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OpenGL_Guru

3DFx + GLIDE - The Life and Death.

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what year was 3Dfx introduced? i thought i would start a little thread b/c i havent found out and cant get anyone to tell me why 3DFx crashed and burned in or around the summer of 1999, which was about the same time i purchased a 16MB Voodoo3 3DFx card. Still around 2000 i can remember 3Dfx cards and Voodoo 4, 5, & 6 being still mainstream and sold and Glide still supported and almost required on most PC games. Meanwhile Nvidia was buying them out. so how did this happen with 3dFx at the time being the mammoth of a 3D card manufacturer as they were, or did they just sell their technology to other card manfacturers such as ATI and Nvidia.? did DirectX replace Glide? what was wrong with Glide at the time? or was it OPenGL taking over 3Dfx? or was it both? anyway i STILL have my 3Dfx card, and i have to admit sometimes its still fun to whip up the old 500Mhz processor with my 16MB Voodoo 3. kinda like still going back and playing NES and Atari games. anyway i would love to hear back from you and what your thoughts or answers to cause of what could have been a 3D product to keep in step with ATI and Nvidia today and maybe a little more competition to go around. [edited by - opengl_guru on December 15, 2003 12:35:01 PM]

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I don''t know about the corporate machinations that went on, but Glide wasn''t replaced by Direct3D or OpenGL.

Glide was a proprietary API for 3Dfx cards, it was much more low-level than OGL or D3D (or at least felt that way). That has some good points and bad points, but mostly I think the management done by OpenGL/Direct3D drivers is worth Glide dying. Also don''t forget OGL & D3D have been accelerated on Voodoo cards since GLQuake (although perhaps not D3D since it was still at the crappy 6 stage, and it wasn''t a full OGL implementation).

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Guest Anonymous Poster
did you say voodoo 6?

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yes, A.Poster, Voodoo 6. i remember going into Electronics Boutique to buy my video card, and there stood before me, a Voodoo 3, Voodoo 3 Extreme, Voodoo 4, Voodoo 5 and Voodoo 6. I imagine Voodoo 6(now in hindsight looking back) was nothing more than Voodoo 5 "enhanced" as 3dfx was trying to make some money but not sure about that. hmmm wonder if i could find some nice Voodoo 5 and 6 cards out there on Ebay lol.

what i want to know that even at the lower level did Glide not have certain capabilities through 3dfx that OGL and Direct3D/X had? obviously something had to give. i remember though those high end Voodoo Cards being really expensive. my 16MB Voodoo 3 was about $150, from there the price exponentially went up.

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nope, there was definately no voodoo6

what you might mean is that the voodoo5 was actually a voodoo4 with 2 gpu''s (if you can call those a gpu )

there was much talk though about voodoo6 and beyond as the voodoo4 chips were said to be scaleable up to 128 on a !SINGLE! board (now imagine that ) via a technique similar to sli (the voodoo2 had this, you could basically hook together 2 of them and have their rendering speed roughly doubled, and inchrease their max resolution up to 1024x768 which was really high back then)

but the only card beyond a voodoo5 (2 gpu''s) i remember (which was at least produced not talked about, yet i have to see atleast one of them) was some sort of enhanced voodoo5 with 4 gpu''s. afaik it was not marketed as voodoo6.

the reason 3dfx went under was imho the focus on quality vs. speed (t-buffer anyone?) whereas nvidia (coming up a bit after voodoo2 with their tnt, their first usable 3d accelerator) just went for pure speed (just look at the masses, they mostly buy on speed and price no one cared for that motion blur/antialiasing/depth insharpness (is that a word??), which are THE buzzwords coming out today which the voodoo4/5 had already back then).

and glide died for the fact that it was bound to 3dfx cards. i don''t remember it as beeing that much more low level than ogl but this might be because i started 3d programming with glide and was quite not experienced to do much more than basic textured tri drawing.

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yeah maybe i was thinking of voodoo 5 enhanced, but i swear i saw boxes at EB that said Voodoo 6. hmmmm. so things brings a good question.. how come NVIDIA hasnt taken some of 3dfx''s solutions and ideas and used them? why not continue the quest to where you can hook up 2 cards together to effectively get double speed? i know that cards are fast now but it just seems like NVIDIA didnt adopt some of the 3dfx solutions. just imagine if 3dfx would have survived..i believe they would be as big as ATI and NVIDIA. i have been reading more and 3dfx was ahead of the game up until the "last minute" in terms of customer base and graphics power. thus the prices on cards might be lower. just imagine having to choose between 3 cards instead of 2. i will keep my voodoo 3 til it dies..just like my NES and Atari 2600. one of the things i read was that 3dfx died out b/c it failed miserably to keep up sales while the cards kept being shipped out and at the same time were outselling NVIDIA and ATI on a ratio of 2:1. guess you have look to business and management decision making if you want to get down to the nitty gritty details.

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There can only be one AGP port in a system, and it can only really have one device on it, which is why there is no SLI AGP setup that I know of.

The only way you could pull one off would be to stuff both GPU''s onto one card, and the memory backend would probably suffer a bit unless you flat out doubled it again, at which point you''re looking at a half gig of stupid fast ram plus two rather large GPU''s that dump out a whole lotta watts.

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Whatever the cause, the end of 3dfx is one of the sadder stories in the history of computer technology. There have been many other instances in the past when bad business decisions have sunk a better platform (Mac OS vs.DOS, Betamax vs. VHS). This is just the latest of them. What makes it so sad is that to this day Glide is still the best gaming API ever developed. A Glide game running on a Voodoo 5 with 2x FSAA on a fast computer is unmatched by anything nVidia or ATI can do through Direct X. Sad. that is just my opinion and before you start the flaming notice that i am trying to say that if Glide+3Dfx were to survive today ATI and NVIDIA would have their hands full in terms of competition. A LOT of Nvidias technology on their cards and architecture still to this day stems from the 3dfx line. If 3dfx wouldnt have bought out STB and focused on the hard core gamer i believe things would be a LOT different today.

--but guess what? even though 3dfx is dead as a company you can still get updated drivers from voodoo and 3rd party vendors. i found a cool site and am going to update my voodoo 3 and voodoo 5 cards to see if i get a better performance out of them. hey... at least still to date NO and i mean NO NVIDIA card renders 2D better than anything from a Voodoo 3 and up.


[edited by - opengl_guru on December 15, 2003 7:50:34 PM]

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As I recall, back in 98 I had to write my own triangle clip routines to get Glide working the way I needed it to. But once it was working, it was crystal smooth. I was rather proud of it, but bitterly let it go as the rest of the industry slowly let it sink and die.

I recall any game that ran with Glide almost always ran more smoothly for me.

Some of us programmers are so convinced that what we believe in will have its value noticed by others eventually. So, we stick with it. Alas, Glide never recovered. You either go down with it, or move on.

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