It has been 6 months since we last wrote about 3dfx, and that before 3dfx had even seen their own next-generation part in action.  3dfx’s Voodoo Scalable Architecture (VSA) was supposed to have debuted around the time of NVIDIA’s GeForce, which has been effectively dominating the high end gaming market ever since its release last October. 

The first generation VSA part, the VSA-100 based Voodoo 4 and Voodoo5 products, would have completely dominated the market had they been released on the day they were announced at last year’s Fall Comdex in Las Vegas.  Unfortunately for 3dfx but fortunately for their competitors (particularly NVIDIA), because of unnamed delays the first VSA-100 products were delayed until sometime in 2000.  Whether this was a signal that 3dfx could not keep up with NVIDIA’s very aggressive and somewhat silly 6-month product cycles or simply just an unpredictable, unavoidable problem 3dfx ran into during the development of their complex product isn’t really our major concern --then, what is our major concern? 

The Voodoo 4 and Voodoo5 cards are almost upon us and it won’t be much longer until they are available for purchase in the retail channels.  Just as it was with the Voodoo3 launch, it seems as if 3dfx will be the first out the door with their new product for this year.  The V4/V5 are still very new parts; if you recall, it wasn’t until early this year that 3dfx actually had a working revision of the VSA-100 silicon to begin to play with. 

3dfx began showing off that they actually had VSA-100 silicon at a number of tradeshows, including at this year’s CeBIT in Hannover, Germany.  Unfortunately, these demonstrations, in spite of being run just about two months ago, were run on pre-production Voodoo4/5 boards that ran at a core clock speed of around 100MHz, which obviously didn’t portray the best performance.  Then again, from 3dfx’s standpoint, all they really wanted to do was show off their major features, Motion Blur and Full Scene Spatial Anti-Aliasing (or just Full Scene Anti-Aliasing for short - FSAA), both made possible courtesy of 3dfx’s T-Buffer. 

In a recent visit to AnandTech, 3dfx brought with them a pre-production Voodoo 5 5500 (AGP), clocked very close to the final shipping clock speed of the product.  While we weren’t told the exact clock speed of the sample they brought with them, it can be estimated to be around 160MHz, and since the core/memory clock on all Voodoo boards is synchronous, we can conclude that the memory was running at that speed as well.

This brief preview is not designed to be an overview of 3dfx’s T-Buffer technology; if you are unfamiliar with T-Buffer or want to know more about how it works then check out our T-Buffer Technology Overview. Also be sure to look at our Voodoo 4/5 Preview from last year's Fall Comdex 99.

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