While NVIDIA decided to push the Hardware assisted T&L design, 3dfx decided to go the opposite route and center their next-gen product around the fillrate bottleneck. Building on the existing Voodoo technology, 3dfx announced the VSA-100 at Comdex on Nov. 15. The VSA-100 (Voodoo Scalable Architecture) chip was designed with scalability in mind. It was developed to work alone or in cooperation with up to 32 other VSA-100 chips. 3dfx has also listened to its users and given us 32-bit rendering, and AGP 4x compatibility, although the current cards do not take advantage of fast writes technology nor texturing from main memory (which has turned out to be a useless feature on any card). 3dfx has also given us a large line of products, Voodoo4 4500 is offered in both a PCI and AGP version, along with the Voodoo5 5000 PCI, Voodoo5 5500 AGP and Voodoo5 6000 AGP. Each of these cards have at least one VSA-100 chip, while the Voodoo5 5500 has 2 and the Voodoo5 6000 has 4, giving you between 337 and 1470 M/pixels of fill-rate. Clearly the some of the fastest cards on the market in this respect. Performance does have its price, while the lower end cards are expected to debut at a reasonable sub-200 USD price, the Voodoo5 6000 is expected to debut at approximately 600 USD, not for the average gamer.
AKTUEL 3DFX TEKNOLOGI
3dfx has also given us a few new “freebies” with their now open source FXT1 compression technology and T-Buffer effects, the Voodoo4/5 line of cards promises a new dimension in gaming. FXT1 is not the first compression technology out of the gate, while many give S3 that title with their S3TC, 3dfx actually came out with two compression techniques, 8-bit paletized textures as well as YUB Narrow Channel compression. FXT1 gives you an 8-to-1 compression ratio with little or no visual artifacts. This is truly an impressive accomplishment, developers can now store larger and more complex textures without worrying about taking up too much precious video RAM. The T-Buffer (named after Gary Tarolli, one of the founding fathers of 3dfx and developer of the T-Buffer) is nothing new in principle, it is essentially an accumulation buffer from OpenGL incorporated in 3dfx hardware, but with some twists that make it more efficient and cost effective in terms of silicon space. Silicon Graphics workstations have given us this ability for years, 3dfx has just brought it to the PC platform. With the T-Buffer comes added functionality with never before seen cinematic effects such as Depth of Field, Soft Shadows, and Motion Blur, with an added bonus of Full Scene Anti-Aliasing. The Voodoo 5 5500 AGP has been released and has proven to be quite competitive to NVIDIA's latest products.
PROBLEMER MED VOODOO5?
Many have heard about the other "tapeout" that occurred this summer, but it is nothing to get really excited about. The VSA-200 should be released shortly, but again it is not the performance part many were expecting. Instead this is simply a shrunk version of the VSA-100, but it has the 64 bit memory bus for the value market. It is unknown how this performs, or what speeds it will run at. Currently it is simply a low-power, budget graphics chip that may be able to utilize DDR SDRAM. Do not expect to see this product in retail, as it is squarely aimed at the OEM market. I was also disappointed with this, as I wanted the VSA-200 to be a high performance part with DDR support at a full 128 bits (eg. 200 Mhz V5 5500's with 200 Mhz SDR SDRAM and no external power connector nor active cooling).
3DFX RAMPAGE - KOMMENDE SUPERGRAFIKKORT
Not to be outdone, 3dfx’s next product dubbed Rampage has been in development for well over 24 months. Rampage will be the first non-Voodoo architecture chipset to come from the godfathers of 3D gaming, but sources at 3dfx have been tight lipped about this new project. What we can expect is a new breed of graphics chip. 3dfx has abandoned the classic Voodoo architecture and are trying something new. According to sources the Rampage will display new texture and blending modes (Pixel Shading), support for higher order surface modes, the 3dfx T-buffer, and of course transform and lighting. Due to the radical redesign, this chip will feature fewer transistors for each feature than previous chips, therefore we can expect the Rampage chip to weigh in at around 25 million transistors (a bit higher than they expected). This makes the T&L interesting, as we know that T&L adds a lot of complexity to a design. Sources have come out with information saying that Sage (Scalable Architecture Geometry Engine) is actually the separate T&L unit for use with the Rampage chipset. Sage will also be scalable, so more chips mean more performance. Rampage will also use the Voodoo Scaled Architecture, with each chip being about twice as fast as a VSA-100 chip (4 pixels/clock). Many have questioned the scaled geometry architecture, but 3DLabs has been doing this for years with their Delta Glint processors on high end graphics cards (each additional chip adds more geometry capabilities to a board). Rampage will be a complete redesign, and a much more efficient and fast design. Other suggestions place each Rampage chip to have 4 pixel pipelines, as well as the ability to perform pixel shading operations in conjunction with DX8. This will also give the ability to process 1 quad textured pixel per clock. Speed was always a goal with this chip, and here is where the 2+ years and half the R&D money have gone. While the VSA-100 will run at 166 on a .25E process, the Rampage will be able to run significantly faster (200 to 250 Mhz range) due to speed optimizations in the design and a likely die process shrink to .18 micron. 3dfx is doing what AMD and Intel have been doing for years, breaking down the architecture so that higher speeds can be achieved (the Athlon is a prime example of this). DDR SDRAM will be used exclusively with the Rampage due to its voracious appetite for bandwidth.
3DFX TEXTURE COMPUTER
The texturing features of Rampage are nothing less than impressive. 3dfx calls the texture unit the "Texture Computer" which will actually have a good deal of programmability to it. Rampage can do 8 layer texturing (in 2 clocks thanks to "loopback"), but due to the multi-sample nature of the chip, it possibly can do a four textured pixel with four subsamples in one clock, or an eight layered pixel with four subsamples in two clocks. This "Texture Computer" is quite flexible and will be able to do a lot of interesting tricks.
3DFX SAGE GEOMETRIPROCESSOR
Sage looks to be more powerful than initially thought. It will be the first programmable geometry engine for the consumer market, and looks to have phenomenal performance for a T&L unit. Each chip can process up to and possibly above 25 lights and something around 30 million triangles/sec. Remember, these chips are scalable, but we will not see a board with more than two on board (otherwise the bandwidth limitations of AGP would become too great as these chips would require incredible amounts of data to work effectively).
3DFX FEAR - EFTERFØLGEREN TIL RAMPAGE
Fear is the codename for the product after Rampage. This will be the first product from 3dfx that is a fusion of Rampage and GigaPixel technology. Here we will get the pixel shading operations, as well as the T-buffer effects, with the bandwidth saving technologies brought by GigaPixel. This will help to lower transistor count as well as be able to use cheaper memory due to lower bandwidth needs. This again will be scalable and will probably still use the programmable Sage geometry processor as a separate unit.
Og lidt om Nvidia NV20:
INFO OM NVIDIA NV20
The NV-20 is the product to be released in Spring 2001. NVIDIA has been very tight with information regarding the NV-20, but some information has leaked out. The NV-20 will most likely have a programmable T&L unit much like the Sage processor from 3dfx, but it comes at a huge cost. Many are expecting the NV-20 to consist of no less than 35 million transistors, and there are those that claim it will have up to 50 million transistors. This processor will be fully DX8 compliant, as the GeForce 2 GTS is no longer looking like the poster child for DX8. The Pixel Shaders will be much more impressive than those introduced on the original GeForce and continued with the GeForce 2 GTS, and it will support many new texturing formats (such as volumetric textures). It was initially thought this chip would be out in Fall of 2000, but due to the complexity and time constraints, NVIDIA postponed release of this chip until Spring of 2001.
Så Rampage og NV20 bliver nok en slags "Godzilla møder King Kong", når de udkommer til vinter/forår 2001...
HardwareTidende er en omfattende guide til optimal afvikling af computerspil på PC. Dette kræver viden om hardware såsom grafikkort, cpu'er, ram og meget mere. Du kan læse mere om konceptet bag HardwareTidende her: