3dfx's top-of-the-range Voodoo 5 5500 graphics card won't be of much use to gamers keen on getting their hands on Intel's top-of-the-range Pentium 4.
While the 5500's VSA-100 3D graphics chip and its drivers are fully compatible with P4 and Screaming Sindy's second set of Extensions, the card isn't compatible with P4 mobos, 3dfx has admitted.
Voodoo 3 cards are incompatible too. Only Voodoo 4 boards can be plugged into P4-equipped PCs.
"3dfx does not advise the purchase either Voodoo 3 or Voodoo 5 products for Pentium 4 systems," the company has warned its customers.
This surprised us. Heck, we thought, isn't AGP a standard now - and plug'n'play solution at that? Turns out, it is... sort of. The AGP 1x, 2x and 4x specs. all provide for multiple connector slots, depending on the voltage drawn by the add-in card.
And Intel's P4 mobos don't support 3.3V signalling - even though that's part of Intel's own AGP spec.
3dfx's P4 FAQ shows the problem rather neatly, but to summarise: 3dfx's Voodoo 4 4500 has a universal AGP edge connector - it's got two guide notches cut into it - and so will connect to 3.3V, 1.5V and Universal AGP ports. The Voodoo 3 and Voodoo 5 5500 boards, on the other hand, have 3.3V edge connectors - you can tell from the single guide slot at the back-plane end of the card - and so won't fit into 1.5V AGP ports.
And... er... Intel's P4 mobos only have 1.5V AGP ports. Had Intel implemented universal ports, 3dfx wouldn't have run into trouble.
However, it's the only 3D company that appears to have. ATI's Radeon boards all appear to sport universal edge connectors, as do its Rage 128 Pro boards. Nvidia's reference boards also appear to use universal edge connectors.
Anyone seeking someone to blame should really shout at both Intel And 3dfx. Chipzilla should get a ticking off for not implementing a universal port on its mobos - 3dfx for assuming Intel would do just that.
But where does all this leave Voodoo 3 and 5 owners? Awaiting non-Intel P4-compatible mobos - and there's no guarantee any of them will have universal AGP slots - or upgrading to an AMD system.
And this is what we give up on PCI for... ®