The cruellest thing about the whole 3dfx return trap is that we are all desperate for it to be true. At a time when it is certainly as difficult as it has always been to buy a new graphics card, the idea of having another option is tempting. That’s why we all want to see what Intel Xe DG2 discrete cards can really offer, and why the former CPU maker should be able to move forward and hit the market.
So when @ 3dfxofficial appeared on Twitter last week promising that "3dfx Interactive will be back, 20 years later," there was a mixture of disbelief and protected emotion. It triggered an announcement for August 5, but with nothing more than one Twitter slideshow which reads like a misinterpretation of the Shark Tank (or Dragon's Den, for my UK droogs), I think we can now be pretty sure we won't get a new range of Voodoo graphics accelerators.
No matter what you say about working on “3dfx Voodoo 6 PCI” products to introduce in “CEC 2022”, we are unlikely to see anything like a new graphics card in the Council for Exceptional Children Conference in January. Or even the Consumer Electronics Show, for that matter.
But what if it had been true? What if, by some miracle, a band of super-intelligent engineers came together to forge a new 3dfx Interactive? For those who are too young to remember what 3dfx means for PC gamers of a certain age, it basically made possible the world of 3D gaming that we take for granted today.
In the late ’90s, your PC graphics card was a very two-dimensional affair, with the pixelated world of Doom and Hexen almost as 3D as you could get. When we released Quake & # 39; s real 3D graphics in the mix that your Matrox Mystique 2D / 3D card struggled to achieve a reproducible frame rate.
So enter the 3D accelerator. A secondary circuit board to accompany the normal 2D graphics card, connected via a pass cable to the monitor. 3dfx Voodoo cards were a revelation, adding texture and fluidity to truly three-dimensional worlds that simply couldn’t be played before.
When Quake 2 and Voodoo 2 appeared in 97 and 98 respectively, 3dfx had consolidated its place in the market as an accelerator board for PC gamers. Although only temporarily, because then Microsoft went and ruined things by introducing the universal Direct3D API that any GPU manufacturer could use, and suddenly the 3dfx offering lost much of its value. .
To the point that Nvidia settled in when the new millennium arrived, bought all of its intellectual property and left it to file for bankruptcy a few years later.
There is potential that Nvidia's 3dfx trademarks have expired and that some Jansen Investments companies have acquired the rights to them. And if those rights were really tied to some disturbing new GPU technology, on the same level as the original Voodoo cards, we would be on a wild journey.
A kind of GPU accelerator, a complementary board that could increase the power of your existing graphics card, could change the game of a world where upgrading the entire GPU is more expensive than ever. Being able to drop an affordable new card into your system and get higher frame rates without dropping your old GPU in the trash would be good for gamers and letting a lot of silicon get on the grid.
What if 3dfx had introduced a ray tracing accelerator? What if the new Voodoo 6 PCI was a board with a bit of smart silicon that could perform the same volume-delimited hierarchy shiz that Nvidia’s RT cores do, but often the speed? A secondary board that could download the work, speed up the whole process, could have been a big deal.
Although it's also pretty tricky to work in any way that doesn't introduce a lot of latency and a lot of other technical issues … but whatever.
And, to be fair, the last time something like this happened, with the physics accelerator cards in the Ageia PhysX game, Nvidia reappeared, bought the company and the IP, and then swallowed the technology. on their own GPUs that scribbled the original. discrete hardware.
Unless Twitter 3dfx trolling miraculously produces real silicon at CEC 2022 – and exceptional kids get to play Battlefield 2042 at an unprecedented frame rate – the dream of adding more GPU makers to the market is safe.
Except this thing of scheduled tweets I found in Buffer's background means something …