Graphics card history: How pixels learned to run

Graphics card history: How pixels learned to run

The second generation

With that the big battle, nVidia vs. 3Dfx, began and the race took its course. nVidia countered with the TNT chip, which, depending on the application, was not always as fast as the VooDoo2, but with its 32-bit color depth overshadowed all previous graphic quality.

nVidia TNT from Diamond
nVidia TNT (DeLuxe version from ASUS)

Matrox also came up with a 3D in the meantime Chip, the G200, which really deserves the name. Because in contrast to the old MGA-2164 chips on the Mystique and Millenium, there was a really complete set of 3D effects, including 32-bit rendering. An OpenGL ICD, which was only available after the release of the successor G400, important for the long-running hits based on the Quake2/3 engine, unfortunately prevented greater success in the mass market.

Matrox Millenium G200

S3, which had been written off by many after their Virge debacle, also came back on the market with the Savage3D. Unfortunately, it suffered from a lack of acceptance from board manufacturers, also due to initially weak drivers. Two highlights should not go unmentioned: With this chip, texture (de) compression in real time found its way into the consumer card sector, and Ati finally got competition in the DVD playback sector, as this chip now also supports iDCT. Back then, due to the performance of current CPUs, this was much more important than it is today.

ATi XPert98
ATi Rage Fury
S3 Savage3D

A new standard

At the same time, a new bus for graphics cards was created - AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port). While the TNT mastered all AGP features from the start, 3Dfx did not manage to use the AGP features (textures in RAM, 2xAGP etc.) with either the VooDoo Banshee (VooDoo2 with 2D unit) or the VooDoo3. In addition, even after the TNT2 was released, 3Dfx still stuck to 16-bit rendering, which for better or worse meant the end for 3dfx in the long run.

3Dfx Voodoo Banshee final
STB Velocity 100(Voodoo3-1000)
3dfx Voodoo3 3000
3dfx Voodoo3 3500

On the next page: About strategists and strategies