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Review: 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 AGP (Page 2/6)

Posted: September 21, 2000
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen


- Integrated 128-bit 3D/2D
- VSA-100 processor (x2)
- 166MHz/166MHz core/memory clock
- Dual pixel pipeline
- 667Mpixels/s fill rate
- 667Mtexels/s fill rate
- 1X/2X/4X AGP with full sideband support
- 32-bit rendering
- 32-bit textures
- 2Kx2K maximum texture size support
- Single-cycle trilinear mipmapping
- Up to 24-bit floating-point depth buffer (Z and W)
- 8-bit Stencil Buffer
- 8-bit Palletized Textures
- DirectX texture compression and 3dfx FXT1 texture compression
- T-buffer technology
- Depth-of-field blur
- Motion blur
- 2X and 4X FSAA
- Soft Shadows
- Soft Reflections
- 128-bit Windows GUI accelerator
- Planar-to-packed-pixel digital video format conversion

First, we note that the card using two VSA-100 chips and operate in SLI mode. What about the memory it uses? Is it even close to what are on the GeForce2 cards?

Above we see that Toshiba, who is one of the leading memory manufacturers in the world, manufactures the memory on the card. This isnít DDR SDRAM like the ones found on GeForce2 cards, but rather, are regular SDRAM modules.

Other notables are the specifications of AGP compliance. While indeed the card is an AGP card, it doesnít use the AGP port at all except for the 66MHz speed. This is because the card uses SLI technology. Now, the AGP slot is not a bus like PCI. AGP is a port. The specifications for the AGP port donít allow it to use multiple devices. Some clever engineering on ATIís and 3dfxís part allows them to use multiple chips on one board, but at the cost of AGP functionality. The Voodoo5 cannot use AGP texturing, AGP memory and other things. This is too bad since the Voodoo5 was suppose to catch up in all areas of feature set that its older brothers missed out on.

Other important features include the support (finally) for 32 color rendering, and large textures.


Youíve probably heard all about the T-Buffer but weíre going to go through it briefly one more time for the readers who arenít totally familiar with the technology.

The T-Buffer (Tirolli) is a set of capabilities that are built into the VSA-100 architecture. The most talked about feature of the T-Buffer is FSAA or Full Scene Anti Aliasing. Aliasing is the stair case step look you get on the edges of objects. Hereís a picture demonstrating what I mean.

The "3D" on the left is extremely aliased. You can see the stair case steps even without zooming in. When youíre playing a game, any object edge that isnít parallel vertically with your monitor or horizontally will appear aliased. And depending on the angle, it will be more aliased or less. Anti Aliasing adds gradient pixels along the edges of the objects to make them appear smoother. This is basically the process of anti aliasing.

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