In exciting news for Mac gamers, 3dfx Interactive announced at Macworld Expo that it is to bring "extreme-performance" 3D graphics to the Mac with branded products featuring the new VSA-100 (Voodoo Scalable Architecture) processor. Board products based on the VSA-100, which contains native Mac support and acceleration, will deliver "ultimate fill rates and high visual reality through breakthrough digital cinematic effects, bringing Mac gaming to the next level", according to the company. Additionally, 3dfx claims that 3D rendering quality on the Mac will be "dramatically improved through the VSA-100’s advanced full-scene anti-aliasing technology".

In August 1999, 3dfx introduced the first version of its beta drivers for the Voodoo3 to the Mac development community in order to enable leading game developers to create Mac versions of their best-selling Windows PC games, and to attract more cutting-edge 3D titles to the Mac platform. Developer support played an important role in 3dfx’s decision to enter the market with branded products.

"3dfx really created the hardware-accelerated 3D gaming market on the PC and we’re anticipating a similar effect on the Mac," said Michael Evans, project lead for Oni at Bungie Software. "With their forthcoming VSA-100 products, users can expect to experience Oni and Halo at higher resolutions, significantly higher frame rates and remarkably better image quality."

"The new family of iMacs and the new Power Mac G4 are great platforms for beginning and hard-core gamers alike," said Clent Richardson, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations. "3dfx's technology will help make games and other intensive visual applications stand out on the Mac."

At the heart of the VSA-100 is a new advanced 3D engine that enables extremely high fill rates. Sustaining high fill rate is critical to deliver real-time frame rates at high resolution, with significant depth complexity, digital effects and the highest visual quality.

The VSA-100 allows for the first time, true full-scene, hardware anti-aliasing at real-time frame rates. True full-scene anti-aliasing removes visual artifacts, such as "jaggies" and triangle "popping" to create smooth images that deliver a substantially improved immersive experience for the viewer. Additionally, multiple chip implementations of the VSA-100 enable advanced T-Buffer digital cinematic effects including motion blur, programmable depth-of-field, soft shadows and soft reflections.

The VSA-100, composed of over 14 million transistors, is fabricated in an enhanced .25 micron, 6-layer metal semiconductor process. The architecture incorporates industry standard 3D features including 32-bit RGBA rendering, 24-bit depth-buffer (Z and W), 8-bit stencil rendering, FXT1 texture compression support, 32-bit textures, 2048x2048 texture size support, and advanced texture and colour combine capabilities. Additional support is provided for both AGP 4x and PCI, DVD hardware assist, and the world’s most powerful 128-bit 2D engine.

Specific board configurations will be announced in the first quarter of 2000 and are expected to be available at retail in the second quarter of 2000.

For all the news from Macworld Expo 2000, San Francisco, go to Macworld’s round-up pages.