To the horror of reviewers of PC games, they've been left behind; the fastest 3DFX video accelerator to hit the market will be so quick, it will reach real customers before it reaches the magazines. It is the Voodoo II chipset; not expected until April, it's going to be available this week in the US, courtesy of Creative Labs and Diamond Multimedia.
Between the two companies, they have brought forward the expected shipment date of Voodoo II chips from April to February, with first Creative "3D Blaster Voodoo2" shipping in the first week of March, and Diamond hoping to release its "Monster 3D II" around the same time.
Diamond is already accepting "pre-orders" on its Web site without revealing the likely price; Creative Labs is shipping two versions, as of Feb 20 in the US at $229 and as of March 2nd in the UK from £179 including VAT for an 8 meg card, and £229 ($299 in the US) for the 16 meg card "for truly serious gamers."
The reason they've been able to get so far ahead of schedule is truly simple: they spend half a million dollars on a gamble.
"We were told by 3DFX that they had a problem, back in November, and that they were pretty sure they'd fixed it," said Chris Boyce at Creative. "But they said they'd have to make a sample run of a couple of thousand chips, and then if they were OK, they'd set up a full-scale production process for April delivery. Or alternatively, they said, we could take a risk; we could fund a full-scale production now, and gamble on it working. We went for it; we put up about a quarter of a million dollars, and so did Diamond Multimedia."
The gamble, apparently, paid off; the chips are fine, and shipping.