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.