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3dfx not retreating from graphics card market

They're just advancing to the rear

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Image credit: Eurogamer

When 3dfx recently announced that they were selling their Mexican factory in Juarez, hoping to put an end to the two year nightmare that they have been living since taking over board manufacturer STB and starting to exclusively design, manufacture and sell their own boards, most people (ourselves included) took it as a sign that 3dfx were retreating from the graphics card market entirely. In future they would sell only the chips that power the boards, and third party manufacturers would build and sell the actual graphics cards themselves. The truth, it emerges, is not quite so clear cut...

Yes, 3dfx are selling their Juarez plant. And yes, they are licensing their chipsets to other companies, but only in Asia at the moment. We shouldn't expect to see Voodoo graphics cards from the likes of ELSA, Creative Labs and Guillemot any time soon though. Instead 3dfx are expecting somebody else to buy the Juarez facility from them, and they will then contract out the actual manufacturing of the boards to whoever the lucky purchaser is. This sounds rather less promising than what we had originally assumed, as 3dfx will still be exclusively marketing their own boards in Europe and the USA, it's just that now somebody else will be running the plant which makes them.

"There's a difference between not making your card and not manufacturing your card", according to 3dfx spin doctor Bubba Wolford. "Our facility isn't closed; it's still open and still making cards. If we can find somebody else to actually take the silicon, take the [circuit boards], slap them together, and sell it cheaper than we can do ourselves, then for the sake of returning to profitability we have to look at that."

Whether this half-hearted back-tracking will prove to be a successful strategy remains to be seen though, and it certainly doesn't mark a return to the company's golden age, when Voodoo graphics cards could be bought from any one of a dozen different manufacturers in various configurations. It also leaves the rest of the graphics card industry safely in the hands of arch-rival NVIDIA, who remain the only major player to license their chipsets to third party manufacturers.

Source - CNet Gamecenter

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