A Look Back: 3dfx Graphics Cards

The Rampage Chipset and Spectre Cards
The successor to the Voodoo 5 series was codenamed “Rampage”. This chipset was supposed to raise the bar in the graphics industry like the original Voodoo card did. 3dfx was going to move away from the Voodoo name opting for Spectre as the product line. The product line would have 3 cards, the Spectre 1000, Spectre 2000 and Spectre 3000. The way it would work is that a card with a single Rampage chip would be called a Spectre 1000, a card with a single Rampage chip and a Sage transformation and lighting unit would be called a Spectre 2000 and a board with 2 Rampage chips and one Sage transformation and lighting unit would be called a Spectre 3000.


(The only known photo of a working Rampage card)

At the time it would have been slated for release the Spectre flagship card (Spectre 3000) would have blown anything out of the water! Nvidia wouldn’t have had anything to compete until the GeForce 4 card. It is crazy to think that some rumors point out that Rampage was in development as far back as 1997.

It is not known how many Rampage board were made, some people say around 20-30. There are only 2 real instances that we have seen photos of the illusive Rampage powered cards.

The end of 3dfx
Sadly in late 2000 several of 3dfx’s creditors decided to initiate bankruptcy proceedings. With no chance of successfully being able to contest these proceedings 3dfx opted to be bought by Nvidia. The engineers working on Rampage either stayed on to work at Nvidia on what would become the GeForce FX series or went over to ATI to create “CrossFire”.

Could have the Rampage-based cards saved 3dfx? It is really hard to tell. After doing quite a bit of research for this article there was a lot of bad things going on with 3dfx at the time. So even if the Spectre line of cards made it to market 3dfx could have been in financial trouble. It is no doubt the Rampage cards would have crushed anything that was out there by a wide margin.

Everyone who was following 3dfx at the time and all of their fans watched the former titan of the industry be reduced to nothing in the matter of 2 years. 3dfx was definitely ahead of their time in many respects. They really pushed the limits with their products and took chances. Technology that was in the Rampage chipset was first seen in GeForce 5 cards, that technology was 3 years old at the time. That just shows you how ahead of the industry 3dfx was. This is one of the great stories that all of us in the computer hardware community will remember.

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