Home Spotted: the Spectre of 3dfx’s next chip
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Spotted: the Spectre of 3dfx’s next chip

Scott Wasson
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The guys at the ‘shack managed to catch this one. Apparently, 3dfx posted a version of its online technology glossary with some terms included that weren’t exactly intended for public consumption just yet. A bunch of investor messageboard types got hold of the info and posted it, but those posts then got nuked. The ‘shack guys were able to preserve just a bit of it, and it looks interesting:

M-Buffer™ : “M” stands for multi-sample. … in the multi-sampling method, used by Spectre, only one texture lookup per *pixel* (so that all subsamples use the same texture lookup value) is required. …it reduces the amount of texture lookup by a factor of 4 compared to the VSA-100 method…

Recursive textures : Texturing flexibility by supporting N (8 for Spectre) independent, unique textures applied per pixel in a single rendering pass… Also reflection on water.

Overbright (52-bit color) : Increased internal precision of 52-bits (signed 13-bits per RGBA color component), generating rendered images of substantially higher quality. The higher dynamic range reduces darkening resulting in more vibrant and realistic images.

The chip to which they refer, the Spectre, must be 3dfx’s next-gen part, code-named Rampage. Sounds like they’ve got some serious new features on the grill, including programmable texturing in the 3D pipeline and yet another funky 3dfx trick to get higher effective bit rates out of a chip. And the M-Buffer sounds like a T-buffer on steroids.

Combined with some kind of T&L acceleration and the mysterious hidden surface removal feature that recently materialized in 3dfx’s drivers, this Spectre might just make 3dfx a player again.

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