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Emulation (Games) Classic Games (Games) Graphics Games

3dfx Voodoo Graphic Card Emulation Coming To DOSBox 156

KingofGnG writes with this excerpt from King Arthur's Den: "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."
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3dfx Voodoo Graphic Card Emulation Coming To DOSBox

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  • Great Job! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @01:59AM (#33957550) Journal
    Gotta give the DOSBox guys credit, they make the best even better! I can't wait until Good Old Games have Voodoo built in to their custom DOSBox game installers! Instant Voodoo, whoo!
    • Yes! It means I can finally throw my 3dfx card away.
      I think the only reason I've kept it this long is nostalgia. First "gaming" video card I ever bought with my own money, and a pretty important step in the industry too.

      • Sell it, if you can. There are people increasingly willing to spend more than you'd think for a 3dfx board.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm ( 69642 )

        Yes! It means I can finally throw my 3dfx card away.

        A (slightly) older generation thought it amusing to hang ancient winchester drive platters on the wall. Bonus points for visual head crash damage.

        I'm sure that "soon" people will pay excellent money for your 3dfx card screwed onto neatly finished wood plaque. Its been a backup business plan of mine in case of unemployment... The ideal target customer is an insecure relatively inexperienced CIO type trying to redecorate his mahogany row office with loads of cash whom wants to appear to be a tech oldtimer.

  • I be able to replay the original Unreal, on an emulation of the hardware I had at the time, (actually think I had a Voodoo 2 not a 1).
    • Some time later I still had a Pentium 120 laying around and put together an Athlon 600. In the Athlon 600 I had a Matrox G400. And then I picked up a comparatively old Voodoo 2.

      Loaded up Unreal and Unreal Tournament. The Pentium 120 w/ the Voodoo 2 was smooth as silk. 60fps. The Athlon 600 and newer Matrox G400. Chunk Chunk Chunk.

      I miss 3dfx. Glide was amazing.

      • Glide was a neat low-level library, but Unreal's support for anything besides Glide and its software renderer was flat-out awful... terribly CPU-intensive, slow, and twitchy across a wide range of hardware. The enhanced OpenGL and Direct3D renderers [] written by cwdonahl would put the G400 comfortably ahead of the Voodoo2, were you to run the test today.
    • by Eraesr ( 1629799 )
      Erm, Unreal was a windows game, not a DOS game, so DOSBox won't help you there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by apn_k ( 938000 )
        Well if you look around on the vogons dosbox forums: [] , you will find out that you can run Windows 95 in dosbox with some tweaks. In fact, they are using the real voodoo drivers installed in windows 95 for testing the voodoo emulation in dosbox.
        • you will find out that you can run Windows 95 in dosbox with some tweaks.

          But then how are GOG and the like supposed to distribute copies of games that ran in Windows 95, as suggested in this comment []? Microsoft no longer makes available the "boot disk" and "setup files" referenced on your tutorial, and even if it did, they'd be too expensive. FreeDOS is a feature-complete Free clone of MS-DOS, but the Free clone of Windows [] is nowhere near that level simply because Windows itself is so big.

          • by hitmark ( 640295 )

            I wonder if one could get away with focusing on the directx set first, and then branch out from there. Hell, maybe borrow code from Wine.

    • Unreal has a software renderer, on a modern CPU it will be faster then a Voodoo card.

      (Yes, one of the all-time great games...)

  • Carmageddon (Score:5, Funny)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @02:10AM (#33957590)

    Hopefully that means I'll finally be able to play it on a 64-bit OS...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      My friend has just released a rebuild of carmageddon using XNA, check it out at []
      • by richlv ( 778496 )

        AAAAAAAAA. carmageddon. my favourite game, ever. played both 1st & second multiplayer, up to 12 players (one of them had a limit of 8 i believe, other of 12 - don't recall the details anymore...)

        now if only this was not for a platform i stopped using many years ago, i'd try to devote some time for that project...

  • by seeker_1us ( 1203072 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @02:21AM (#33957634)
    Reading TFA it seems like the objective is to simulate the SST1 chip completely in software. The article itself says that:

    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.

    So this seems to be very different from something like, say, GliDos.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NJRoadfan ( 1254248 )

      There are CVS builds of DOSBox that supports using a GLide wrapper on the host machine. Calls to the emulated Voodoo card's I/O ports are forwarded to the wrapper and gives decent VooDoo 2 emulation. Most of the limitations with this setup come from the beta GLide wrapper not implementing all of the GLide API.

      Granted this solution seems Windows only at the moment, I don't see why they need to emulate a 3D chipset when the host machine's 3D graphics card can handle the rendering. They could write a GLide to

      • by Schadrach ( 1042952 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @08:54AM (#33959698)

        Compatibility reasons maybe? It's not like game programmers for DOS liked to use sometimes bizarre and certainly nonstandard ways of accessing various hardware or anything. Except that they did. Quite a lot, in fact.

        • I don't think that it was a matter of wanting to do it, it was a matter of necessity. There's a reason why most dos games from later on were shipped with DOS/4GW [].
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Hatta ( 162192 )

            This seems like a good place to point out DOS32/a. It's a drop in replacement for DOS/4GW. It was independently developed from Dosbox as a modern alternative to the old dos extenders, but it works quite well with Dosbox. It works with just about everything, and it makes most games better. I pre-emptively swap DOS32/a in when I install anything on dosbox.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gulikoza ( 1087283 )
        If you're talking about my Glide patch for DOSBox then I'll have to correct a few things :)
        First, the patch is fully crossplatform (at least the dosbox part), but you require Glide support (real card or wrapper) on the host system. Patches have been submitted to OpenGlide that make it work in Linux and OS X. The full setup (DOSBox + OpenGlide) has been tested to work on Windows, Linux and OS X including using Glide (and OpenGL through the 3dfx minidriver) in guest Windows9x (yes, I've played Half-Life insi
      • by Runefox ( 905204 )

        Actually, having read through the forum posts, it seems like Kekko's patch is based on the work of Aaron Giles, who wrote the 3DFX emulation for MAME. MAME takes an accuracy-first approach, and aims for complete hardware emulation and documentation, which is what this code was written to do. A lot of things are completely unoptimized for acceleration, and from what I'm reading, Kekko is planning on multi-threading it and passing off 3D calls to the GPU. Clearly, it's necessary to get the code working first,

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cgenman ( 325138 )

      One nice thing about DOSBox is that it seems to emulate as much as possible in software. That makes it run DOS based games more solidly and consistently than its counterparts that rely upon hardware. If a DOS title won't run natively under Windows 7, and won't run in compatibility mode, it will probably run under DOSBox.

      Software emulation, theoretically, means it won't break.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Computers are only getting faster. Eventually they'll offload that emulation onto another core and you won't even notice the speed hit. This is much preferable to a shim that will break every time the underlying hardware or OS changes.

      Since Dosbox does everything in software, it works the same no matter what platform you're on. i386, x86-64, ARM, PowerPC, Sparc, etc. Since everything is in software, and we have the source, we can be confident that it what Dosbox can do today it will be able to do indefi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @02:24AM (#33957648)

    As per TFA [], the Voodoo emulator is basically lifted from MAME []. Granted, integrating it into DOSBox is important work and all, but I would judge the original code to be worth more than 90% of the effort. Yet Aaron gets no credit in the summary.

  • So how long till the new version is in the Debian stable repositories for Lenny?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've played the 3Dfx version of Tomb Raider in a custom version of DOSBox by Gulikoza that emulates the Glide API. It works very well and is less clunky than using Glidos. I'd rather that was supported within the official DOSBox, or the Matrox Millennium's graphics for the even better looking version of Tomb Raider was supported.

    • Tomb Raider was *much* better on PowerVR then Voodoo.

      • Citations, please. I never got to see a vintage PowerVR card in action. :)
        • I remember seeing screenshots in magazines at the day. Tomb Raider, Quake, Ultim@ate Race and Mechwarrior 2 were the usual examples. The PowerVR graphics looked better. I think it was due to the way textures were sampled, or filtered.
          • For Tomb Raider, I'd be willing to believe it. There was something "muddy" about 3Dfx's texture filtering that obscured fine detail somewhat. Sadly the PCX series didn't support a lot of blending modes, which made upcoming titles with colored lighting a difficult (and unattractive) proposition.
        • Personal experience - I had both cards (still got them in fact....)

          Voodoo was better for most games but Tomb Raider looked much nicer and was faster on PowerVR.

  • Does this mean I get to relive playing quakegl on my Voodoo for the first time? Sweet, I'll finally own you LPBs.
    • Not by using this - GLQuake was a Windows exclusive, targeted for Windows 95, that didn't even like playing nice with NT 4. The only DOS-native port of Quake that took advantage of 3D accelerators was VQuake, a terrific port of the game to the Rendition V1000 graphics cards. I would literally give a tooth to see a properly written Rendition chip emulator... the image quality and feature set of those cards was far ahead of its time, apart from the lack of per-pixel mipmapping. Emulating a 25 mpix/second c
      • Not by using this - GLQuake was a Windows exclusive, targeted for Windows 95, that didn't even like playing nice with NT 4

        Not true. It ran very nicely on Windows NT - that was where I played it at the time. It wasn't a Windows exclusive, nor was it written for Windows 95. It was actually written for UNIX and then ported to Windows. If you check the readme file for the original version, you'll see a number of things that it says will only work on a graphical UNIX workstation, not on a cheap gaming PC.

        It shipped with a 'miniGL' driver for 3dfx cards. This implemented the subset of OpenGL that GLQuake used on top of GLide

        • I seem to remember that DirectSound was nearly impossible to get working, and that the waveOut default audio lagged by ~500 ms on most of the systems that were running it. There was also muttering about some kind of SMP weirdness a loooong time ago, though I'm pretty sure it was a driver issue on the host system. Fair enough, I recant on the rest.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
            Service Pack 3 was required, but DirectSound worked fine. I can't believe I remember that...
            • Creepy... the drivers for the hardware we had available must have let us down. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
    • Um, you could already do that. At the time it was released it required a 3dfx card in order to be playable. But it did support OpenGL. It is playable with other chips these days though.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wow, reminds me of my first 3d accelerated experiance on a 3DFX Voodoo 2 playing Quake 2. There were a few great classic games that ran only on that board, and a few that ran best on it. Motorhead and Turok are all that can spring to the mind at the moment though. The users of wine found a way to play these games though with a Glide to OpenGL wrapper, so I was able to play turok again without the need of a voodoo card in linux. Great job to the dosbox team for making this available for all to use though. I

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Diablo2 looks best on a Glide capable card, though I just use a Glide->OpenGL wrapper to enable the prettier effects.
  • ... I'd rather see them integrate MIDI support. Particularly nice would be MT-32 emulation, but any half-decent MIDI would do. At the moment you have to pipe MIDI commands through to the system's synthesizer, and not all DOSBox-capable systems have a synth that's very good, or easy to setup, or even any synth at all. Unfortunately, DOSBox aren't doing this at the moment as a matter of policy [].

    I encourage anyone who'd also like this to mention it to the DOSBox devs.

    • I'd rather see them integrate MIDI support. Particularly nice would be MT-32 emulation [but] DOSBox aren't doing this at the moment as a matter of policy.

      I imagine that the copyright in Roland's samples is licensed under terms that preclude free redistribution. Can you provide a high-quality sound font with a fully paid-up license?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _Shad0w_ ( 127912 )

      MT-32 emulation is a tricky subject, partly because users need to have their own legitimate copies of the MT-32 ROM and also because it actually takes quite a bit of processing power to emulate one.

      I just have a real MT-32 :) I love playing old Sierra games in DOSBox with the MT-32 hooked up; they all sound so much better.

      • Have you tried Dune 2 with the Roland MT-32? It will blow your socks off.

        • Aye, Dune 2 has fantastic music. I just wish I could get hold of the updated config program Westwood released though, the one which let you select a sound card for the digital sounds and the MT-32 for music; I have the original version of the game which only let you do one or the other, but not both.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ledow ( 319597 )

      If you have a synth that's not very good, or you don't have a synth at all (Timidity springs to mind on Linux - think it's even got a Cygwin port) then why would you care about MIDI in a DOS game either?

      First, you need a working sound setup in order to get audio.
      Second, you need a working video setup in order to get images.
      Third, it's not at all unreasonable to suggest you have a working MIDI synth setup in order to get MIDI sound. How more "pure" can you get in an open-source "emulator" that can't bundle

      • As a random comment... I played a lot of Hero's Quest (later renamed Quest for Glory) on my PC with its crappy little speaker. It had a great soundtrack--I can still remember the main theme. One day my uncle installed it on his PC which was hooked up to his keyboard via MIDI. When the game started up and it played that same music through the keyboard, my first reaction was: that's not how it sounds. I was so used to the tinny PC bleeps and bloops...

      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

        If you are having MIDI latency problems under Windows, try ASIO4ALL []. It's far from fancy, but it's FAST.

        ASIO4ALL plus something other than onboard Realtek sound (I'm using a Turtle Beach Amigo II) is enough to let me use a lowly Acer Aspire One netbook as the synth module for my EWI USB. It works just fine. Even when I was using more expensive sound hardware (Lexicon Omega), the ASIO4ALL driver worked better than the native Lexicon driver!

    • by Kazymyr ( 190114 )

      ... I'd rather see them integrate MIDI support. Particularly nice would be MT-32 emulation,
      There you go: []

  • But even more technically, they tended to act as graphics decelerators, so I guess I'll give the Voodoo a pass. It really was a game changer.
    • by FreonTrip ( 694097 ) <.freontrip. .at.> on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @08:31AM (#33959494)

      The S3 ViRGE was the "decelerator" of its time. Had they been used as glorified software renderers expected to do little besides push point-sampled, perspective corrected textures onto polygons, with all geometry calculations handled by the host CPU, they would have been better, but the competition was too steep for anyone to bother writing what would amount to an enhanced software renderer. Visual quality would have been shown up badly using such a scheme, so the native titles for the ViRGE were pretty but terribly slow. From what I recall the Descent II port was a pretty heroic effort.

      The Rendition cards were really very solid by comparison, but the V1000 series took a noticeable speed hit when they were expected to handle on-chip z-buffering. Their fillrate was also around half that of the Voodoo1, but they would still have been price-competitive if RAM prices hadn't fallen through the floor and made the Voodoo Graphics board realistically obtainable.

      • Happy days, eh? I'd forgotten about the S3, the way you forgot about those things that Uncle Barney did to you that one Christmas.

        Best memory is Microsoft's EMEA D3D Evangelist (that was his actual job title) refusing to look at us showing the same demo running at twice the frame rate on a Voodoo using glide than using D3DIM. I mean, he literally wouldn't turn his eyes towards the screen, he just kept banging on about how D3DIM was inherently superior to the native API of the hardware, so we must be mis

      • I remember playing Tomb Raider accelerated on my 4 Meg S3 Virge and it was better than the PSX version (at the time a PSX was $300 and the Virge was $50).
  • At least we won't need to daisy chain the card with the graphics card, like you did with the original Voodoo Graphics PCI. Never did work properly on my system, I ended up just unplugging the monitor and plugging it directly in to the Voodoo when I was using it.

  • Way back when I had a Voodoo II, the only thing I ever wanted was a second card to do SLI. Alas, by the time I could actually afford it, it was more cost effective to fork out for a whole new graphics card (I actually got a Matrox G400Max -- Dualhead ftw!).

    If only I could run two copies of DosBox to somehow get SLI. I could finally achieve my old dream!

    • Ah, yes...the Voodoo2 SLI. I remember when I plugged in that second card, hooked up the SLI connector-ribbon and started up Unreal for the first time...Jeebus, I was in heaven. Few things in my life have compared to moment, save the birth of my children and getting married (which I somehow got out mom's basement long enough to accomplish).

      Shortly after I bought a P2 300 (overclocked to 450, ofc) and out of my group of friends I was untouchable at Q3 for a while.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fostware ( 551290 )

        Shortly after I bought a P2 300 (overclocked to 450, ofc) and out of my group of friends I was untouchable at Q3 for a while.

        Everyone else got the Celeron 300a's cos they overclocked with better heat dissapation.
        I never got the right Celeron 366 to hit the magic 550MHz.


        • Ah yes, it was the 300a with the BX chipset...I remember now, thank you. My next rig after that was dual celery 366 oc'd to 550 each...1100 MHz!! I bought that pre-configured from some online store and I later added RAM and it BSOD' the components had to be specific, apparently.

          I don't mess with all that customization of hardware anymore - overclocking and sound-activated neon lights in the case...who has time? Give me a Dell off the shelf and a decent video card and I'm set.

          Is this where I'm suppised

  • Somehow, I originally misread the title as "3dfx Voodoo Graphic Card Emulation Coming To DDoSBox". My thought was "Damn, those hackers will stop at nothing to shut down Amazon and eBay."
  • Memories :)

  • In the 90's, the two expensive peripheral cards I bought were, respectively, a 3DFX Voodoo video card, right before they went out of business, and a GadgetLabs Wave 4/24 sound card, right before *they* went out of business. Cutting edge fail!
  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    I'm confused, but confess I havent used DOSBox in years.

    The 3dfx cards were for windows only, they didnt have DOS drivers.

    What am I missing here?

    Now 3DFX emulation in Virtualbox running Win98 would be cool...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FreonTrip ( 694097 )
      There actually were DOS games that could take advantage of Glide. Descent II, Tomb Raider, and Mechwarrior II come to mind. My guess is that the executables were statically linked to a DOS-native implementation of Glide to communicate with whatever 3dfx card was present in the system.
    • by Runefox ( 905204 )

      No, the first 3DFX cards were actually DOS-based. I know that Jetfighter III was the first one I'd run across, but there's plenty of other examples, like the original Tomb Raider.

      That said, supposedly, it's also possible to run Win9x on DOSBox, too, though it isn't supported and I can't pull up a real how-to.

  • by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @10:11AM (#33960596) Homepage Journal

    Since GoG packages some of their games by wrapping them up in an optimally-configured DOS emulator, this is actually quite exciting for their customers, in terms of future potential.

  • Graphics, yeah, whatever.

    I've got two of these [] sound cards that would've cost an obscene amount of money 12 years ago. The last fully functional drivers for them were for Win98, so their previous owners just tossed them in the trash and I picked them up for free.

    Nowadays Creative, the litigious bastards that killed Aureal off, sells cards twice as expensive, half as capable, and with worse drivers than the average winmodem.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell