3dfx Voodoo5 5500 Quad SLI

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.
Thanks to Johnny Anschuetz, who did modify the firmware on the cards. He did make a special firmware for each card, as all the cards have a half-scaled grid of super-sampling. I did send him the cards, and Johnny Anschuetz firmware updated them, as the cards by default have different static sub-sample grid positions. Just like the 200SBI’s had when they run in brick mode. But because of the diffrent sub-sample grid positions now are “hardcoded” in the firmware, is it very important to have the cards in a specific order to run, or else will the AA module go in protection mode. Trust me, i learned it the hard way.
Also on the first time instilation did i need to use a primary card in the AGP slot, before the drivers for the diffrent cards where installed. And even when thats told was it a hell to get it running, i had to reinstall Windows 2000 Advanced Server 3 times cuz of bad driver installations which coursed Blue Screen Of Death.

 

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

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.

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

About our test setup:

Specs:

Tyan Thunder 2500
8Gb Reg ECC RAM.
2x 1Ghz Pentium III
Quantum3D Aalchemy Module (AA Module)
4x Modded Voodoo5500 PCI
4x Quantum Atlas 10KII 18,4Gb SCSI drives (in RAID 10)
Windows 2000 Advanced Server

Yes, it’s my “Untimate year 2000 build i used for this, as told, i had “plans”.
Cuz of some limitations in the AA module is it not possible to have a resolution higher than 1024×768.

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.

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

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)

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

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)

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

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)

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

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)

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

3dfx voodoo 5 5500 quad sli mod quantum3d mercury brick test performance

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.

Final Words

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.
Gorlik – For modefying drivers.
Andrew Andersen – For donating his Voodoo 5500 PCi for the project.

And thanks to all the other guys out there who i havnt mentioned, but in other ways have supported the 3dfx community.


-EDIT
Hope you had a nice reading… Hehe.  As many of you 3dfx die-hard fans allready know. This post is just a old april-fool i once made. None of this is real, it’s 100% photoshop.