|Some of you guys asked me about an update on the project, where i told “I would post it next month” and well it happend to be now… Anyways.
I have for a long time ben laying around with a quantum3d aalchemy module, but had no luck getting any of the 200SBI cards. But here a half year ago did a thought come to my mind, would it be possible to somehow manage to connect other cards than the 200SBI’s to the AA module?
Now do i/we finally have the answer, YES, yes it’s possible. But how? Well it’s a complicated, and how we exacly have done it will I explain later in this post. But first of all am i gonna admit that using the exact word “Quad SLI” for this, might be wrong. Since this only works for hardware accelerated Antialiasing ONLY. The AA module is doing 4 tap rotated grid anti-aliasing. Which means this will give a better picture quality, but NOT making the games run faster.
When that is told, will you be able to have full hardware accelerated Super-Sampling rotated grid 2xFSAA! And if you are used to having it turned on. Now can you turn it off again. Because the AA module is full hardware accelerated and will be doing it anyway.
As you can see on the pictures, is there mounted a daugther board on each card, this board is our “raiser card” what it does is taking the the signal from the location on the PCB where the missing “Silicon Image” chip was supposed to be. And converting it into the IMG LDB information that the AA module understand. The daugther board has a fast programmable IC chip from Cypress, which control timing and responds the the AA modules acknowledgements. We are also using the IC to force the video signal, normally did the 200SBI cards send an “stop pending” request when it did go into 2D mode. But since the VSA 100 chips supports 2D do we simply just not send the request. It works almost fine, must admit we have got some Blue Screen Of Death’s and blurred images now and then. But it happens randomly when it goes into 2D mode/windows, dont know why yet, but we may be able to fix it in the future.As you can see is there also wires connected to the on-board CCIR video-input. That was Johnny Anschuetz idea! I wasnt really satifiied with it since it also included cutting onboard PCB connections. But he managed to replace the onboard “ATMEL 12JC” chip with a programmable “XLILX CoolRunner II” chip. Which controls the channel shifting, and nothing more. Since we are running this AA system in “single-channel” are many of the pins for no use, we have even reserved some of the pins to the programming interface. As you also can see is there some lose wires onto the CCIR Video Connector on the backside, it’s some wires from the Cypress IC on the daugtherboard. Those wires is for the timing.
A dear friend of mine (Yes i’m talking about you Gorlik) have modified the SFFT Alpha driver to be compitable with the custom firmwares. Thanks to him, do we almost have a completly working DX8 support and full OpenGL and Glide support. Tho some games doesnt run. We are still having truble with JP Trespasser, Need For Speed Road Challange, Quake III and some other titles. But it seems to be an issue with the PCI bus. But yet again, we will be working on it and hopefully somehow manage to fix it soon.
About our test setup:
Tyan Thunder 2500
Yes, it’s my “Untimate year 2000 build i used for this, as told, i had “plans”.
We have tested a lot of games on it and some worked better than others, but we ended up deciding to use “Minecraft” for the Anti-Aliasing tests. First lof all was we real exited about it even could run Minecraft, but also because minecraft actually was the best game to see the Anti-Aliasing improvements in. We are using minecraft beta 1.7.3. Wich is the newest version we where able to run, never minecraft versions does not work with the Voodoo5500, it has horrible texture errors.
One of the cool things about using Minecraft for testing is that Minecraft does not normally support any Anti-Aliasing, but with the magic of 3dfx and Quantum3D is it now possible!
I had to use a camera to take the comparason pictures, because it is not possible to see the Anti-Aliasing on screenshots, because the magic happens after the AA module. For having the most accurate camara locations, did I walk around until i got the right in-game camera position. Then did i quit and saved the game. After that did i make 5 backups of the Minecraft level save. Every time i had to take a picture, did i load one of the backups and turned the mouse upside-down. Because of that did I almost have the exactly same camera and sky position for all the comparison pictures!
FSAA – Anti-Aliasing levels.
No FSAA (Single Voodoo 5500 Card)
This picture above was taken with only one Voodoo 5500 card, and thers no Anti-Aliasing at all. This is the default pixelated look of minecraft.
2x FSAA (No FSAA enabled)
Here is a picture from when the “Quad Voodoo5500 Brick” is working. Thers no FSAA enabled in the 3dfx settings. But cuz of the AA Module is there a Anti-Aliased image equivalent to 2x FSAA.
4x FSAA (2x FSAA enabled)
Here is yet another picture, this time is there enabled 2x FSAA in the 3dfx settings, but cuz of the AA Module is the image now equivalent to 4x FSAA.
8x FSAA (4x FSAA enabled)
Now for the final picture! here is 4x FSAA enabled in the 3dfx settings. But the image is at freaking 8x FSAA cuz of the AA module! This was what only a Voodoo5 6000 could do! The “smooth” lines made it almost impossible for my camera to focus on the pixels. But after some rolads did i finally manage to get a “okay” picture just in time.
Wil ltry to do some more comparisons in other games, and maybe test how this setup stand against a Voodoo5 6000 at 8x FSAA.
Even if thers a lot of bugs to be fixed i must admit that i’m real proud of how this project turned out, coudnt have done it without these awesome guys!
Special thanks to:
Johnny Anschuetz – For Firmware and Chip programming.
And thanks to all the other guys out there who i havnt mentioned, but in other ways have supported the 3dfx community.