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#26 2015-01-06 18:10:04

MJ313
Member
Registered: 2014-09-23
Posts: 498

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

I think there's another one in the wild. This is mkc9700's PEx page from long ago.

http://www.isellmacs.com/macsystems.htm

Last edited by MJ313 (2015-01-06 18:58:38)

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#27 2015-01-06 18:18:58

Eudimorphodon
Member
Registered: 2014-09-02
Posts: 525

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

jt wrote:

edit: I wonder if one of the things that made Beige cheaper to build was the off the shelf ATI component? Might the Apple AISICs on ____PEx_EVT4 have been far more powerful. Some of the info I've dug up leans me tooward thinking in that direction.

I rather doubt anything Apple proprietary would have been better than the Rage II-series; the built-in video on all the 7/8x00 series was minimally accelerated with the VRAM controller (to my knowledge) basically just supporting some DMA memory transfer functions that allowed devices like the video capture hardware or the optional QuickDraw 3D accellerator card to shove data directly into the framebuffer without burdening the CPU. But, well, I have no idea off the top of the head what the ASICs on the PEx prototypes do; for all I know one of them might include an upgraded version of the QuickDraw accellerator hardware. Even then, though, I'd still have doubts about it being better than the ATI Rage. (I know the Rage II/Pro isn't very well respected today because of limitations with its 3D hardware, but during its era it was always one of the best 2D accellerators on the market.) "Chipsets" have never really been one of Apple's core competencies.

Again, maybe Apple pulled of a miracle and abandoned it for cost reasons, but most of the literature about the PEx claims the design was canned because the Gossamer with all its cheap off-the-shelf bits ran rings around Apple's overly-complicated NIH design. Truth is undoubtedly somewhere in the middle.


Flap Different.

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#28 2015-01-06 21:55:50

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,406

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

"Speed isn't really my concern as far as the MoBo video of any mac. My desktop requires a VidCard that'll do 1600x1200x24bit@60Hz minimum, that's a given. I'm wondering if there was mad flexibility lurking under the tops of those ASICs.

Two pairs of Video ASICs are involved, one set is used for the NTSC/PAL Video processing of the VCI Slot and another pair for Apple's homebrewed DA-19 output flavor.

VCI also stands for Videocipher I which is likely wholly unrelated. However, I'm almost certain those four ASICs and the system VRAM are a four harness team doing stage coach relay duty between VCI and DA-19 Mac video.

The 9500 never had the 8500/Nitro Video capabilities, did the 8600 or 9600? Did the 8600 or 9600 go for broke in VidCap?

840AV->8500/Nitro->9700 Video/Sound/Imaging Pro Workstation would fit the heights of Apple's every other generation attempts with the likes of the NuBus PPC's awful A/V cards filling the furrows.

Did Apple have a pro level content workstation that was killed because "Personality Cards" were "good enough?"

<   hits Submit to head back from lunch >



http://www.macinfo.de/hardware/boards-g2.html#nitro

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#29 2015-01-06 22:40:03

bbraun
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Registered: 2014-05-29
Posts: 1,064
Website

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Oh man, if anyone comes across a videocypher (I or II) encoder, totally hook me up.  I need to add some scrambled cable to my house tv network.

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#30 2015-01-06 23:10:10

Eudimorphodon
Member
Registered: 2014-09-02
Posts: 525

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

jt wrote:

Speed isn't really my concern as far as the MoBo video of any mac. My desktop requires a VidCard that'll do 1600x1200x24bit@60Hz minimum, that's a given. I'm wondering if there was mad flexibility lurking under the tops of those ASICs.

Well, the desktop size question is obvious; to do what you want the built-in ASICs would need to support at least 8MB of VRAM. As to "Mad flexibility" I'm not sure what you mean by that.

The 9500 never had the 8500/Nitro Video capabilities, did the 8600 or 9600? Did the 8600 or 9600 go for broke in VidCap?

840AV->8500/Nitro->9700 Video/Sound/Imaging Pro Workstation would fit the heights of Apple's every other generation attempts with the likes of the NuBus PPC's awful A/V cards filling the furrows.

Did Apple have a pro level content workstation that was killed because "Personality Cards" were "good enough?"

The built-in video capture stuff on the (7/8)(5/6)00 was *never* "pro level" by any stretch of the imagination. It was implemented with custom ASICs but its capabilities are pretty much the same as those as a bog-standard (and incredibly cheap) Brooktree 848-family device. As for the output stage that only came on the 8000 series models, well, it's a rudimentary "second head" with simple scaling capabilites and an NTSC/PAL encoder after the DAC. (Again, something straight off the TV-out stage of almost any VGA card that offers composite/Svideo out.) It was primarily designed for simple video conferencing and in-house presentation use, no "Pro" would use it in place of a proper AVID (or whatever) setup. I can't imagine what they would have stuffed on a PEX would have been much better.


Flap Different.

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#31 2015-01-07 02:22:35

Captain Z
Member
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: 2015-01-07
Posts: 3

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Well, isn’t this a blast from the past… it’s been many years since I looked at my PowerExpress units. Earlier today, MJ contacted me out of the blue, and directed me to this thread.

A long time ago, I was in the process of trying to compile information about the PEx units, get them working somehow. Unfortunately, I had to take the site down in early ’07, when I applied to work for Apple shortly after graduating college. (Kinda a problem to run a site about computers that were never meant to be seen by the public.) I never got the job, but my lack of time or energy left it to gather dust for almost the last decade.

Old PEx website

I’ve put the site back online, however it’s still sorta broken and in need of some time and effort toward modernization. Perhaps I can get around to doing that at some point, or at the very least take some higher resolution pictures and a revise some of my theories on the chipsets and board revisions.

BTW, good to see your still kicking around this place JT. Been a long time since we met back in '04.

Last edited by Captain Z (2015-01-07 02:24:24)

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#32 2015-01-07 02:55:36

LCGuy
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From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-13
Posts: 812

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Welcome Captain Z! Good to see you on here. (I used to be maclover5 back in the day)

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#33 2015-01-07 03:17:41

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,406

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Welcome back, Z! How the heck did you get that many PEx systems?

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#34 2015-01-07 03:32:48

Captain Z
Member
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: 2015-01-07
Posts: 3

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

jt wrote:

Welcome back, Z! How the heck did you get that many PEx systems?

I still only have the two. The EVT4 PowerExpress unit and the EVT1A PEx Manhattan unit. The other two units I showed pictures of were from the only other units I found pictures of at the time (the EVT2 units were your board, and the Digibarn complete unit, the EVT3 unit was one posted on AppleFritter at some point).

Beyond that, the only other prototype Apple items I have are a 'Cashel' prototype for either the TV tuner or FM tuner card, and the "Fireblast" prototype Firewire A/V card.

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#35 2015-01-07 03:37:51

uniserver
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From: Sf, Mi
Registered: 2014-05-15
Posts: 955
Website

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

so basically jobs showed up, and said scrap all this bull,   and then the G3 B&W was made up?
PowerMacG3.jpg


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#36 2015-01-07 15:37:25

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,406

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Nope, that would have been the Beige G3 era, the B&W went into developed as the next generation Pro "Tower" during the BeigeAge.

< drops gadfly visage for a change to give credit where credit's due >

SJ showed up and did the right thing for Apple and its stockholders by killing R&D in areas that weren't absolutely vital to Apple's profitability/survival. I'd need to fact check the timeline linked earlier in the thread, but off the top of my head, projects like Pippin(?), the Set Top Box(?), Newton(?) and PEx immediately achieved legendary status with enthusiasts and became the much beloved treasures of collectors because of that (at that time) absolutely necessary focus on products that would reboot Apple as "the computer for the rest of us." Dearth of Slots for Pros was finally addressed to an extent by the addition of a slot to the PowerMac G4 Digital Audios and and finally the release of a full blown ProTower in the G5 era.

EveryMac wrote:

.  .  .  "three open full-length PCI-X slots: one 133MHz, 64-bit slot and two 100MHz, 64-bit slots", an 8X AGP Pro slot that "supports up to 2-GBps data throughput" and is occupied by the graphics card, as well as expansion slots for AirPort Extreme (802.11g) and Bluetooth 1.1.

I haven't got either yet, but the G5 would be the perfect right side bookend for the left bookend 9600 of the "MissingPEx/ProTower" dark ages of Content Production on the Mac.

Settling for a bare MissingPEx/Protower MoBo as a substitute for the bookends of that era suits me just fine. cool

Last edited by jt (2015-01-07 15:59:24)

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#37 2015-01-07 18:40:37

trag
Member
Registered: 2015-01-07
Posts: 12

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

One of those PEx images shows a spot for a chip labeled "control".   Control was one of the two main chips used in the on-board video/video capture circuitry on the 7500/8500.  The two chips were Chaos and Control.   I don't how functions were divided amongst them.    It would be interesting to compare chip part numbers (from the populated PEx) and find out whether the PEx designers were actually reusing that old chip, or just named a chip with similar functionality the same name.  The footprint on the board looks about right for the old chip.

I also spotted a Cuda chip (ADB control, 341S0060) in one of the PEx photos, but strangely, I think it's an older version.   I'm pretty sure there were the 0060 version in early Quadras and it was replaced at some point with an 0788 or something like that.  Just checked  a photo on line, and yeah, the latest Cuda chip was 0788, not the 0060 on the PEx.   Maybe they just used some old stock they had on hand?

It would also be of interest to have a more detailed photo of the populated PEx board, as those eight rectangular chips are almost certainly VRAM.   Identify them, multiply by 8 and you'll know the amount of on-board VRAM.    I doubt it will live up to jt's 8MB wish, but it might.  There are eight chips there.  If they used their old standby, they'll be 512KB chips, though.  Still, 4MB of VRAM is not too shabby.

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#38 2015-01-07 19:52:00

haplain
Member
From: SF Bay
Registered: 2014-05-23
Posts: 25
Website

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

jt wrote:

I thought I'd post this one just to give you a minor case of the heebie-jeebies, hap. wink

EVT level info of the hapPEx___?___
Identity the hapPEx Video Card: _____?_____
Specs of hapPEx Prototype Processor Card:______?_____

< unsuccessfully attempts to control a major case of the aforementioned malady. roll >

I'm not sure of the EVT level of mine, but based on how bare the board looks, probably pretty early.

Video card, not sure of as well. Nothing special/something I picked up on eBay with a VGA connector for it.

Spec of processor is a 275Mhz, EVT unit, marked as such on the CPU card itself.



The PEx is running standard 8.5 OS. I was having the issue of the date/time prompt coming up on startup but couldn't click the OK, as that would not show up. What I do to push it past is force quit the finder, then it moves past the date/time prompt and to the desktop. From there is works great with no issues I've found thus far. I could/should probably throw some more RAM in it. I believe there is only 128MB total... Hope we can get another one of these monsters working.

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#39 2015-01-07 20:19:36

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,406

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

THX, hap. smile

Any chance you could be persuaded to run TattleTech reports on it to post here the next time you fire it up again?

It looks like Balrog posted all the info needed to do a dump the contents of your ROMs on that page as well. wink



edit: Check the PLCCkickstarterROM corner of your board. It looks like y0u've got the Rev A MoBo with the same boxes checked as mine.

jtPEx _________________________________________________________________________________

QLHSLv.jpg
full size: http://imageshack.com/a/img540/1069/QLHSLv.jpg

@ Captain Z: with that Big@$$ EVTA sticker on my board, why have you been calling it EVT2 all along?

.  .  .  and what the hell does Batch A/Barcode - EVTA mean anyway? tongue

Last edited by jt (2015-01-07 20:30:27)

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#40 2015-01-07 21:11:14

haplain
Member
From: SF Bay
Registered: 2014-05-23
Posts: 25
Website

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

What does EVT mean....? Well glad you asked about that.

Evaluation Verification Testing (round A) that is the EARLIEST stage of any kind of testing Apple does. EVT is the holy grail for protos as they usually differ in so many ways from a stock unit. EVT>DVT>PVT (Evaluation>Design>Product Verification Testing). First is make sure that boards, components, circuitry all work together, there is not fitment or any other kind of silly/strange issue (this is where/what a lot of clear shot units are/acrylic units if they are newer). Then design, make sure the case it goes into works, standoffs are good, etc (typically smooth plastic is seen here, if at all). Then product which is the final version of what one could/would expect to see on the market as a final version of the product.

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#41 2015-01-07 21:35:16

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,406

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Cool beans! big_smile Thanks, hap. This thread is shaping up to be quite the nice stepping stone on the Quest for PEx!

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#42 2015-01-07 21:38:45

haplain
Member
From: SF Bay
Registered: 2014-05-23
Posts: 25
Website

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Indeed, got some good momentum. I'm happy to help as much as I can. I'm totally a hardware guy, software always kicks me butt. We'll get your up and running.

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#43 2015-01-08 00:02:56

Captain Z
Member
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: 2015-01-07
Posts: 3

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

jt wrote:

@ Captain Z: with that Big@$$ EVTA sticker on my board, why have you been calling it EVT2 all along?

.  .  .  and what the hell does Batch A/Barcode - EVTA mean anyway? tongue


From what I recall from 10 years ago, your board originated in a 9600-series chassis, and was being switched out or something (I don't remember why we did that though). The chassis had a label on the top indicating it was from "Oakridge EVT2 (IBM)". The other item was the part number at the bottom of your board differed from mine (820-0819-02 vs. AP2052-04). I probably focused in on the -02 and -04 to indicate a board revision, though in retrospect that probably isn't true in the end.

evt2_oakridge.jpg

From Apple's side of things, all these PowerExpress units may be from the same one or two batches. I originally named things based on the features that appeared to be missing. I designated yours EVT2, and lumped others with missing onboard video into that 'model'. If the presence or lack of VCI slot is an indicator, that may be the difference between an EVT1 and EVT2 unit, however at the time, I may not have put two and two together. EVT3 had onboard video, but it was the Cirrus Logic chipset, which wasn't supported well under Mac OS. EVT4 also had onboard video, but has the Bt9055 chipset (which is present on the Power Mac 9600). My EVT4 also doesn't have markings on the board to draw out outlines of chips and associated connectors/slots, which could indicate it was very near the end of the EVT cycle and just before the DVT cycle.

So that all being said, I suppose we could revamp the nomenclature to indicate yours is an EVT1 (or EVTA if you prefer), since yours has no onboard video or VCI slot.
EVT2 units have VCI slot, but no onboard video.
EVT3 units have VCI slot and Cirrus Logic onboard video.
EVT4 units have VCI slot and Bt9055 onboard video.

Thoughts on this distinction? Is there need for further revision?

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#44 2015-01-08 00:37:46

Eudimorphodon
Member
Registered: 2014-09-02
Posts: 525

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Captain Z wrote:

EVT3 units have VCI slot and Cirrus Logic onboard video.
EVT4 units have VCI slot and Bt9055 onboard video.

Interestingly the BT9055, a no-frills high-speed RAMDAC, was used on Apple video cards as long ago as the HPV video cards for the 7/8100. That Cirrus Logic-based video (presumably accelerated?) must have *really* not worked out very well.

Honestly I remember Cirrus Logic's products as being the sort of VGA chip you found embedded on the motherboard of business class Dells and Compaqs, not exactly the sort of thing anyone would right home about. Sort of wonder why Apple would have tapped them as the supply for a "Pro" video solution in the first place. (No wonder the Beige G3 smoked the PEx...)


Flap Different.

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#45 2015-01-08 01:57:40

LCGuy
Administrator
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-13
Posts: 812

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

The previous six slot towers, the 9500 and 9600 had no onboard video, my guess is that Apple was considering introducing onboard video, but only using a basic chipset to keep costs down, since they knew that pro users would install their own video card.

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#46 2015-01-08 03:54:54

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,406

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

That actually sounds about right, six available slots slots never shipped before the G5 AFAIK. Even the hulking Q950 powerhouse had only five. Apple always used one of the Available Slot IDs for onboard video from what I've seen. 4MB of onboard VRAM would have been a first for a Mac MoBo frame buffer, no? Even the 8100 needed the 2/4 HPV Card to get that resolution/color depth. Did any clones ship with four-on-the-floor?

4MB is a LOT of Desktop real estate from the Pixel-stingy folks who brought you the 8" Periscope. wink

Captain Z wrote:
jt wrote:

.  .  .  and what the hell does Batch A/Barcode - EVTA mean anyway? tongue

From what I recall from 10 years ago, your board originated in a 9600-series chassis, and was being switched out or something (I don't remember why we did that though). The chassis had a label on the top indicating it was from "Oakridge EVT2 (IBM)"  .  .  .

Damfino what the hell arrived or why and in which box from CA from that Ti critter. roll

From Apple's side of things, all these PowerExpress units may be from the same one or two batches.

That'd be two different runs at minimum. The top etch and silk screen layers clearly differentiate at least two runs, IIRC. I'm still looking for the pics I saw of that &^#$%^@#% soldered ROM PEx. hmm

So that all being said, I suppose we could revamp the nomenclature to indicate  .  .  .
.  .  . Thoughts on this distinction? Is there need for further revision?

I say let hap figure that stuff out for us after we've got all the available pics posted and marked up. He's got the most experience of anyone with EVT levels and prototypes I can think of outside of possibly jimabele. wink

Last edited by jt (2015-01-08 06:29:14)

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#47 2015-01-08 08:15:42

LCGuy
Administrator
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-13
Posts: 812

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

I still can't believe that I was the one who introduced Ti to the 68kMLA. One of the many mistakes I made back when I was young and stupid. Urgh sad

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#48 2015-01-08 14:39:33

jt
Member
From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,406

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

Don't characterize either of you as stupid, substitute inexperienced, combine that with youthful exuberance and that goes a long way in explaining events past. Ti was clearly a troubled kid who got caught up in Platinum fever and became overwhelmed by the the amount of sweat equity involved in the mission he'd volunteered to complete. However, having been in the process of raising a rug rat a bit older than either of you, it was more than a bit stupid on my part to have tried to mentor that little bat rastard. roll

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#49 2015-01-08 14:45:21

MJ313
Member
Registered: 2014-09-23
Posts: 498

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

haplain wrote:

Evaluation Verification Testing (round A) that is the EARLIEST stage of any kind of testing Apple does. EVT is the holy grail for protos as they usually differ in so many ways from a stock unit. EVT>DVT>PVT (Evaluation>Design>Product Verification Testing). First is make sure that boards, components, circuitry all work together, there is not fitment or any other kind of silly/strange issue (this is where/what a lot of clear shot units are/acrylic units if they are newer). Then design, make sure the case it goes into works, standoffs are good, etc (typically smooth plastic is seen here, if at all). Then product which is the final version of what one could/would expect to see on the market as a final version of the product.

Hap, that's awesome, thanks for posting all of that. So all PEx LB's were EVTs? Some of these boards fit into appropriate cases though, so does that mean the PEx itself reached Design phase using these EVT boards?

Last edited by MJ313 (2015-01-08 14:53:34)

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#50 2015-01-08 19:28:33

ClassicHasClass
Member
From: Electron Alley
Registered: 2014-05-26
Posts: 1,090
Website

Re: PExProjRedux_II: the inevitable 2kTeens franchise reboot . .

jt wrote:

Don't characterize either of you as stupid, substitute inexperienced, combine that with youthful exuberance and that goes a long way in explaining events past. Ti was clearly a troubled kid who got caught up in Platinum fever and became overwhelmed by the the amount of sweat equity involved in the mission he'd volunteered to complete. However, having been in the process of raising a rug rat a bit older than either of you, it was more than a bit stupid on my part to have tried to mentor that little bat rastard. roll

Do I want to ask?

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