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Краткое содержание статьи: Comdex is now over for more than a week and looking back at it doesn't leave many exciting memories

Tom's Look Back at Comdex 1998


Редакция THG,  30 ноября 1998
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Introduction

Comdex is now over for more than a week and looking back at it doesn't leave many exciting memories. It certainly wasn't the big show it used to be and there wasn't much outstanding, particularly in terms of PC hardware. Companies like IBM, Intel, Compaq or Dell could not even be bothered to have a booth at Comdex this year and so you could hear the question 'Is Comdex going down?' all over the place. The other comment you could hear very often was 'well, the hardware has obviously outran the software'. I don't quite agree with that, but it seems a matter of fact that there have to be new ways of bringing computer to the people. This also requires new software, and I could imagine that this challenge could be a great chance for new software companies winning ground versus Microsoft.

3Dfx

The week of Comdex 1998 started with 3Dfx press conference in the 'Dive', a bar/café in submarine look. The presentation could have been that bit better if the projector would have worked properly, but unfortunately it took one hour until the projector could at least display a blurry and almost illegible presentation. I personally couldn't care less about presentation slides, so I could concentrate even better on what Scott Sellers, Senior Vice President 3Dfx, had to say.

3Dfx
Ex-quarterback Scott is telling us why 3Dfx will soon win the 2D/3D accelerator Superbowl

The upcoming 3Dfx Voodoo3 is actually nothing much different from what we thought would be called 'Banshee 2'. 3Dfx decided against this name since Banshee doesn't really have the very best reputation and because the new chip is meant to win the crown of the 2D/3D accelerator chips, so that it should well deserve the promising name 'Voodoo3'.

The features of Voodoo3 read like this:

  • Dual 32-bit texture rendering architecture
    32 bit internally, but 16 bit externally, then interpolated by the special RAMDAC, leading to a color depth of around 22 bit
  • True multi-texturing: 2 textures per pixel per clock
    means either one pixel per clock that's rendered using two texture maps or 2 pixels per clock using normal bi-linear filtering of one texture
  • Full hardware setup of triangle parameters
    nothing special, that's common these days
  • Support for multi-triangle strips and fans
    also common now
  • Single Pass, Single-cycle bump mapping
    using multi (dual) texturing, no special hardware routine, this means one bump mapped pixel can be rendered per clock
  • Single Pass, Single-cycle tri-linnear mip-mapping
    same as above, means one tri-linearly filtered pixel can be rendered per clock
  • Alpha Blending on source and destination pixels
  • Sub-pixel and sub texel correction to 0.4x0.4 resolution
  • Per-pixel atmospheric fog with programmable fog zones
  • Full-scene polygon-based edge anti-aliasing
  • Floating point Z buffer (W buffer)
    this Z-buffer is only 16 bit deep though
  • True per-pixel, LOD MIP mapping with biasing and clamping
  • Texture composting for multi-texture special effects
  • 8-tap anisotropic filtering
  • Support for 14 texture map formats
  • 8-bit palletized textures with full bilinear filtering
  • Texture compression through narrow-channel YAB format
    this is an interesting feature, proving that texture compression will be the future for all 3D chip makers
  • Texel Fill Rates 366 Mtexels/sec (Voodoo3 3000), 250 Mtexels/sec (Voodoo3 2000)
    Voodoo3 3000 will thus have a tiny bit higher fill rate than Voodoo2 SLI, but it can use it up to 1600x1200 and above
  • Triangle Rate 7 million triangles/sec (Voodoo3 3000), 4 million triangles/sec (Voodoo3 2000)
    this rate is fine, but so far there are hardly any games out that would ask for only 1 million triangles/sec. It only states that the 8 million triangles/sec of TNT-2 won't make this chip really faster. Fill rate is more important right now.
  • RAMDAC 350 MHz(Voodoo3 3000), 300 MHz RAMDAC (Voodoo3 2000), allowing resolutions of up to 2048x1536 at 75 Hz refresh
    this feature really rocks the boat. There is no chip announced that would have such a fast RAMDAC
  • Core Graphics Clock 183 MHz (Voodoo3 3000), 125 MHz (Voodoo3 2000)
    using .25 micron technology
  • 32 MB onboard memory support (was only 16 MB at first)
    ATI will make 32 MB local memory a common thing with Rage 128 soon, thus 3Dfx changed the specs and will support 32 MB also.
  • DVD acceleration
    this doesn't mean hardware MPEG2 decoding! It seems a matter of fact that Voodoo3 will also not have 'motion compensation', which would be helpful for MPEG2 with weaker CPUs
  • Digital Video Output (NTSC, PAL, SECAM)
    pretty common these days, but nice
  • Digital flat panel screen support (LCDfx)
    This will soon be a very important feature, but there is no common interface for didgital output for flat panels, so we'll have to see how important LCDfx will be
  • Banshee's 2D engine
    has proven to be very fast, certainly fast enough for everyone
  • AGP 2x support
    well, this feature is not quite clear to me, since 3Dfx still votes against AGP texturing. It could be that Voodoo3 will still not be able to do AGP texturing, which could be a serious problem. At the time that Voodoo3 ships there will AGP 4x come out. That will only be supported with a future Voodoo3 chip.
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