3dfx Voodoo Emulation In the Works - Technology News
DOSBox is arguably the best PC-with-DOS emulator available today. It's great for playing older 1980s and early 1990s PC games. But some later 1990s titles exist in a sort of grey area—too complex for DOSBox, but not necessarily available in Windows 7-compatible versions either.
Now a new hack aims to change that. The next version of DOSBox will feature a software implementation of SST-1, 3dfx Interactive's seminal Voodoo Graphics chipset from 1996, according to a Slashdot post. Head programmer "Kekko" is working with the DOSBox team and a group of VOGONS board users to develop a faithful emulation of the historically important 3D graphics accelerator cards.
This may seem like an odd choice for a project. But any hardcore gamer from the 1990s remembers how significant 3dfx was. Some of us are still recovering from the company's rather spectacular downfall. Kekko said that by adding Voodoo chipset emulation to DOSBox, it will improve compatibility with many significant titles from that era, increase portability, and add Direct3D support for Windows 95 and 98 games. It also integrates directly with DOSBox's internal renderer, meaning that full screen mode and video capture would still operate.
For now, it appears SST-1 emulation works exceedingly well. A quick run-through in the forum shows that over a dozen games, including Quake III: Arena, X-Wing Collectors Series (with the updated Windows 95 engine), Grand Theft Auto, and Tomb Raider 5 are all up and running. However, the additional code slows DOSBox itself to a crawl.
To remedy this problem, Sir Arthur's Den reports that the group is now develping a multi-threaded architecture to split the work between different CPU cores, as well as offload some of it to the GPU. They're also improving compatibility for Glide games under DOS.
You can bet we'll be keeping a close eye on this project.