3dfx Voodoo graphic cards emulation coming to DOSBox

October 20, 2010 · Filed Under Emulation & Retrogaming, News 

News - A succession of fresh, quality news, from inside and outside of the WebFollowers of the VOGONS board and DOSBox official forum are already aware of this: one of the forthcoming versions of the best PC-with-DOS emulator out there should include a very important architectural novelty, ie the software implementation of the historical Voodoo Graphics chipset created by 3dfx Interactive in the Nineties. “Kekko”, the programmer working on the project with the aid of the DOSBox crew and the coding-capable VOGONS users, says that his aim is the complete and faithful emulation of SST-1, the first Voodoo chipset marketed in 1996 inside the first 3D graphics accelerated cards on the PC.

Voodoo Graphics by 3dfx has actually the merit of having paved the way for the independent management of polygonal graphics, freeing the CPU from the demanding workload of three dimensional scenes rendering and giving them smoothness and visual quality never seen before. Supplied in wholesale volumes to third party manufacturers of graphic cards, for a short period of time SST-1 has been the point of reference for the then-born universe of accelerated 3D graphics. After the original Voodoo Graphics chipset came four other unique iterations of the Voodoo series (Voodoo 2, 3, 4 and 5), until wrong economic choices and the always increasing competition from ATI, NVIDIA and others brought 3dfx to bankruptcy in 2000.

The Voodoo Graphics chips appeared on the PC market in a very important period: Windows 95 was a novelty still far away from being installed on all the x86 computers of the planet, and the MS-DOS command prompt was the king in the households as much as in the enterprises. Before the definitive success of Windows and the DirectX libraries, games developers made a certain amount of DOS titles capable of exploiting the 3dfx accelerating technology through the proprietary API Glide.

3dfx - logo 3dfx - Diamond Monster 3D graphic card 3dfx - Voodoo3 box art

Right now DOSBox can’t manage Glide games by itself, and there is no such thing like a true PC emulator able to simulate the behaviour of the SST-1 chipset. The new engine by Kekko and the other contributors will dismiss the need to use a particular DOSBox build (originally created by developer “gulikoza”) to access the Glide libraries on the host computer and the external wrappers (emulation layers designed to convert API Glide calls in native DirectX or OpenGL calls meaningful to modern 3D technologies) like OpenGLide or the Glidos commercial product based on it.

Kekko announced the beginning of the SST-1 emulation project on August, and the development work has advanced quickly thanks to the contribution - critical as usual - by Aaron Giles, main contributor and director of the MAME project. Giles started to work on the emulation of 3dfx technology (popular on the PC but also on the arcade machines) years ago, and thanks to the work “behind the scenes” by the mamedev “Stiletto” the MAME code related to the Voodoo chipset has been released with an open source license (BSD) that is compatible with the GPL one adopted by DOSBox.

SST-1 on DOSBox - screenshot 1 SST-1 on DOSBox - screenshot 2 SST-1 on DOSBox - screenshot 3

Three different moments in the development of the SST-1 emulation under DOSBox

Working “on the shoulders of the giants”, in a few weeks Kekko has succeeded in achieving an almost-complete emulation of the SST-1 chipset with 3D graphics rendering right inside DOSBox, with no additional patches or external wrappers. But the work isn’t complete for sure, the developer says on VOGONS: the main areas to advance the emulation on include a better compatibility with the few Glide games for DOS and improved performances by using a multi-threading architecture on multi-core CPUs, or else by using the GPU to ease the workload of the main processor. Right now, the developers say, the activation of the SST-1 core - which like the original hardware needs a 2D card working simultaneously - turns DOSBox into a useless snail.

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10 Responses to “3dfx Voodoo graphic cards emulation coming to DOSBox”

  1. jan on October 20th, 2010 9:20 am

    3dfx didn’t go bankrupt, they had a patent case against nvidia, which in turn decided to buy the whole of 3dfx instead of pay damages and a license.

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  2. Sir Arthur, King of Ghouls'n Ghosts on October 20th, 2010 11:52 am


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  3. Hanneth on October 21st, 2010 6:52 pm

    Unfortunately 3dfx did file for bankruptcy. They had a completely incompetent marketing CEO at the time that saw they had no cash, and that they had lots of competition.

    Completely ignoring the fact that they had 500 million in receivership, a contract with the US Air Force, were in a large portion of the arcade machines and hand technology in the pipe that was better than what the competition would have for years to come.

    Instead of borrowing money, which with their position I don’t think any bank would have batted an eye at lending it to them the idiot suggested to the shareholders to pack up the business and shut it down.

    The best equivalent I can think of that shows the pure stupidity of the CEO would be Balmer recommending to the board to shut down Microsoft and they agree. Though Microsoft probably still had enough cash reserves to run for 10 years doing the same thing they are doing now without selling one more product.

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  4. Ugly American on October 21st, 2010 7:58 pm

    I really look forward to GLIDE support in DOSBox to play Interstate ‘76 3Dfx edition again!

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  5. anonymous on October 22nd, 2010 5:45 pm

    You don’t have to wait to play Interstate ‘76 with 3Dfx under dosbox. Use the latest nGlide 0.94 (use only the glide2x.dll from nGlide) with gulikoza’s, cosmicdan’s or ykhwong’s DOSBox CVS/SVN builds. I highly recommend the latest ykhwong’s DOSBox SVN 0.74 (10. 21. 2010) with nGlide’s 0.94 glide2x.dll.

    Note: gulikoza’s, cosmicdan’s or ykhwong’s DOSBox CVS/SVN builds use OpenGlide. Just replace the glide2x.dll with the one from nGlide 0.94.


    ykhwong’s (Taewoong’s) build

    gulikoza’s build


    CosmicDan’s build

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  6. Pix on November 5th, 2010 12:41 pm

    This is so awesome! DOSBox is one of the most amazing emulators ever and this is the final icing- 3dfx Voodoo1

    The workaround done using a glide wrapper to emulate is also really impressive, but a full blown emulation of this important addon is what I have been eagerly awaiting. I knew the DOSBox developers would do this eventually. Can’t wait for this release!

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  7. User on November 24th, 2010 5:14 pm

    seems modern PCs are not fast enough for this thing

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  8. Sir Arthur, King of Ghouls'n Ghosts on November 24th, 2010 5:22 pm

    Indeed :-P

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  9. Rez on November 25th, 2010 2:56 pm

    This has to be the best thing to happen to PC gaming since GOG.com. I hope it is able to run my Archimedean Dynasty and the other voodoo enabled games.

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  10. Roland DAntonio on September 16th, 2011 11:25 am

    I’ve kept all my old PCs. Have 1 each VooDoo 1,4meg,2,12meg.200mhz and 230mhz.
    I do enjoy showimg the awsome power 3DFX showed us all in the early years.

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