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Thursday, November 8, 2001
Work Continues on Unofficial 3dfx OS X Drivers
12:55 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Owners of the legendary Voodoo line of video cards were disappointed when 3dfx ceased operations last year, and rightly so. In a going-out-of-business sale, 3dfx transferred their technological assets to Nvidia, but did not see fit to make continuing support of their customers a condition of the sale.

Driver development for 3dfx cards ceased, leaving the Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 incompatible with Mac OS X. And while some users have had success using a Voodoo3 to drive a second monitor in 2D mode, 3D hardware acceleration is missing.

Continuing development of Mac OS 9 is also leaving the cards behind: the existing Mac Voodoo drivers are incompatible with OpenGL 1.2.2, introduced in Mac OS 9.2.

One intrepid programmer, however, is offering a glimmer of hope to Voodoo3, 4, and 5 owners moving on to Mac OS X. Adam Thayer has begun work on a 2D driver for the Voodoo3 that he hopes will drive a primary monitor under OS X:

These drivers will be a hack/kludge and cannot be assured to work. They may work for some, but not others. They may suddenly KP on you. I will try to solve any issues that arise later in development, but honestly, I cannot guarantee that I can fix them all. Just think of this along the lines of 3dfx's unsupport for the Voodoo3 on Macs.
Once Thayer can get the Voodoo3 working, he intends to work on Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 support. Note that his first goal is to simply to get the cards to drive a monitor under OS X; 2D graphics acceleration will come later, he hopes.

If Thayer is able to get the cards driving and accelerating 2D graphics, only then will he be able to turn his attention to OpenGL acceleration. (He doesn't mention any plans to attempt Glide support.)

Thayer is pursuing this project in his spare time and despite some formidable obstacles: the Voodoo4 and 5 chipset specifications were never published, 3dfx's Mac OS driver code was never released, and he doesn't have a Voodoo4 or 5 for testing. (If you're in a position to get Thayer access to the information he needs, he'd love to hear from you.)

For more information, check out Thayer's web page. Just don't plan on playing Giants: Citizen Kabuto on your Voodoo5 any time soon.

(Brian Rumsey contributed to this story.)

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Archives  News  Work Continues on Unofficial 3dfx OS X Drivers