A Windows 98 era 3DFX GPU is back from the dead with HDMI


A Windows 98 era 3DFX GPU is back from the dead with HDMI

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A team of hardware enthusiasts has upgraded a 23-year-old 3DFX Voodoo graphics card with modern HDMI and DVI video outputs. Oscar Barea and Ash Evans took over a year to accomplish this feat, but it can now finally run games.

Dubbed VoodooX, this project is based on the VSA-100 GPU found on the Voodoo4 4500 and Voodoo 5 5500 graphics cards. Released on June 22, 2000, the GPU die measures 112mm², uses TSMC’s 250nm process, and supports DirectX 6.0. For reference, the RTX 4090 die is 609mm² and packs 5,450 times the transistor count.

VoodooX 3Dfx graphics card installed on a motherboard.

For this project, the duo paired VSA-100 with 32MB of RAM, which nowadays isn’t even enough to run a smart toaster. However, the team plans to push that to 64MB. To avoid any potential incompatibilities, the modders added a physical switch that swaps between the two capacities. This reminds me of those Turbo buttons on old PCs, which, in case you didn’t know, did the exact opposite of their name. If you wonder why, well, some apps and games were made for specific hardware, causing faster chips to break their speed or physics.

While nice, the most notable point isn’t performance, even though some believe this is one of the fastest-ever Voodoo cards. The star of the show here is the modified and upgraded video outputs. The team managed to install an HDMI plus a DVI port alongside the ageing VGA. This is no easy feat, as Voodoo didn’t build the original card with digital outputs in mind.

VoodooX 3Dfx graphics card project running Quake.

As you can guess, this wasn’t a straightforward task. Far from that. Oscar Barea had to build a new PCB and find a way to translate the signal. As far as we know, the reincarnation required no sacrifices. The modder in question only needed a huge amount of knowledge to add modern connectivity.

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With a working card on hand, there was only one way to test such a legendary GPU: running Quake 3 and Dune 2000. They played the on an LG Flatron M1962D, a 19in monitor boasting a 1366×768 60Hz TN panel.

Though already impressive, Oscar Barea and Ash Evans aren’t done yet. Next, they plan to relocate the HDMI and DVI closer together. So, we wish them good luck with their next step.

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