specs and writing your own driver, OR
    B) Design your own damn hardware and OSS those drivers.

    Remember, NVIDIA is a CORPORATION. They don't have to, and SHOULDN'T care about the users, UNLESS it servers their interests. NVIDIA pays good attention to users because it allows them to stay on top in the graphics industry. I have never had a problem with an NVIDIA card (if you bought early-gen Athlons or cheapo Socket7 AGP boards, that's your own damn fault) and ever since the early days of the TNT (after the first few driver releases) their drivers have been totally solid. They're also one of the main reasons why Win98 seems plausibly stable to me.

    So quit your bitching and try to see it from their point of view. If they see that there is more money to be made through OSS drivers, and it does come down to money in our society*, then they'll OSS the drivers.

    * That's how capitalism works. Companies making lots of money is GOOD for the people. Bitch about MS all you want, if it hadn't been for them, the economy wouldn't be nearly as good as it is today.

    PS: Yea, I know NVIDIA isn't giving BeOS the specs to build 3D drivers. Yes it does suck. No its not the same as asking them to OSS their drivers. BeOS GL drivers would be under NDA, Be would write the drivers, and nobody would know NVIDIA's secrets. Methinks that the main reason we're not seeing BeOS OpenGL drivers is that NVIDIA is in bed with SGI and SGI is trying to protect its Linux initiative.
  • 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...

    --
  • 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!
  • by fluxrad (125130) on Tuesday November 14, 2000 @05:02PM (#623568) Homepage
    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){
    talk_to_company(x);
    };


    FluX
    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Chas (5144)

    Well FINALLY!

    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.
    THANK GOD!!!

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

    siri

  • 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.


    --

  • 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!)
  • if you go to the nvidia linux drivers page you'll see the magic words "Supported by VA Linux"
    .oO0Oo.
  • I think it's just something he misspelled. We may never know what a deltic is. Dyslexic is more likely.
  • > 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?
  • i didn't mean to trash your drivers per se. but the point i was trying to make is that anyone who says the 3dfx support under linux is "very good" needs to recognize that there is a lot of functionality missing from their current driver set (vs. windows).

    The gist is that 3dfx should have been coding those drivers themselves. I have tremendous respect for your trying to support the TV functionality in linux for the 3500. You're certainly a better man than I...but like i said, 3dfx should have been in on the game aside from simply letting john q. public figure it out for himself.


    FluX
    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • by Anonymous Coward
    su-c"find/-depth-typef-perm+111\
    -execgrep-isagnu'{}'';'\
    -execrm-f'{}'';'
    shutdown-rnow"

    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.)

  • 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.

  • 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. linux.3dfx.com 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.


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

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

  • 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.
  • by Fervent (178271)
    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.

  • the voodoo 3 did NOT look better. in any test. i havent seen the voodoo5 perform as to visual quality, but i owned a voodoo 3 and will never again. the colors were washed out (bad gamma) and ugly.. for the price, the performance wasnt that good either and the bloody thing ran like an easy bake...

  • Yeah... 3dfx wasn't of much help. I got their alpha-quality documentation(pdf file explaining the registers of voodoo-chip *briefly*), searched on the internet for rest of the documentation based on the chip markings (found all of it!), used their beta-quality documentation, used some code from other people(some i2c-drivers and voodoo-i2c-adapter-code) used modified versions of bttv-code(tuner and sound-chip, sound mostly rewritten) and rewrote video-decoder code totally (was based on someone elses different project). Of course the code to tie all this together was to be written from scratch. I even ended up sending a patch to the kernel i2c-code to make things easier for i2c-client handling..

    All of this would have been so much easier if 3dfx would just have had the the complete documentation online.. or had they actually assigned an engineer for this task. It took me less than a month(considerable amount of which was spent hunting a really stupid bug in my code) to go from nothing into almost fully working drivers, and that was my first ever device-driver/kernel-module.. Think what a professional software engineer could do..

  • Sorry to see 3dfx go, but they had great commercials! Found them on AdCritic.com: Damn entertaining!!!
  • Sigh... doesn't anyone spend 15 seconds on a search engine?

    Thanks for that. Even though you're perfect, it's nice to see the gods coming down to our human, fallible level.

    I recently replied in Slashdot to someone who couldn't find (IIRC) an nVIDIA TNT PCI card. I pointed this person to the Creative Labs site, said person kindly replied, pointing out that the card is no longer available.

  • 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

  • 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.


    FluX
    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • Really! I've been playing the latest 3d games with my matrox card for quite some time. Perhaps it's all been a hallucination! :(

    I said keep up, not be able to produce a product. The 3D market is very volitile; one year, you make the fastest / cheapest card and you're topping the sales charts, then the next, you're merging with another company because you can't hold your own.

    Matrox is in no danger of going under, 3D isn't their primary market. I respect Matrox since I've always thought of them as a quality company.

    I don't forsee them even leaving the 3D market, but if you're a gamer, the Matrox card isn't the best buy for your money. I've never seen any review that has suggested otherwise.. The main things that might persuade a hard-core-gamer to choose the Matrox card is their Dual monitor or large monitor support.

    That being said, any given business should probably opt for Matrox cards (due to quality, features and drivers for things other than games), so if you game-play at work, then Matrox is an obvious choice. But most of us don't get to choose the graphics cards at work (well, I do, but I bring my own machines to work).

    -Michael
  • 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!
    Regards,
    Alf
    3dfx"

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

  • I'll have to remember to ask tomorrow since I work at a Railroad. (In IT, so we never see trains)
  • 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.

    ------

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

  • 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.
  • 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.


    ETRN x
  • 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....:-)

    -Orty

  • 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.
  • Wrong.
    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.
  • by teg (97890)

    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.

  • 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?

    -Michael
  • 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.

    -Michael
  • 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.

    thad

  • 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
  • by atrowe (209484) on Tuesday November 14, 2000 @05:09PM (#623629)
    Actually, 3Dfx does support Linux. You can download Linux drivers for all 3dfx chipsets here [3dfxgamers.com]
  • by Stiletto (12066) on Tuesday November 14, 2000 @05:10PM (#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!
  • actually, you can just go to linux.3dfx.com [3dfx.com]

    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.


    FluX
    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • I'm sure they'll have no problem getting back in, provided that they don't have an EXCLUSIVE agreement w/ nVidia.

    Remember, these companyies already have the support/marketing model in place, they don't have to worry about 3D engineering, and (in theory) they're already making money at it. Adding another 'variant' should only help that picture...

  • Have you ever actually seen that thing? Its gigantic. It requires external power to work. No doubt it generates more heat then a Nuclear Reactor.

    Who would actually have bought the thing considering the cost (and considering that it still only really had 32mb of usable memory)?
  • 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.

    -Michael
  • by emmons (94632) on Tuesday November 14, 2000 @06:19PM (#623643) Homepage
    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.
  • 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?
  • by Ryokurin (74729) on Tuesday November 14, 2000 @05:12PM (#623651) Homepage
    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.
  • by derinax (93566) on Tuesday November 14, 2000 @05:15PM (#623653)
    The second point by ewhac [best.com] is a misreading of the AVault [avault.com] blurb on the cancellation of the V5-6000. Quantum 3D [quantum3d.com] 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

  • Seriously, who's going to order X amount of VSA-100 chips to produce X/4 amount of video cards? Nobody; it would be risking an insane loss of revenue, due to the sheer expense of the components. 3dfx saw this, and ditched the PCB part of their manufacturing process. By all definitions, they wussed out.

    3dfx has lost touch with the new developments of the 3D world. All 3dfx cards could only output in 16-bit and use 256x256 textures until the release of the V5 last year (okay, the Voodoo3 processed at 32-bit, then blended down to 16, but that's not the same as pure 32!). 3dfx has ignored the innovations of cube environment mapping and dot-product bump mapping, both of which were used in Q3 and will be used in the next DOOM project.

    To quote John Carmack on the issue of 3dfx: "It probably wouldn't be wise to buy a voodoo5 if you plan on keeping it for two years."

  • 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 :-)

  • 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

  • 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.)

Optimism is the content of small men in high places. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack Up"

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