Holiday for Voodoo Believers: 3dfx’ Voodoo Graphics Birthday (PCGH Retro Special)

Orchid Righteous 3D with Voodoo Graphics

from Thilo Bayer
On November 6, 1995, 3dfx announced Voodoo Graphics, just one year after the company was founded. The Voodoo Graphics was to represent a milestone in 3D development and open the door for 3dfx to other products in the 3D accelerator market.

Orchid Righteous 3D with Voodoo Graphics

Source: C. Spille

In the official press release of November 6th, 1995, 3dfx emphasizes the use in arcade machines compared to the end customer market. The first OEM partners are companies like Orchid or FMI – names that are hardly known today. The game companies with which 3dfx wants to work closely are now mostly history or have been bought up by publishing conglomerates. Looking Glass, Virgin Interactive, Interplay, Acclaim, Accolade, Mindscape, Sierra Online – big names in the 90s, today they only play a role as a brand name.

With the Voodoo Graphics (code name SST-1), a graphics chip with 2 million transistors, manufactured in 0.5 microns, 3dfx finally caused a sensation from autumn 1996. With technical data that was impressive for the time, such as a pixel/texel fill rate of 50 million operations per second and 4 MiByte of its own memory (EDO-RAM) as well as the most comprehensive 3D feature set up to that point, you not only left the competition in terms of fps performance, but also in terms of image quality (sometimes far behind). The success is mainly due to three things: First, the recently collapsed RAM price for EDO chips, which makes the Voodoo entry-level price mass market compatible. Secondly: the busty Lara Croft and a 3dfx version of the action-adventure Tomb Raider and thirdly the GL version of a first-person shooter that is as well-known as it has been for years, and which dominates the gaming worldtremble leaves.

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The most well-known in this country is the Diamond Monster 3D seen above, followed by the Orchid Righteous 3D with its characteristic cracking noise when switching to 3D mode and the Miro HiScore, which is pretty much the only freely available card with the full 6 MiByte VRAM -Upgrade features, benefiting texture memory. The frame buffer remains at a static 2 MiByte as with all other Voodoo Graphics cards, which is therefore limited to (Z-buffered) 640×480 or 800×600 pixels in a 16-bit color depth, which was still advanced at the time. SLI was already technically possible back then, but it was not yet finding a significant foothold with end customers.

The editors say: Happy Birthday, Voodoo Graphics! What is your opinion on 3Dfx’s legendary 3D accelerator? Use the comment function.

If you are interested in 3dfx graphics cards, we recommend the following articles:
• PCGH Retro: 3dfx history
• PCGH Retro: The Story of the 3dfx Voodoo5 6000
• The main 3dfx graphics cards: From Voodoo Graphics to the Voodoo5 6000

3dfx Voodoo 5 6000: Voodoo cult with Roland Kleef – PCGH Classics