3dfx Voodoo4 4500 & Voodoo5 5500 Previewby Anand Lal Shimpi on April 24, 2000 3:05 AM EST
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For the past few months the focus of the industry has pretty much been exclusively on the desktop microprocessor market. With the megahertz and, just recently, the gigahertz wars occupying most of the publication space online, it is refreshing to see that die down for a bit and the graphics war heat up yet again.
Just about one year ago, the furious 3dfx versus NVIDIA debates began erupting because of the release of the Voodoo3 and the TNT2. While 3dfx chose to focus on fill rate and the resulting frame rate, NVIDIA chose to focus on adding playable 32-bit color support to their TNT (while the TNT supported 32-bit color rendering, a lack of memory bandwidth kept it from being a truly playable solution). The lack of any support for 32-bit color rendering left 3dfx with quite a bit of flack from NVIDIA supporters even though, at the time, most games didn’t really benefit from switching to 32-bit color rendering.
Six months later, both 3dfx and NVIDIA were scheduled to release their next-generation parts, and once again, there was a fine dividing line between what 3dfx’s goals were and what NVIDIA’s goals were in terms of implementing features. NVIDIA felt that it was time for the graphics card to take some of the load off of the host CPU by performing all of the transforming & lighting calculations on-board instead of on the host CPU, while 3dfx felt that hardware T&L wasn’t worth focusing on because there was still a need for greater fill rates and other features.
Today, no one can honestly say that NVIDIA’s hardware T&L really made a difference in their gaming experience because the games that would truly take advantage of a hardware T&L engine were not out at the time the GeForce was released and are only now beginning to appear. Nevertheless, it won’t be until later this year that a large number of games will begin to take advantage of hardware T&L.
Chances are, that if 3dfx released their next-generation Voodoo4/5 parts alongside NVIDIA’s GeForce as planned, the GeForce wouldn’t have grown to become the gaming card of choice. But, although 3dfx was adamantly denouncing hardware T&L as an unnecessary feature for the time being, the GeForce was racking up sales and the Voodoo4/5 had yet to be seen.
As painful as it was for them to admit, 3dfx had no part that could compete with the GeForce. Things have changed quite a bit during the past 6 months, and while the market eagerly awaits the successor to the current gaming card of choice from NVIDIA, 3dfx is finally ready to bring the Voodoo4/5 to the table.
It will be a couple more weeks until you will see a final review of the Voodoo4/5, and although we usually don’t like doing too many previews on a single product, this time around we are armed with much more to show you than a few screenshots and promises of an amazing product.
We’ll save in-depth talk about T-Buffer and the features of the Voodoo4/5 for the final review of the product and make this preview more of an indication of what to expect from the Voodoo4/5.