"3dfx Interactive" which appeared as a comet in the 1990s and it went on to GPU top companies but also disappeared at the explosive speed

Chip manufacturers for graphic boards for PCs are now focused on two major manufacturers, NVIDIA and AMD (formerly ATI). However, in the mid-1990s, the startup "3dfx Interactive"With the 3D rendering abilities that overwhelm others, we succeeded in depriving the most powerful competitors and robbing the top share. 3dfx Interactive suddenly appeared on the market and glowed brilliantly disappeared from the market easily with a single strategy mistake.

3Dfx History: The GPU's Great Turning Point?

Develop computer graphicsSilicon Graphics International (SGI)At that time, I had the world's best graphic development technology, including being the de facto standard of CG production used in the film industry in the 1990s. SGI is also known for providing 3D technology to Nintendo's game machine Nintendo 64.

Scott Sellers who worked at SGI then, id SoftwareDOOMThere was also the success of the PC game market and I felt great potential. However, SGI, which had sold 100,000 dollars (about 10 million yen) development kit to Nintendo, is doing business with large companies, and because it never sells graphic products for consumers, Sellers Decided to be independent with SGI colleagues Roth Smith and Gray Taori.

At that time, Pellucid, the predecessor of SGI, aimed at the PC game market, and that Pellucid was acquired by Media Vision. The direction of Media Vision was consistent with the aims of the sellers, and at first it was said that a merger to Media Vision was sought. "However, there was only one small problem, Media Vision was managed by fraudsters," sellers said at the time.

After all,Financial misconduct is discovered by Media VisionAs a result, the merge of the sellers was canceled and three people received 3 dfx Interactive (3 dfx) as a startup after receiving the investment of venture capitalist Gordon Campbell.

3dfx first tackled the arcade game. The technology of the 3D accelerator chip "Voodoo" developed in 1995 got underway in the form of "Home Run Derby" of the arcade game. Home Run Derby is a game in which a player holds a baseball bat and stands in the batter's box before the display and hits the ball that comes as 3D in the display. The swing trajectory was measured with an infrared sensor, and it seems that judging whether the ball hit will be a home run from the timing of the swing etc.

Home Run Derby announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 1996 gave a big reaction and Voodoo realizing the graphics of Home Run Derby attracted attention and showed high technical ability of 3dfx Interactive which was established shortly .

After that, according to Sellers' intention, Voodoo will shift its axis foot to PC and sweep the graphics of PC games, but there are four reasons that 3dfx gained overwhelming support for it And that.

The first reason is that 3dfx released its own API "Glide" at the same time as releasing the Voodoo chip. At that time, when developing games, it is usual to use APIs issued by Microsoft, there were no APIs optimized for graphics chips. Powerful tags such as Voodoo Chip + Glide API make it possible for developers to draw high-quality images with different dimensions from general-purpose APIs. About this situation, Smith says, "It was a very radical thing for graphics companies to do." With overwhelming high image quality, 3dfx succeeded in installing support for almost all major games.

The second reason is that it succeeded in killer content "Quake". 3dfx is id Software'sJohn CarmackAs soon as I explained that Voodoo + Glide can increase the rendering speed of the game, Carmack was told that he took his eye out. Carmac showed high performance pursued software rendering, which contributed greatly to Quake's big hit. The cooperation with the Quake team led to the great success of 3dfx.

On the left side of the screen is a general VGA that moved Quake, the right is 3 dfx. Image quality is different at a glance level.

The third reason is that 3dfx focused on 3D only from the beginning. As a result of concentrating only on 3D graphics to avoid degrading performance by adding 2D graphics capability to the system, we were able to achieve 3D graphics performance superior to competitors trying to enhance 3D functions afterwards It was. And the fourth reason is that as a result of the overwhelming drawing ability being bought, it was possible to quickly collaborate with large companies called Creative Labs and Diamond Multimedia. The provision of graphic chips to the graphic board that symbolizes the era of "Diamond's Monster 3 D" has led to greatly increasing the brand awareness of 3 dfx.

In 3dfx, we had tie-up negotiations with Sega to jointly develop the game machine Dreamcast hardware. Although it was a big business opportunity for 3dfx, the alliance was not realized, after all, in July 1997, Sega was to partner with NEC to adopt PowerVR. This seems to be a business blow that 3dfx faced for the first time. After that, 3dfx will end the business by the second blow.

In 1998 3dfx acquired STB Systems which was a major manufacturer of graphics board at the timeAnnouncementDid. 3 dfx which absorbed STB Systems changed to a strategy of stopping selling chipsets that had been done to other graphic board makers until then and manufacturing and selling their own graphic board "Voodoo 3" on their own. This was a big bet that aimed at getting bigger profits by handling the production of the final product graphic board rather than buying and selling chips on their own.

3dfx 's policy change meaned conflict with Creative Labs and Diamond Multimedia which had been in cooperation until then. As a result, by switching to Creative Labs, Diamond Multimedia and other chips such as NVIDIA, competition with rivals offering chips intensified. Delayed manufacturing and sales of Voodoo 3 further lagged behind the development of next-generation products 3dfx was overtaken by rivals such as NVIDIA and ATI at the leading 3D drawing ability, finally overtaken, December 2000 , Sold the intellectual property right possessed by NVIDIA and dissolved it.

As soon as it appeared like a comet in the mid 90's, 3 dfx, which took overwhelming share in the PC game market, was lost by the first and last big bet that it would be a graphic board maker from a chip vendor, and it disappeared like a comet .

in Note,   Hardware,   Game, Posted by darkhorse_log