Voodoo 5

Voodoo 5 - Page 1

The 3dfx Voodoo 5 Incarnate
Up close and personal with 3dfx's next generation product

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla and Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta


We packed our gear...  Digicam, Notebooks, Laptop, Breath Spray, Cheeze Wiz, Rolaids... all the stuff that a good journalist should come prepared with to any important Tech Conference.  We were headed to the Big Apple, New York City.  This was a "Power Meeting" and we were ready.  We met down town at the Intercontinental.  The guys from 3dfx travel in style.  Marco kept trying to tip the Doorman but the Cheeze Wiz wasn't going over too well.  Room 623, we knocked on the door.  "Hey man, you got the stuff?" comes from a gruff voice inside the room.  Stuff?  Umm, yeah we've got "The Wiz" man....  (Marco issues a firm dope slap upside Dave's head)  Uhh, never mind, wrong room...

OH!! Room 326!!! (woops)  We try another rap on this door and we are greeted by none other than the 3dfx PR Supa-Freak, Brian Burke!  We step inside the well appointed Field Tech-Pad of the man himself.  We're offered a libation, some beer nuts and a comfortable seat.  The atmosphere is cool and relaxed.

After saying hello and a few minutes of small talk, Brian whips it out....

We're talking about the Voodoo 5 - 5500 of course!
(click image for full view)

- 64MB of SDRAM -
- T-Buffer Effects Enabled - 
- Motion Blur, Depth of Field Blur, Soft Shadows and Reflections -
- 667-733 Megapixel Fill Rate -
 - AGP 2X / 4X -
- Full Scene Hardware Supported Anti-Aliasing -
- FXT1 and Direct X Texture Compression -
- 32 Bit Color Rendering, 32 Bit Textures, 2KX2K Texture Resolution -
- Integrated 350MHz RAMDAC and Hardware DVD Assist -

Damn, that looks good doesn't it? OK, it was time to get serious here.  We were gazing upon  two VSA-100 chips and 64MB of High Speed Synch DRAM ready to rumble on the AGP bus.  Take a look at the extra power connector up in the top right area of the board.  This baby is hungry and 3dfx wanted to make sure it is fed with its own clean and abundant power source.

The extra power connector has been frowned upon by a few people in the hardware community and we just don't get why they're miffed.  Since the onset of more powerful, more capable graphics processors, some end users have had problems with power being supplied to these new boards from the AGP slot on quite a few motherboards.  This problem WAS NOT caused by the makers of the graphics boards!   It was caused by motherboard manufactures cutting corners using cheap voltage regulators versus Switching types with clean and powerful signals.  3dfx has taken the question of whether or not your board can supply enough power out of the equation.  They fixed a major concern with a fairly simple, VERY cost effective, approach and some people just aren't seeing it.  We tip our hats to 3dfx on this.   One less thing to diagnose.


The flip side was also a fairly clean design.  We got the impression that we are getting very to close to release candidate material here.  Without disclosing the speed of the board we saw (because PT gave us a "You didn't see that" when clicking though the driver menus), we can say it's clocked MUCH higher than the 100mhz boards many saw at other product showings.  Our gut instinct tells us that the .25 micron, six layer metal process was a good architecture to work with. It may not be bleeding edge but it is a "mature" process and yields will be high out of the gate.  3dfx still hasn't settled on a default speed on these VSA-100 powered boards either.  We MAY be looking at V4's and V5's clocked at a default of 183MHz...but again, no decision has been made. 

One more thing I would like to add (BigWop here), when I glanced over to Peter and asked about overclockability, all I got was a nod and a smile.  :)  None of the guys would officially comment, but the outlook seems bright.  With the 2 pixels per clock that the VSA-100 is capable of, every 1mhz increment means a 2 Mpixles/Sec fill rate increase...and every little bit counts the higher you set your resolution.

Marco, set the pick and I dove for the card.  Just then the door flew open and PT Barnum stepped in.  In the event that you haven't heard of PT or met him before, allow us to inform you that PT is a rather large gentleman.  He stands about 6' 8" (made the BigWop look like a little Wop....) I backed down sheepishly and made some excuse about just wanting to get another close up shot.  "Hi PT!  Good to meet you buddy!" :) (remind us not to mess with PT)  Behind PT came the brains behind the brawn of 3dfx, Director of Product Marketing, Peter Wicher.  Peter sat us back down and gave us the "nickel tour" of his new baby, the Voodoo5.


Isn't that 32MB per VSA chip not really a total of 64MB?  Guess again...


Tags:  3dfx, voodoo

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