Voodoo 5 Forum Q&A w/ 3dfx!

Voodoo 5 Forum Q&A w/ 3dfx! - Page 1

The 3dfx Voodoo 5 Run Down
A discussion with Alf Covey of 3dfx 
A transcript of the HotHardware Forum Section

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla

We are now officially in count down mode with the imminent release and launch of the 3dfx Voodoo 5, in a matter of weeks.  Over the past three weeks, the HotHardware forum has been buzzing with talk about this next generation of product from the company that many call  " The God Fathers of 3D".  3dfx has always maintained an accessible presence in the End User / Online community and it was no surprise when Alf Covey of 3dfx stopped by the HotHardware Conference Room with intentions to answers questions directly for all to see.  He was doing such a good job that we made him a moderator and let him have at it!  The following is a transcript of the discussion that have taken place in our forum.  There are many questions answered here and we are sure you'll learn something new in the following passages.  So without further hesitation, we'll let Alf and company tell it like it is!

Some messages are edited in the interest brevity.... 

From Nicolas:
I've got a question for Brian Burke. Namely, why is 3dfx doing such a god-awful job of evangelizing motion blur?

Every demo I've seen of motion blur, and every report I've read describes it as an effect where the result of the previous 3 frames is blended with the current frame to produce a sort of mouse-trails effect. AN EFFECT LIKE THIS IS TOTALLY POINTLESS. What motion blur *ought* to be doing (and what I suspect it actually does do, if implemented properly) is displaying a blend of images taken between frames. In other words it is a form of anti-aliasing by super-sampling, but in the time domain rather than the spatial domain. Or to put it a third way: it lets you display a frame rate faster than the refresh rate of your monitor.
Alf Responds:

Here's your answer from Brian Burke! :-)

"Well that is a lot to address, but I will do my best to hit each point.

We have been evangelizing motion blur with developers and end users for several months. Like a lot of hardware features, it will simply take time before games support it. We have completed the OPENGL extension for the T-Buffer, which then allows developers to implement motion blur in their titles. We also are confident that the T-Buffer capabilities will be included in a future version of Direct3D. As a side note, we were very pleased to see Microsoft discuss FSAA and motion blur as features of the X box, as this reaffirms our belief that these are critical features for real-time 3D in the future.

The appearance of motion blur as mouse trails is due to the fact that we exaggerated the effects in our Quake 3 demo to show how the technology works. It was clearly pointed out that it was a technology demo, not an artistic rendering. Lots of things can be done to make the effect more realistic, like adjusting the intensity of the blur or the distance for each rendering of the object. Quake 3 is probably not the best place for motion blur anyway. A Racing sim would be a more appropriate use. The reason the demo was for Quake 3 is because the folks at id gave us the source code and said, in a effect ?You say motion blur is useful, then show us. ?

As for the difference between a camera lens and a computer display, we go into that in detail in the T-buffer white paper that can be found here http://www.3dfx.com/3dfxTechnology/motionblur.html.
We also covered it in detail in our press meetings.

As for your description of how we implement motion blur using the T-Buffer it is simply incorrect - we are definitely not simply taking the average of the last 3 frames. Within a given frame, we render each moving object (where a ?moving object? is an object which is moving relative to the camera position and its own movement) up to 4 times and temporally stagger the images slightly to generate motion blur. There are other methods to accomplish a similar effect, but the above is the method we use. "

From Skot:
The Voodoo3 has one pixel pipeline with two texture units. When a single textured pixel is rendered, one texture unit shuts down. When a dual textured pixel is rendered both texture units are on.

Correct me if I'm wrong about this 3dfx. It is popularly believed that the VSA-100 has two pixel pipes with one texture unit each, but I don't think that this is the case. The VSA-100 has one pixel pipeline with two texture units, but can shove two single textured pixels down the pipe at once, or one mulittextured pixel. That's why the fill rate for the V5-5500 is approx. 733Mtexels/s and 733Mpixels/s.

My question... Will the V5 be able to do trilinear filtering for "free"?

Alf says:
The VSA-100 takes 2 textures in order to do trilinear filtering.

From Amlet:
5will the V4s and V5s be optimized for athlons too?  From what I've seen, V3s work better with athlons than P3s and plus athlons generally come with more mhz for the price

Alf says:
We maintain a close relationship with both companies and make all optimizations we can for both platforms.

From Ballsy:

P2 400
(note to Ballsy - stop shouting dude :) )

Alf says:
1.  The Voodoo5 should be one of the fastest boards you could get for that system.
2.  AGP2X is not going to half your results.  In fact, it probably won?t even affect it.

From Sinpusher:
I've heard that the new Voodoo cards will have a separate, external power supply to avoid potential problems with motherboard makers not following the AGP voltage specs. This is an extremely good idea in my opinion, but I have one serious concern about this. I have a UPS system (Tripplite rules baby!) with 6 connectors, 3 are on battery backup, and 3 are on standard power and surge protected. I have my tower, monitor and modem taking up the 3 plugs on the battery, if I choose to put the V5 on a plug that is NOT on the battery and the power goes out, will it kill the card and possibly my computer if the card suddenly receives no power while the rest of the computer does? It's not a big deal to move my modem over to a non-battery plug, but I think it's an issue I needed to bring up anyways. Has 3dfx considered the possibility of making the card switch over to the motherboard for power in the event something happens to the external power supply (such as the cable getting knocked out of the plug, the cable getting severed, or the situation I just mentioned).

From The Alfster:
Thanks for the support up front!  The 5500 will have an internal power connector just like a hard drive.  The 6000 will have the external adapter and as far as I know, that should protect it from surges and the like.  If anything should happen the most probably outcome is simply that the video will go down.  BMG had a good idea for a solution to this dilemma. 

I went to the pre-release site today and it asks for a 6-8 week lead time!?!
(from the on-line 3dfx store)
Would it be better to go to the Austin CompUSA or Best Buy rather than the pre-sales route if I want to get the V5500 the soonest?

Alfness says:
Voodoo 5 products will be made available to all consumers who place a pre-order with one of 3dfx' authorized pre-order program participants on the same day regardless of where they chose to preorder from. We are scheduled to ship to retailers in the same time frame. So it is probably going to be just a matter of what is more conveininet to you since it will largely be at the same time.

Diseaseboy asks:
I have saved up my money since you announced this card. How much longer after the Voodoo5 5500 ships will we see the 6000?

Alf-a-Roonie responds:
Just deleted my old post so I could make an update. It's going to be around a month after the 5500 is released but again I don't have anything more concrete than that.

Shark (no not the Brittish Hooker with agonizingly long reviews)  asks:
1. Can motion blur be used to "fool" the eye into seeing fluid motion even when fps have momentarily dipped below normally acceptable levels? If it's possible, would this be practical from a software developer's perspective? I mean, is this much use of the motion blur effect so tedious to program that we won't see motion blur used for more than token effects around fast moving objects etc.? I realize you gave an answer to a question similar to this, but the answer centered around how motion blur works... I just want to know if it can be used to create the impression of fluid motion for an entire scene even when frame rates drop below normally acceptable levels.
2. It is my understanding that the V4 will be out first. Is it possible that the V4 will ship at 166 MHz, but, as chip yields improve, the later released V5 series could come at 183 MHz?
3. Why the heck does 3dfx send their cards out at 1.3 gamma? I think this has given them a lot of negative attention, causing people to think that they are getting faded colors due to the 16 bit rendering, when, in fact, color depth doesn't affect color saturation, only gradation. Gamma, however, *will* affect color saturation.
4. I really dug the way 3dfx attached their heat-sinks on the V3. The pushpins were awesome, because they let those of us not concerned with warranty have a simple way to attach more cooling. Also, the thermal pad, while not the greatest performer, was a superior solution to those companies that just slapped a gob of glue on (which would be just about every one BUT 3dfx). Please tell me you guys are not going to do change that??

Also, I just want to say that I'm pretty stoked about the new color filter, especially the backwards compatibility part. I never even considered the idea of the V4/5 making my current V3 look better!

Alf takes a big breath and says:
1. It will all depend on the complexity of the given scene and the techniques used by the game developer. It's motion blur that enables movie film to deliver smooth action to the screen at just 24fps, a frame rate that is generally considered unacceptable for 3D gaming. Motion blur certainly requires additional system resources. The vertices in each object being blurred have to be calculated multiple times and motion blur requires additional fill rate, too. The challenge that your suggestion presents, however, is that you're already in a situation where the frame rate is unacceptable and you're asking for additional system resources as part of the solution. A developer would probably be better served by reducing scene complexity to increase frame rate than by implementing motion blur on all objects to create smooth motion.
2. The Voodoo5 5500 is going to come out first. I really can't make any predictions as far as the rest goes.

3. We sent it out at 1.3 because when our default setting was 1.0, we were overwhelmed with complaints and demands to make it higher. Since it's been 1.3, people seem to be generally happy and that's the name of the game, after all. ;-)

4. Sorry, it's getting changed. It's a good design when you just have a heatsink to contend with but the Voodoo5 will have an active cooling solution.

6. (okay... you didn't have six but this is from your other post) There will be an improved filtering setting (like the 22 bit setting for the V3) for the Voodoo5.

Hope this got them for ya! :-)

From Darkshadow:
I have a question regarding MINIGL support on the Voodoo5. Currently with Voodoo3, you need to use the 3DFX Minigl (v1.48 or v1.49) or the WickedGL Minigl to get DECENT/GREAT performance in games like Quake/Quake2, Half-Life, etc. Otherwise the only other choice is the Opengl ICD which is VERY slow compared to the MINIGL's.

Will Voodoo5 have it's own MINIGL .DLL driver for the above mentioned games, or will the 3DFX V3 Minigl/Wicked3D MINIGL, work with the Voodoo5?

Alf bestows this:
As you can see from current trends, MiniGL is becoming a thing of the past. However, the Voodoo5 should have the same type of setup the Voodoo3 had in that respect. As for if the WickedGL driver will work or not, we'll have to wait on that one. :-)

From Rookievx1:
Since the announced release of a PCI Voodoo 5 5500 for Mac's will have a fill rate of 667 megatexels/megapixels. Does this confirm the clock speed of 166Mhz?

What's it all about Alfy?
166MHz is what we're looking at right now. If anything changes, we will make an announcement.
SteveM asks:
What is the physical length of the V5 5500 card?

Alf sizes it up:
The V5-5500 AGP is 4.25" x 9.5" and it will fit in a regular AT or ATX case (assuming AT and ATX specs were followed).

Fury Asks:
With the current support of SMP in NT4 and Win2k (or, rather,lack there of) in the state it is. I was curious as to whether the drivers for Win2k/NT will be support SMP from boards such as Abit's BP6.
Will SMP be included in the drivers?

Alf says:
We're looking into SMP on the Voodoo5 currently. The drivers will be backwards compatible with the Voodoo3 as well.

That's it for now!  There is a lot more of this type of Q&A in the HotHardware Conference Room!  Join today!



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Tags:  3D, 3dfx, voodoo, fx, forum

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