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3dfx slides Napalm/Voodoo4 back a quarter

Nvidia, S3 rub hands at prospect of Napalm-free Xmas

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3dfx CEO Greg Ballard has confirmed that the next generation of the company's Voodoo 3D acceleration technology, codenamed Napalm, has been delayed. Ballard's latest statement, posted as an email on a public financial forum (assuming it's genuine, of course), said that 3dfx has begun to "inform investors that we have determined that Napalm will not ship in the fourth quarter or if it does, [it will be] too late in the quarter to have a meaningful impact on revenues. We now expect it to ship in mid-February, with an outside chance of mid-March." The sad tale gets worse. Ballard's email suggests we should all expect 3dfx to lose in both its third and fourth fiscal quarters. The reason: the company's revenues will remain static, but its margins will decline. Actually, Ballard admits even revenues may fall -- by up to ten per cent -- though even that is looking optimistic. By failing to deliver Napalm, 3dfx will enter the holiday season with its Voodoo 3 range, which is fast but will soon be going up against faster (and certainly much, much better looking) technologies from Nvidia and S3, specifically the GeForce 256 and Savage 2000, respectively. 3dfx still has the old Voodoo brand recognition on its side, but it will be interesting to see how much that counts compared to the slicker output of rival products. Of course, with OEM deals now the name of the game, retail sales are much less important to 3D companies than once they were. Christmas PCs will have already been designed and orders for 3D parts taken, so Napalm was probably never going to figure too highly in 3dfx's revenue projections anyway. Still, getting new technologies out of the door are key to winning OEM business, so 3dfx needs to get its act together here -- running great-looking T-buffer technology on four Voodoo 2 cards isn't the same as running it on real silicon. According to Ballard, all existing problems with the Napalm silicon have been resolved, and the company feels "very good" about the current schedule. They should be: Ballard also said Q1 and Q2 2000 will be "very strong" quarters for the company and would lead its return to profitability. ®

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