3dfx prototype and pre-production Voodoo 3
A word about the cards on these pages- To generalize they are boards that were manufactured by 3dfx direct and not yet available to the general public. The boards fall into a number of different categories and I'll try to explain each type as they come up.
Developer kit boards- 3dfx sent developer kits out to the various companies that made video cards, included in the kits of course would have been several sample boards known as "reference" cards. Before 3dfx came along most third party board makers seemed to make their own PCB designs. After the Voodoo Graphics and Voodoo II hit the market and there were so many players involved in selling cards most manufactures could not afford to "be different" and were content to sell cards based off the reference design (a trend that continues to this day.)
Perfect example of boards *most likely* from developer kits below would be the Voodoo II & Banshee with SDRAM. They are clearly pre-production due to date codes and/or internal 3dfx markings and production cards from a number of companies follow their design.
Press "preview" boards? Less certain of being developer kit boards would be the Banshee with SGRAM and the black PCB Voodoo 3 as those PCB design numbers are rarely if ever seen. Build dates, bios revisions or PCB features clearly indicate they are not production cards... this is an area I have to look into further to find out where these cards fit into the scheme of things. It's possible these two cards are samples that were sent out to the press for "preview." The only place I have seen these two PCB designs were in such articles and will show the "press" versions for comparison. Another note about press cards... writers liked to use terms like "Alpha" & "Beta" samples like the cards were software which I do not know if is a correct description or note. I'm going to check with several sites that did previews and see if 3dfx actually used those terms or the writers of the articles did.
Engineering samples- First run hardware samples, proposed designs that were intended for sale but never released to market or engineering exercises.
Perfect examples of first run hardware below would be the brown PCB Voodoo 3 and Daytona 32 MB DDR. The V5-6000 is a good example of hardware that was a dropped (falling into this category would be also the V5-5000 32 MB) The Voodoo 3 MCM was from an internal engineering exercise at 3dfx to see how small a PCB could be utilized, it is a very rare piece!
Prototype Voodoo 3- (42-98 date code) A0 revision board, has "AVENGER" notation in bios and ram rated for 166 mhz operation but clocked at 143 mhz, works perfect. This board showed up on Ebay but I didn't participate in auction, after examining the pictures posted and asking the buyer a few questions I made an offer he could not refuse ;-)
PCI test board with no V3 chip dated 44-98
PCI SGRAM board with late model heatsink I installed, works, 44-98 date.
143 mhz PCI board with SDRAM and TV-out dated 45-98
Prototype Voodoo 3- (52-98 date code) non-production 64k bios, ram rated for 166 mhz operation but not stable, currently clocked at 143 mhz and functions well.
Notice the circle in the middle of the chip? Early samples used a heat spreader instead of a heatsink while in the lab and the circle is the area where they came in contact with the chip. PCB and ASSY #650-0050-01
143 mhz PCI card with an odd twist- this board has an external ramdac! 02-99 date
Rarest of the early V3 prototypes- A functioning 183 mhz board & fan. (04-99)
Pre-production (05-99 date code) Voodoo 3 clocked at 164 mhz card (notice triple Voodoo 3 logo). Interesting on this board is it has a black PCB, fan header location and poking around the bios has revealed the internal 3dfx name for the V3 "AVENGER". PCB #900-0050-03 ASSY: 950-0050-04 Click here to see screenshot of 3dfx tools info, click here to see press version of same card.
A very unique V3! This one comes equipped with TV out & flat panel display support! 05-99 date
V3-2000 engineering sample (05-99 date code), a gift from Ex-STB employee visiting my site. This card is equipped with 7 ns Fujitsu ram! It would be the only 3dfx card I have ever seen equipped with Fujitsu ram.
A number of cards like the V3-2000 shown above were released in promo boxes like this to the press for review before regular sales began. The promo cards all seem to have the same date (09-99) and decal layout with similar text.
V3-2000 with TV-out, 09-99 PCB date (not for resale tagged)
V3-3000 with no TV out (Gift from Nvidia employee, not for resale tagged, 11-99 date)
V3-2000 PCI (not for resale tagged, 12-99 date)
An interesting board dated 15-99- What looks like a V3-3000 isn't but a engineering sample V3-3500! I made some inquiries after obtaining the card in a package deal. Looking close I was mildly surprised to see -5.5 ram instead of -6 ram. Installing the board it booted up and is clocked at 183 mhz! Looking at the bios it is NOT a V3-3500 TV bios. Contacting an ex-3dfx engineer he indicated that 3dfx did indeed investigate the possibility of selling a 183 mhz board based on the 2000/3000 PCB. The problem is there was a error in the design of the power ground plane of the PCB and the PCB as supplied was of poor quality. 3dfx could not guarantee proper stable function of a 183 mhz board using this PCB so this configuration never saw the light of day in the retail market...
V3-2000 PCI board with VGA & DVI output, DVI development board from 3dfx engineer, (16-99 date)
Rare Compaq 3500 with DVI connector: The story goes that 3dfx was developing a DVI board for high end Compaq's and it was dropped at the last minute. (dated 19-99)
Velocity 100, not for resale tagged, 24-99 dated, 210-0380-001-A0 PCB.
How about a blank V3 SGRAM PCI PCB?
V3-3500TV dated "25-99" tagged "Not for resale"
Included with the 3500 above was this prototype breakout cable.
Voodoo 3 MCM- 1 of less then 12 engineering samples testing feasibility of manufacturing very small PCB V3 board, ram is located under V3 chip! Date code 26-99, PCB #600-0076-01 Rev. A. Dimensions are 6" long x 2" wide.
The advertised but never seen Velocity 200!
Part of a lot purchase from a former 3dfx board employee, I was very surprised when this board booted up and noted the video board bios display. 3dfx had actually advertised them on their website but it is thought none were ever sold, nor had any been seen till now. This unit has a V3 chip at 143 mhz with 16MB of ram and both TMU's enabled. The Velocity 100 has only 8 MB of ram and 1 TMU enabled. The Velocity 200 PCB date is 32-99.
This was a surprise- I made a lot buy of several cards from a seller out on the west coast and he mentioned that a pair of 3500 cards were included in the deal. I didn't think much of it since 3500 cards are a dime a dozen now and I was more interested in the Quantum3D cards that were in the box.... but when I unwrapped the 3500's later... WoW. The cards are clocked at 200 mhz and have installed fans! It don't think it's a Falcon Northwest card since they have a different bios number, different ram and no fan of course.... but the ram pieces on these boards may be hand selected since on one card it ran all the way up to 220 mhz perfect before I chickened out.
No this is not a V3-3500 but it sure looks like one doesn't it? You are looking at a prototype VELOCITY TNT 4400-TV! I say prototype since STB never sold one to the general public and this one has quite a bit of hand reworking!
Now if you remember after 3dfx purchased STB in late 1998 that all the V3-2000 and V3-3000 AGP boards sure did look like Velocity 4400 boards. I suspect to get things rolling, 3dfx decided to adapt the Velocity 4400 PCB to the Voodoo 3 chip. Now STB had this TV design on the books before 3dfx made their purchase (board is dated just weeks before the 3dfx purchase) and it looks like the 3500 was based off this PCB and early prototypes of the 3500 are dead ringers for this card.
As a kicker the card works perfect with the 3500 A/V pod.