|By many Comdex veterans, last year's Fall Comdex (1998) was considered to be more of a disappointment than previous shows in the eye catching Las Vegas area. In spite of its critics, Fall Comdex '98 did hold one very interesting product release that essentially sparked the uproar in the graphics card industry that is finally dying down.|
Seated in a glass display case lined with velvet, the first glimpse at what the Voodoo3 was going to look like. The 3dfx announcement came out of the blue and a number of Comdex attendees, present reviewer included, simply stumbled upon the chip while wandering away from VIA Technology's massive booth not more than 30 feet away.
At the Comdex announcement 3dfx (at the time they were known as 3Dfx, you all remember the big 'D' don't ya?) had announced two distinct versions of the Voodoo3, a 2000 and a 3000 model. The 2000 model was supposed to be clocked at 125MHz with 125MHz memory, and the 3000 model was supposed to be clocked at 183MHz with 183MHz memory. Just before its launch, due to relatively small performance differences between the previous generation Voodoo2 SLI setups and a 125MHz Voodoo3 in addition to high yields on Voodoo3 parts, 3dfx made the decision to up the clock speed of the 2000 to a more healthy 143MHz frequency. Unfortunately for users planning on buying the 3000 models, due to yield problems, the expensive price of 183MHz SDRAM and an unproven TNT2 product from NVIDIA, 3dfx dropped the clock on the 3000 model to 166MHz and promised a faster solution later on when such a move would be more viable.
Most users thought that the Voodoo3 3500 clocked at 183MHz with 183MHz memory would live up to the same fate as the 3dfx single card Voodoo2 SLI, and the 0.25 micron Banshee with TV-out. However at this year's E3 Expo 3dfx re-announced that the 3500 would be made available with a few new features that weren't in the original specifications for the card. Now targeted at the hard core gaming enthusiast with a desire for more multimedia features that your run-of-the-mill Voodoo3 or TNT2 equipped with TV-output won't give you.
3dfx finally started shipping the 3500 around 7 months after the first announcement for the Voodoo 3. Because of its support for TV-output as well as TV and FM input, the card is now officially called the Voodoo3 3500 TV and boasts a hefty $250 price tag, the only question that must be asked is whether or not it's worth it. At the release of the Voodoo3 and even the TNT2, the main point that we tried to convey was that both the Voodoo3 and TNT2 are intermediate solutions, they are essentially performance and feature upgrades to previous technologies and aren't based on revolutionary new cores. The "true" next generation graphics cards are due out this fall, and the real performance will come out of the solutions that debut in the next round.
So at the end of the road, when the smoke clears and only the winners are left standing where does the 3500 TV leave you?