A hardware modder, and apparent graphics accelerator historian who goes by Anthony, has built a clone of the Voodoo 5 6000, an insane graphics card that did actually exist at one point, but only within the walls of 3dfx HQ. The quad-GPU card was never released to the public, leaving us forever wondering what might have been.
Anthony posted the details of his nifty reverse engineering efforts on Mod Labs (via HotHardware), noting the cloned card does not have an official name just yet. However, it shares the same hardware specifications as the Voodoo 5 6000, including four VSA-100 graphics chips operating at 166MHz and a regular PCI (read: not PCI Express) interface.
It also features 128MB of video memory, also operating at 166MHz (though the 5ns memory chips are capable of racing along at 200MHz).
Amazingly enough, this is a working card, outfitted with the same BIOS and driver support as the original prototype. Anthony also claims the cloned card does not suffer the same full-screen anti-aliasing issues as the original card, likely because the modding community has put out newer drivers that resolved some of the earlier bugs.
For anyone who is not familiar with 3dfx, the company was a pioneer in 3D graphics acceleration for the PC. My first ever graphics card was a Voodoo 3 2000, which I stuck inside a Compaq with a Pentium MMX 200MHz processor. Good times.
Nvidia began the process of acquiring 3dfx towards the end of 2000, and a couple years later the company became a footnote in the history of computer graphics. It was around that time 3dfx built a Voodoo 5 6000 prototype.
Technically, the VSA-100 is a graphics co-processor. Nvidia likes to lay claim to releasing the first true GPU (graphics processing unit) with its GeForce 256. Call it what you want, a graphics card sporting four VSA-100 chips is an impressive feat, even if it never launched to the public.
It’s also tame by today’s standards, naturally.
Each VSA-100 on the Voodoo 5 6000 was built on a 250nm manufacturing process, had a die size of 112mm2, and packed around 14 million transistors. To put that into perspective, Nvidia’s latest generation GA102 Ampere GPU found on the GeForce RTX 3090 has a die size of 628.4mm2 and wields 28 billion transistors.
Anthony says the cloned card is part of a first batch, and that a second batch is planned, perhaps with an upgrade to AGP or PCI Express. There will also be boxes for these cards, suggesting Anthony might sell these to anyone interested.