Looking Back at 2000 Part 2: The Graphics Industryby Anand Lal Shimpi on January 4, 2001 2:45 AM EST
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Although the CPU industry has definitely increased in competitive levels over the past year it cannot compare to the undoubtedly cutthroat competition that is present in the graphics core logic market.
The graphics industry was not always this bad - if you remember, it was not too long ago that 3dfx, Matrox, NVIDIA and S3 all had competing solutions out in the market, all of which provided a fairly competitive, yet livable environment for both the consumers and the manufacturers.
However a major change occurred, driven by the extremely aggressive nature of one manufacturer in particular, that has changed the face of the graphics industry going into the new year. Leading up to that point, was a very bumpy road for many of these companies.
The transition of the market from 2D accelerators to actual 3D accelerators was what caught the initial kings of the industry off guard. Seemingly overnight, we saw the fall of ATI, Matrox and S3 from the top of the market, to the very bottom. Not necessarily in market share, but in the eyes of the public which would lead to the loss of control.
The company that came in out of nowhere and took the industry by surprise was 3dfx, a manufacturer with no real track record and a single product under their belt, the Voodoo graphics chip. 3dfx's solution wasn't even capable of 2D acceleration, an early indication of where the market was concerned with performance. What the original Voodoo did provide was exactly what the gaming market wanted - 3D performance at $300 or less.
Shortly after the introduction of the Voodoo came competing solutions from the little known creator of the NV1, NVIDIA. And before the end of 1998, Matrox and S3 had also released their comeback-kid parts, aimed at getting themselves back into the graphics market.
Eventually, ATI joined the quest for the fastest 3D accelerator on the planet, however we feared that they had entered the game a little too late, with their Rage 128 solution not hitting the streets until early 1999.
Looking at the way in which this 3D revolution was started in the brief overview we just presented, you would assume that 3dfx and maybe S3 and Matrox would be on top of the market currently. As we very well know, that is definitely not the case. 3dfx is on the path to closing their doors, S3 has pulled out of the add-in graphics card market, and Matrox has publicly stated that they are not pursuing the 3D gaming scene currently.
So what led up to the situation we are in today? And what will this New Year hold for the market? Let's find out as we conclude our look back at the year 2000 with an analysis of the graphics industry.