From Voodoo to GeForce: The Awesome History of 3D Graphics

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Robgunny

Id like to thing that I know a little about being a geek but as I read through all these articles, I realize maybe I should stick to gunsmithing.

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JordanKing22

Thanks for posting

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JordanKing22

Killer post driving instructor training is my site but I appreciate the attention to detail with the 3d graphic chips here. Nice!

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u-r-a-johnson

Just wanted to add:

I just bought an nVidia 260, the soup-up by BFG for $129! I paid attention and got the Core 192 model just like the MaxPC article said to. Even in a slot gimped to 8x this thing is sweet. Eye candy in games. So much screen resolution sometimes I have to turn on the Magnifier to read things. I'm tempted to get a second, but by the time I get $1200 saved up (Core i7-920, a huge Thermaltake, Rampage II Extreme, DDR3, Win7 (Preorder-I'm using the RC now)) there'll be a new power-cheapie. For now I love it.

Rick

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u-r-a-johnson

Rick

I had one of those Rage 3d cards running in a P266 after some Waste of Flesh STOLE my Sony Vaio, and it was tolerable even in 2003! BTW: a good bud gave me both, and that was the last box I haven't hand-built thanx to MaxPC (primarily). I figured out how to install XP on the TINY HDD, and was golden from there: thanx to message boards.

Looking at that Old Rage 3d and thinking of playing Diablo 2 on it brings mixed feelings. Mostly that I had SOMETHING again, (just didn't have cash flow...) and guilt that I haven't talked to Dennis for too long. Now I'm saving up to buy a Core i-7 920 and Rampage II Extreme and should have that beauty perking over the 3.5 GHz line easy. *Ssssiiiighhhhhhhhhh*

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Paladin25

I miss my voodoo5 5500 now.  UT with glide...the classics.

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Lilrockerdude

I remeber the summer days playing Quake Unreal Command & Conquer and using some of these GPU's. The Vodoo 3 was one of my first than I stuck with ATI up till Nvidia hit the market. Been using them since Geforce2. Then I rememeber taking my 7900GTX and running everything no problems for the longest time. Then threw it out, throwing in an 8800...DAMN!!! the 7 to 8 seires was epic. It's just amazing how far graphic limitation has pushed its self year after year. Although I have to say the market has slowed because I remeber specs for one game being Geforce2 and then a month later a Geforce5 or better. Still running my 8800 but will wait for ATI or Nvidia to battle it out with Geforce300 or Radeon HD5000 to hit market before i take this bad boy out.

As for the coment about CPUs yeah CPUs have cooled off since the start of DualCore. I mean GPUs push themselves to new heights while CPUs shrink add a few cores and run. GPUs are the most important investment to make in a computer.

Just as a random thing to put in I love how people run $3000+ rigs and complain about GPU and CPU heat. I'm running a 4 year old HP with an AMD 4400+ with one 8800 GTX(stock cooling with a nice overclock) in 1280x1028 and my rig stays pretty chilly compared to other specs (and I live on the Gulf Coast of Texas which is the next hottest place to Arizona) I play every game (except Crysis at max no AA around 20fps) at max with 16x AA and still run 30fps or better for every game I own .  

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Jupiter7

That was a fun read even if a few of the pictures were off. It would have been nice though if the amount and type of memory were included in the specs for all the cards, i.e. 64MB of DDR RAM. For reference, inclusion of the price of the cards when they were released would have been a fun fact, but I guess if it was a high end it would be in the $400.00 and up range, not to mention the time it would take to look up that info. Not one mention of a 3Dlabs card. However a very enjoyable article that will stay in my favorites for ever.

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ZdProjects

That was a great read. It was also really informative. Good job MAX PC!

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jpules

great article. i've had this open for a couple of days and finally got back to finish it tonight. i moved on from gaming many moons back, when voodoos still ruled the roost, but now I feel i'm back with the zeitgeist. very interesting to see the progression of the technology over the years in terms of transistor counts, core and memory frequencies. along with CPUs, GPUs really were pushing the boundaries of what could be done in silicon foundries, and the gains they made due to such fierce competition are showing now with the somewhat true comments of the nvidia CEO that cpus are yesterday's news. however, you can't help but think the days of the biggest, hottest, fastest chip might be coming to an end with so many pcs sold these days being laptops, and netbooks especially, where the emphasis is not on bleeding edge of high performance tech. I'm sure it'll continue a little, but not as unabated as it was a decade or so ago.

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misterduffy

Well this feature sure brought back some old memories. I remember the Voodoo being hyped when it came out but was never in a position to own one. I worked in a computer shop and still remember the look of shock and disbelief on some kid's face when I told him a Voodoo card was £250. I hated nothing more than starting up a game that I knew had a 3dfx mode I couldn't use, Carmageddon being the main one. Over the years I've picked up old equipment here and there, building myself what would have been a ninja system in 1995. Presently it's got an Orchid-branded 3dfx card piggybacking a ViRGE VX/DX with the RAM maxed out. Good times.

It also made me remember the first time I played a DirectX game - it was a demo of 'The Hive' on Win95 - at the time the idea of playing games in Windows was still somewhat absurd. Gone were the days of tweaking autoexec.bat and config.sys to load as much as possible into upper memory! 

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GrayBeard707

There's a couple of smaller players that didn't even get an honorable mention. In the late 1990's and very early 2000's, both Evans and Sutherland and 3dLabs had lines of video cards that were superior to the offerings of that era from Nvidia and ATI.

The main reason these are so rarely heard about is that their target audience was very high end CAD / CAM applications, they were sufficiently expensive that they were out of the reach of most gamers.

As an example, at the time it was a mainstream card, one of these puppies could account for over half the cost of an entire system. No, I am not kidding. They had price tags between $1,000 and $1,500. The other reason that E&S cards were not a gamer staple was the fact that they had no Windows 9X drivers. This required NT 3.51 or NT 4 as your operating system. 3dlabs may have had 9x drivers, I'm not that sure.

Sadly, E&S rested on their laurels a bit too long, and were very slow getting their last line of cards out: the Real Image 5x00 series. By the time these reached the market, top end Nvidia cards, such as the Quadro series, were approaching graphics horsepower of the E&S cards.

I'm not so sure about the history of 3dlabs, but if their web page is anything to go by, they also got out of the graphics card business. Most likely for the same reasons, they had a very similar business model to E&S.

That said, a great article. It made me get all misty eyed for a moment. My first ever video card was 2D only, a vintage 1991 Trident offering with (if I remember correctly), 512 kbytes of memory. And no, don't ask me to cite the model number, because I don't remember.

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theriot72

What a great article.

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refuge9

They make mention of the ATi All In Wonder series, and it's start with the Radeon Rage 128, however, the All In Wonder series started with the Rage II+ as the 'ATi All In Wonder' followed up with the 'ATi All In Wonder Pro', which used a Rage Pro chip, and featured an upgradeable Memory system that took it from 4Mb to 8Mb.  Also, the First Radeon based All In Wonder wasn't the 7500, but the Radeon All In Wonder, then the Radeon 7000 All In Wonder VE, then the AIW 7500.  And there has been a AIW on every generation right up to the 1950XT based systems.  Some used downgraded chips, some didn't.  The AGP AIW x800XT was faster than the PCIe counterpart, because the PCIe version was a x800Pro.  The Radeon 9800 AIW was also another card with full feature GPU on board, without the downgrade, and was the first TV card that featured an all silicon based tuner, rather than the usual philips analog tuner found up to that point.

 

They also missed mention of the pre-ViRGE Chips from S3, such as the  928, which was commonly found in high end workstation video cards by diamond MM and Number 9, as well as the Number 9 'Revolution' range of chips.  (Revolution 3D and Revolution 4), as well has the 3D Labs (and later Creative Wildcat) series of cards.  The Rev3D and Rev4 failed mostly because of the prevalance of the GLIDE APIs.  They were highly competitive with DirectX, but it hadn't yet come into it's own by that point.

 

late '90s/early 200x  contained a LOT of comptetion in the 3D market.  Although I am extremely happy that PowerVR made it in the list, as they were a huge leap in thinking at the time, (So much so, that about 2 years ago, Intel licensed some of the technology for use in their larrabee chip) and such an underdog.

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aviaggio

was a Creative Graphics Blaster Exxtreme with a 3DLabs Permedia chip. In my then-naivete about 3D gaming I was persuaded by the liberal use of OpenGL on the packaging. Much to my dismay this card was anything but a gaming card -- it was more of a workstation card (which, btw, was NOT how it was portrayed by the packaging).

Anywho, it didn't take long for me to realize this thing was not going to play OpenGL games, and I quickly added a Voodoo 2 after doing some research this time around. And it wasn't long after I picked up another Voodoo 2 for SLI gaming goodness!

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CyyberSpaceCowboy

The first hot video cards were VESA Local Bus Windows Accelerators, like the ATI Mach32 (just like it sounds, they rendered panels in Windows 3.0 faster).  The first 3D cards all had different proprietary interfaces.  When PCI 3D cards came out a few months later, the games were still proprietary to the 3D chip, good luck buying any games other than the ones bundled with card, until "generic" API's like Glide and OpenGl came out.

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lightwave

1990, 3d Labs first board GLINT - at something like $4,000 was my first 3D board in a PC. And if I remember it correctly, it was on ISA bus...

 

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instant0

Hey, What about the Nvidia NV-1?

I used it to play specially made 3D games by SEGA for it, such as Virtua Fighter and Daytona.  It even let you use the SEGA Saturn Joypads. And it had Audio

Diamond MultiMedia sold cards based on this chip.

 

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dtritus

I loved my voodoo3...

 If only 3dfx had a better buisiness model....

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Kithera

Man Oh Man this was a trip down memory lane.

I remember having a trident card in my first computer, a 486, and struggling to get descent DOS VESA support in it for games like SimCity2.Thank God Warcraft 2 came with a descent universal DOS VESA driver.

 I also remember building my first personal (P2, 350MHz, around 1997) machine. I had to build it in parts as a Wendy's paycheck only went so far. Initially I got the Intel i740 above as a cheap stand in that could at least do some video. By the time I left high school that guy had a Riva TNT and a pair of Voodoo2's in it (all three were Canopus), as well as a seperate Creative Labs DVD Decoder card.A total of 3 pass through cables to finally get a signal to my monitor.

Iremember at the time Canopus really made some of the best videocards.Working to improve the native reference designs when everyone else was just slaping their labels on them.

 I also remember having to jump through hoops to get a lot of those early windows games to run nicely. Most notably for me was Final Fantasy 7 PC which would not (and still doesn't) render properly on nvidia hardware.

 As a side note, that was the last time I got top of the line video hardware. Since then I would often get  cheap second hard hardware from my friends when they would update. First a Geforce 4, then a 6600. Only recently when the 6600's fan failed and the chip melt did I finally actual buy a retail card, a "budget" 9800.

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tyler2k

On page 6, the blue board/heat sink card named as the "Kyro II" is actually the Hercules 3D Prophet III which was a nVidia GeForce 3 card, here's a better picture for proof.

http://www.activewin.com/reviews/hardware/graphics/hercules/3dprophetIII/images/box3dp3.jpg

I previously owned that card and instantly recognized that it was wrong.

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omega51541

yes

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Stever

Great article!  Not sure how I feel about being old enough to remember then all.  Yeesh.

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ilamir

Surprised I didn't see anything about the PowerVR chipsets in here.  They were a decent competitor for 3dfx in the late 90's in the 3D daughter card market.  I remember having a Matrox m3D paired with a Matrox G200 way back.

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Paul_Lilly

See pages 4 and 6.

-Paul Lilly

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punditguy

I remember stepping up from a Rage to a TNT2... Action Quake was like a whole new game.

Goddamn, I'm old.

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Preferred boot, but will give this Maximum PC thing a try.

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whpcguru

This "FUN FACT" is erroneous, QUOTE: Fun Fact: At roughly 10.5 inches long and weighing 740g, the GeForce 8800 GTX was the largest consumer graphics card ever made. As a result (of the length), many gamers found out that their existing PC case woudn't accomodate the longer videocard, while others had get creative and either bust out the dremel to mod drive cages, or remove a drive cage altogether. QUOTE

I personally owned the Dell OEM version of the EVGA 7950GX2. It is hands down the most massive card I've ever seen. I had to do some major shoe horning to get it to fit my full size tower case.  Here is a link to a toms hardware atricle on the cards

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://img.tomshardware.com/us/2006/06/05/geforce_7950_gx2/ruler.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-7950-gx2,1264-3.html&usg=__ncs1CvNH5otBAb0tOYRZQwTux8c=&h=351&w=425&sz=49&hl=en&start=27&sig2=Y4OznK8i0qo7BowjAvZBVA&um=1&tbnid=AzPQqli9Icmr7M:&tbnh=104&tbnw=126&prev=/images%3Fq%3D7950%2Bgx2%26ndsp%3D21%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7ADBS_en%26sa%3DN%26start%3D21%26um%3D1&ei=B6oSSu-dKZSU9gTkseCGBA

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jihnn

 

i retired a evga 7950 x2 just a couple months ago. there were days in the winter that i would leave the puter on just to keep my room warm.

i don't know if mine was just special or they all ran hot. i had 5 case fans cut a hole in the bottom of case under the x2 so cool air would be sucked up and around the card.

at the end i was running the puter with the side door off and a house fan blowing inside

nope not oc'd

l really learned to hate that card

the thermal past would dry out every so often and i would have to take the card apart and reapply it

 

now i have evga 260 ftw  card  problem solved

the x2 is now hanging from the ceiling of my workshop...... rip

 

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okron1k

excellent read, but it really needs to be proof read a couple more times. most notable was page 6. but i did notice some spelling and grammatical errors on almost every page. still an awesome read. i could read another 10 pages of this stuff :D

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aviaggio

Ditto. Don't you guys have spell check??? Not to be a stick in the mud but this degree of misspellings and grammatical errors is appaling for a legimate publication. Being a web article is no excuse!

Otherwise, it was a fun trip down memory lane. Ahhh, dual Voodoo 2s in SLI. Those were the days!

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deismanj

This is an Awesome article, but needed some further proofing.  And is it just me or is the picture for the Voodoo 1000 an S3 card instead?

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judgen

SiS Graphics made an awsome card Called the Xabre that came in a few different version that totally ripped on the much more expensive GeForce3 in many applications. And at only about 30usd it was a bargain.

I think you should add them to the list.

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457R4L

This brought me back to the days your magazine was called Boot.  I remember my first card in here being a ati pci rage pro and I installed a isa tv tuner that connected to it with a ribbon cable on a pentium 133MHz without MMX.  Next card was a geforce 256 oem from Micron when they were still builing PCs.  Next card was a hercules geforce 2 gts.  Then I had a laptop with a geforce 440 go which is basically a geforce 4400MX.  Today I'm happy with my 2 ATI HD3870 in crossfire.

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uncleck

I remember playing Deus Ex, Max Payne and Diablo II on my Voodoo5 5500 and thinking that that was the absolute pinnacle of gaming graphics. Good times, good times. . .

How disappointed I was when the realization came that I would never see the 6000 with 64MB(gasp!) VRAM.

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Vano

I didn't get it, how come Voodoo4 has better specs then Voodoo5?

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uncleck

Ah, but remember the Voodoo5 had TWO processors.  The Voodoo4 had but one.

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FrancesTheMute

the 9700 Pro was quite possibly the best video card ATI ever made.  That thing was scary powerful for its time

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smashingpumpin

Amen to that!. I've had the 9800 pro as my last AGP card which lasted for a while before requiring to upgrade to another card (i'm forced to move to pc-e anyways). You know a card is that good if it's still on demand on Ebay!

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he's pwning with a trackpad? oh really? oh reheheheeally?

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Pentium 0

can it play L4D? my friend needs a cheap card and 9800xl is $30 at tiger. Passmark ratings seem to rate it pretty high for its age.

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smashingpumpin

I no longer have the card with me to test so I'll just answer based on assumptions. Last games i remembered playing with it 2 yrs ago was CounterStrike Source, HL2 and others... with evrything set full on 1024x768 res.  on a pentium 4 2ghz and 1gb of ram. Knowing L4d uses an "updated" Source engine, your friend could most likely run it just fine with a mix of medium and low (especially on shadows) graphics settings with the same setup as mine or better (p4, 1gb ram). Google it, I'm pretty sure someone with a 9700-9800 setup is playing L4d with it. Goodluck

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he's pwning with a trackpad? oh really? oh reheheheeally?

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Pentium 0

Cool thanks a ton. 

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Citizen Snips

why is there a picture of a vacuum?

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pariuri sportive

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Peanut Fox

Because it sounds like someone put a leaf blower where the GPU should be. 

 

See Video

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYWaUJakMfg

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hades_2100

Because it sucked? :)

 

 

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MarctheDrifter

I wish they would have talked more about the Voodoo3, I mean, that was the video card to have at that time. I don't know anybody who didn't have one, and all they did was list some tech specs on it.

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