PowerExpress Revisited

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Hello,
I found this site through a backdoor. I recently purchased a PM 9600 motherboard on eBay. The listing called it a prototype and said it had onboard ultra SCSI so I was a little intrigued and bit the bullet and purchased it even though I originally just wanted to resurrect a dead 9600 for my very young daughter to use. Well, the motherboard arrived and I quickly realized it was quite an oddball. The seller knew nothing about it's origin or anything else and I'm tempted to request my money back per his non-DOA guarantee. Of course, I could not find any references online for the part number, but there's a strange slot on the board labelled VCI, so I Googled VCI motherboard and came up with CaptainZ's forum and webpage on this site. My motherboard certainly sounds like one of the PowerExpress Manhattan describe in an earlier forum:
http://www.applefritter.com/cgi-bin/YaBB/YaBB.pl?board=apple;action=display;num=1070916360;start=0
Here's the auction where I bought the motherboard:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=4607&item=5154536227&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW
The same seller actually had two of these for sale and someone else bought the other one.
The RAM slots say "NB DRAM 3.3 VOLTS." I've tried many different configurations with the parts I have. I've tried a 32mb stick which I think may be PC66 that came with a Beige G3 that I sold long ago. I've tried a bunch of different PC100 sticks, all 3-2-2. I've tried my original 9600 350mhz processor, an XLR8 zif carrier with an XLR8 350mhz G4 processor, a Sonnet 450mhz G4 PCI processor, and a Powercomputing Powerbase 240mhz processor. With the first three processors I get a "chime" which is not a chime but actually a recording of someone saying, "I believe I saved this company" and then someone else says, "kill me!" With the Powerbase processor I get no chime at all. I have not gotten any video output at all, neither from an ATI 16mb 128 card, nor from the onboard video port. My original PM 9600 did not have a ROM card installed, so I don't have any ROM card to put into the ROM slot.
So, if anyone can please tell me, what's the consensus on this motherboard so far? Am I wasting my time with it or is there something I can do to get it going? Or is it a museum piece?
thanks

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Hmm...

I think it might say on the site, or not, but there was some progress made in trying to get these motherboards to boot. They didn't get very far though. Not much has been said about it lately on here.

Have you been able to determine what revision of the PowerExpress you have?

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back door?

To say you joined our site via a back door would mean that you've found a way to compromise our security and are illegally using our computers.

Or do you mean you came to the site and registered an account? That would be the front door.

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I'm not that sneaky

Well, you caught me. I guess I'm just a front door guy, after all. Not as bad as I try to pretend. You'll find me on the other Kinsey Report.

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revision

Nope, I don't know what revision it is, but it does have all the chipsets that were missing on Captainz's motherboard that he pictured here:
http://www.captainz.net/site_revision_081604/EVT2_proto.html
My motherboard has eight NEC chips (VRAM?), the Control, the Radacal, the Kaos (underneath) and the Nine99. The VCI slot is intact. Also on the topside of the motherboard is an LTX chip and the Symbios Logic Ultra SCSI chip. The onboard Ultra SCSI looks like the standard male 80 pin SCSI connection, but shorter, so I guess it's a 68pin in a form I'm not familiar with. Sorry, I'm just a tinkerer, not a professional, so I don't know much wherefore I speak, but there are also some other very interesting looking chipsets on the underneath of the motherboard:
the Fermi, 2 chips called Denali, and the Heathrow.
All are LSI or Texas Instruments. The Nine99 and the Heathrow say "proto" on them. Similar to Captainz's, there are four pads next to the VCI slot without chips labelled U32, U33, U34, U35. They link the ROM slot to the VCI slot. Could they be the missing piece to successful boot? It would be cool if I could get this thing to work. It'd be practically like having a G3 with six PCI slots, and what is a VCI slot? It's identical to a PCI slot. I'm wondering if it's possible that I could take the bracket off one of my ATI video cards and slip it in there for onboard video if I could get this thing to boot. That is, if the Men in Black don't show up after my posting and confiscate and eradicate. I know they're watching...aren't you?

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PC133

Try some PC133 RAM, this works in a lot of computers, even ones with lower bus speeds (e.g Beige G3).

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Power express greatly predate

Power express greatly predates PC 133. He needs either Fast Paged Mode or EDO ram. We had one in the lab when I worked for apple that we used for disk testing. It really was greatly inferior tot he beige G3, which is why i never shipped.

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Re: revision

Hawaii Cruiser wrote:

The onboard Ultra SCSI looks like the standard male 80 pin SCSI connection, but shorter, so I guess it's a 68pin in a form I'm not familiar with.

It's 50 pin scsi, AKA, Ultra Narrow.

Quote:

the Fermi, 2 chips called Denali, and the Heathrow.

Heathrow was a PCI chip that provided IDE, ethernet, serial, and some other misc I/O functions. It's also in the beige G3 rev a. and the wallstreet powerbooks. It was a decent i/o asic in it's day (though it's successor Paddington was far superior).

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RAM

Thanks for your input, Dr. Bob. I tried installing the RAM from my original 9600. I don't remember if it's FPM or EDO, but it definitely does not fit into the RAM slots on the PowerExpress motherboard. SDRAM does fit, and the slots say "DRAM" on the plastic. They also say "NB." Any clue to what that means? North bridge? Shucks, I was thinking Heathrow was a prototype Airport chip. Wink

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Onboard Ultra SCSI

As to the onboard Ultra SCSI, there is one of the old style 50pin narrow slots, but next to it is another SCSI slot which has the form like the old Centronics male connector with a long tongue up the middle and mesh connectors within the tongue. I just now got down with flashlight and pointer and counted the connectors along the tongue and there's 34 on a side, so 68 total. I'll try to get photos up one day so you can see. Unfortunately, I don't own a digital camera so it'll take a little while to for me to post some. I'll go borrow one from a friend who I helped cram a bunch of PC133 into her B&W, so while I'm there maybe I'll distract her with a Bill Gates recorded speech or something and retrieve a 128mb stick to try in this motherboard too and post results.

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If the sockets are labelled 3

If the sockets are labelled 3.3V then it likely needs 3.3V EDO RAM.The ram from your 9600 would be 5V so it would not work. My guess is that NB means non buffered.

Also it looks like it has 8 slots. From my understanding in order to use more than 4 SDRAM DIMMS you need to use registered DIMMs. So that pretty much rules out SDRAM.

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Re: RAM

Hawaii Cruiser wrote:

Thanks for your input, Dr. Bob. I tried installing the RAM from my original 9600. I don't remember if it's FPM or EDO, but it definitely does not fit into the RAM slots on the PowerExpress motherboard. SDRAM does fit, and the slots say "DRAM" on the plastic. They also say "NB." Any clue to what that means? North bridge? Shucks, I was thinking Heathrow was a prototype Airport chip. Wink

it need 3.3V EDO, the 9600 uses 5V. It's keyed differently to keep you from inserting the wrong type. NB probably does'nt refer to anything relevant.

PC133, PC100, PC66 WILL NOT WORK.

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Which machines used 3.3v edo?

Which machines used 3.3v edo? I have an old pentium pro dually server mobo at work that i was going to hang on my wall. It has a bunch of dimms on it but they say edo on them. I'm wondering if one of them mighnt work?

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Re: RAM

Hawaii Cruiser wrote:

Shucks, I was thinking Heathrow was a prototype Airport chip. Wink

This I know for sure could never happen. Airport is nothing but rebranded Lucent and Orinoco Cardbus and Mini-PCI cards.

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PC133 doesn't work

I tried a PC133 128mb SDRAM--no luck. I don't get the broken glass sound when I start up. Wasn't that the sound it makes when the wrong RAM is installed or if the RAM is defective?
I suspect you've hit the nail on the head. 3.3v EDO sounds like the answer, thanks. I'll try and find some--didn't know it existed. Did any retail macs use it?
Oh, and the startup chime says, "I know I saved this company." Is that quote familiar to anyone? It doesn't sound like Steve Jobs. I'll see if I can make an MP3 of it.

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4400

I think the 4400 used 3.3v EDO, but i'm not sure

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Judging from the picture in t

Judging from the picture in the eBay listing, and your information on the motherboard, it looks to me that you have a EVT3 (video intact, Cirrus video chipset, VCI intact) or EVT4 motherboard (video intact, non-Cirrus video chipset, VCI intact). Yours also is missing the ROM (the two spots near the power button), just as mine is.

I must have overlooked the RAM slots when I was dealing with my PEx tower, since at first glance it looks identical to SDRAM slots. I know I have some of that somewhere, since the StarMax systems use that type (I can get 96MB out of my 5000/275). I can attempt it inside PEx Manhattan tomorrow.

I'm interested in hearing the "chimes" that you have heard, and any other pictures you'd be willing to share with us, and add them to my site to share with the world.

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ROM

So does that mean, no ROM, no boot, with or without the right RAM? Should I be looking for a ROM card?

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Just a note, I believe that a

Just a note, I believe that a lot of mac motherboards don't even make use of the rom slots.

They are present but were never utilized.

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I looked up the memory i have

I looked up the memory i have in the old pentium motherboard. One of the chips is this one: http://www.crucial.com/uk/store/partspecs.asp?IMODULE=CT16M72E4B6

Apparently the details are as follows:

* Module Size: 128MB
* Package: 168-pin DIMM
* Feature: EDO
* Configuration: 16Meg x 72
* DIMM Type: Buffered
* Error Checking: ECC
* Speed: 60ns
* Voltage: 3.3V
* Memory Timings:

I also have 4 32 meg versions of the same chip. I would not mind giving away one of the 32 meg versions if Dr Bob can confirm that the chip style listed above would work. THe one thing is that the one notch on the small side of the dimm is off by a tiny bit compared to a pc66/100/133 dimm. IN otherwords, the notch on the big side is notched the exact same but the notch on the other side is in the middle of the gold pads whereas on the pc133 dimmm, the notch is towards the left gold pads. I don't have a scanner here at work to show you though.

But the offer is out there if you are curious.

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3.3v EDO installed

Thanks for the RAM offer. I went ahead and bought some 3.3v EDO unbuffered non-ECC RAM on eBay:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=4611&item=6739011067&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW

It arrived and it fits fine, but still no boot. With the RAM installed and the original 9600 350mhz card installed, I get nothing at all--no powerup, no chime, nothing but a short click. With the RAM installed and the XLR8 carrier ZIF G4 350mhz installed, IT DOES POWER UP and then it repeats the "chime" over and over again, not rapidly, but over and over. It repeats again and again the, "I say that I rescued this company," but it no longer says "kill me" at all--so I suppose the "kill me" was the equivalent of the "broken glass" error sound, therefore, the 3.3v must be the correct RAM, although I wonder about the compatibility of the density of the chips on the RAM I bought.
So what's the next step? Get ahold of a ROM card? What kind of a ROM card? Were there ROM cards made specifically for the 9600? How about a Beige G3 ROM card--rev. a, b, or c? Or am I in the obsessive grip of good money chasing bad? I should probably keep this a secret from the therapists.
I also went ahead and purchased an old 8500 on eBay for my daughter to use. Does it have a ROM card--probably not, right? But it will have a 120 mhz processor I could try. It was shipped via parcel post, so who knows how long it will take to get here--two weeks, three weeks, a month?
And I dropped off my film for developing yesterday, so I should have the pics this weekend.
Thanks for your interest!

Perturbed in Hawaii

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I also have a 8500/9500 cpu c

I also have a 8500/9500 cpu card that I have no idea what the speed. I just know that it was working when it was given to me long ago. You want/need it?

I just know that it doesn't work in the 7x00 series machines so its of no use to me.

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What next?

Thanks for the CPU offer as well. I think I'm going to sit on this thing (I do use the 9600 as a footstool now under my desk) and dwell for a little while and see if anyone wanders back into this forum and has some definitive suggestion. I keep thinking the problem at this point must be missing ROM, although, since you offer buffered ECC it makes me start to wonder if Apple's intention with this motherboard was for a server--that would probably explain the onboard SCSI-3. Could having unbuffered non-ECC instead of buffered ECC cause my current situation? ILife's little mysteries.

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You've already got some sort of ROM . . .

else you'd not hear that cool startup chime. Now how complete and usable that ROM is, that's a whole 'nuther question.

Alot of pre-G3 Macs had both on-board ROMs and a ROM slot. Theory was new features or bug fixes could be added simply by dropping in a new ROM which would take over from the old ROM. Slot was cheap enough I suppose, and covered Apple's butt if the soldered-on ROM turned out to be somehow fatally flawed.

Hey drbob, whaddya know about ROM slots, etc., especially those in the PCI Macs?

And HC, I'm looking forward to seeing your pics. How about posting the startup and crash sounds too, eh? You can use most any Mac for simple audio capture- best setup -> stereo mini plugs direct between audio out on PEx to mic/audio-in on the other Mac. Stereo 44kHz/16 bit Mac sound file (AIFF) if possible, please! Smile

dan k

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I hate to point out the obvious...

Please forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but I feel I must...

Have you reseated everything possible on the motherboard? Made sure the connectors were clean and free of corrosion?

Your constant chiming problem sounds *a* *lot* like a problem I had with my Beige G3, as well as my buddy's Beige. It turned out that the processor didn't exactly fit in the ZIF socket (don't ask me why Tongue). What we ended up doing was very carefully and very gently sliding the processor back and forth in the socket and starting the machine to see what worked. Essentially, we'd turn the machine off, take the processor out, put it back in and "push" it as far in one direction as it could go while still in the socket, then we pulled the lever down to lock the processor into place. We tried (looking at the case from the front) up, down, left & right. I think that it was pushing it up which worked, but I can't be certain. Make sure to do this with the computer turned off.

I realize that this approach is probably one of the worst approaches to fixing a computer ever, however, when one is faced with the prospect of a dead machine, almost anything is worth a shot.

Hopefully this provides some insight that'll get your machine up and running. I'd be interested to see exactly what that computer identifies itself as if it ever boots.

Cheers,

The Czar

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Re: 3.3v EDO installed

Hawaii Cruiser wrote:

It arrived and it fits fine, but still no boot. With the RAM installed and the original 9600 350mhz card installed, I get nothing at all--no powerup, no chime, nothing but a short click. With the RAM installed and the XLR8 carrier ZIF G4 350mhz installed, IT DOES POWER UP and then it repeats the "chime" over and over again, not rapidly, but over and over. It repeats again and again the, "I say that I rescued this company," but it no longer says "kill me" at all--so I suppose the "kill me" was the equivalent of the "broken glass" error sound, therefore, the 3.3v must be the correct RAM, although I wonder about the compatibility of the density of the chips on the RAM I bought.
So what's the next step? Get ahold of a ROM card? What kind of a ROM card? Were there ROM cards made specifically for the 9600? How about a Beige G3 ROM card--rev. a, b, or c? Or am I in the obsessive grip of good money chasing bad? I should probably keep this a secret from the therapists.
I also went ahead and purchased an old 8500 on eBay for my daughter to use. Does it have a ROM card--probably not, right? But it will have a 120 mhz processor I could try. It was shipped via parcel post, so who knows how long it will take to get here--two weeks, three weeks, a month?
And I dropped off my film for developing yesterday, so I should have the pics this weekend.
Thanks for your interest!

Perturbed in Hawaii

Interesting... I was messing around with my PowerExpress Manhattan with 3.3v EDO NB DRAM, and I also got the repeating "chime" (guitar playing for me). I was only able to get that with my PPC604 132MHz card, where I got no chime from my PPC601 100MHz, PPC603e 180MHz, or G3 350MHz cards. I still have to get my PPC604e 200 and 350MHz cards out to try them.

As for the ROM, the only ROM card you may be able to obtain would be the Beige G3 one. The 9600 has the ROM soldered on motherboard. I'm not sure, but that could be the Cache DIMM slot (like it is on the 7300/8600/9600), rather than a ROM slot on PEx. Therefore, PowerExpress prototypes have 2 spots for the ROM.
1) Soldered on motherboard, between the VCI slot and the ROM slot
2) Sockets, located to the left of the power switch

If the picture above is what you have, it is likely you don't have the prototype ROMs for the sockets, and soldered-on ROMs are not present either. Unless you have a Beige G3 ROM you can test in that other slot, you may be out of luck.

We should check with JT (Trash80toG4) or TiMacLover... they are the only other two who I know have PowerExpress towers, and see about if they made any progress made with theirs (IIRC, JT has a ROM on his EVT2 PEx board.)

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chime

I tried to post an MP3 file of the chime on this site, but I don't know if it posted or not. I used the "upload file" input page under "create content," but if it posted, I don't know where it went. Anyone know how to post audio files?

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Re: chime

Well until it does come online on AppleFritter, here is a mirror on my site:
http://www.captainz.net/site_revision_081604/PEx%20Chime%20-%20Saved%20Company.mp3

Hawaii Cruiser: if you have a digital camera, I'd love to see pictures of your board and any differences you have verses other existing boards. Specifically, I'd like to see a picture of the bottom-left corner, where the serial number and part numbers are listed.

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Pics posted!

I HAVE POSTED PICS OF MY PEx MOTHERBOARD! Click on my ID and click on "view image gallery" to see them. I sent a copy of the chime MP3 to CaptainZ. He has provided a mirror to it above. Thanks CaptainZ!

I tried manipulating the processor as suggested above, but no difference--still getting the repeating chime. I now get the repeating chime with my other processors too. Guess I wasn't nesting them correctly earlier.

So I guess the only hope for boot at this point is possibly getting ahold of a Beige G3 ROM, unless someone's got another idea.

Sorry the pics aren't of the greatest quality. Maybe I'll get some better ones sometime later.

I'm curious if anyone recognizes that 68pin onboard black SCSI connector. I've seen no adapter or cable like that.
I'm also curious if anyone knows about the VCI slot and if there are actually cards that work in it.

Thanks again for everyone's input!

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floppy drive connector?

Oh, there's one more thing I'm curious about. What's that small yellow connector to the right of the RAM slots where the floppy drive cable connector is usually on the 9600. It looks just like a floppy drive connector but it's longer. Possibly a PC floppy drive connector? I'm a Mac user since the late 80's and have never owned a PC!

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to view images

I guess you have to be a registered user and logged in to see my image gallery, so if you're not, join the crowd.

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Hmm...

According to Captain Z's site, it was the new connector for the floppy drive that was based up on CHRP, common hardware reference... something.

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Re: Hmm...

Hokusai wrote:

According to Captain Z's site, it was the new connector for the floppy drive that was based up on CHRP, common hardware reference... something.

I've also heard it is found on some IBM PC's. While my PEx board has the older standard floppy connector, my PEx Manhattan has the MFM floppy connector and drive. The Mitsubishi part number of MF355F. This was implemented on only one other motherboard supposedly, the Apple Logic Board LPX-40

On another note, nice pictures Hawaii Cruiser. I was surprised to see in the pictures that you do have ROM chips present, but there still is the possibility the ROMs have been corrupted or wiped prior to escaping Cupertino. The board information in the corner shows the Apple part number of AP2852-05, indicating a 5th revision board (EVT5). Mine is AP2852-04 (EVT4).

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A trivial note in a very inte

A trivial note in a very interesting thead...
Someone at Apple was obviously a Marathon fan.
I played Captain Z's mp3, and the "kill me" is sampled from the assimilated Bobs in the game.

But on topic: aren't the startup and crash sounds stored in the ROM? Those sounds have to be stored somewhere...if there's no ROM on the board, then where are those sounds coming from?

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Re: Which machines used 3.3v edo?

bobotech wrote:

Which machines used 3.3v edo? I have an old pentium pro dually server mobo at work that i was going to hang on my wall. It has a bunch of dimms on it but they say edo on them. I'm wondering if one of them mighnt work?

None of the macs did except maybe the 4400. Some PC's did. It was rather short lived as SDRAM came out and crushed it (and there was much rejoycing.)

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Re: RAM

moosemanmoo wrote:
Hawaii Cruiser wrote:

Shucks, I was thinking Heathrow was a prototype Airport chip. Wink

This I know for sure could never happen. Airport is nothing but rebranded Lucent and Orinoco Cardbus and Mini-PCI cards.

The first one was a rebranded Lucent card. All following models are actual in house apple designs based heavily on the broadcom reference design.

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Re: You've already got some sort of ROM . . .

dankephoto wrote:

Hey drbob, whaddya know about ROM slots, etc., especially those in the PCI Macs.

In this case, he needs a ROM card as the pads for the onboard rom are vacant. This was common on prototypes until apple stopped using printed mask roms with the introduction of the iMac.

http://www.applefritter.com/node/6292

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Re: floppy drive connector?

Hawaii Cruiser wrote:

Oh, there's one more thing I'm curious about. What's that small yellow connector to the right of the RAM slots where the floppy drive cable connector is usually on the 9600. It looks just like a floppy drive connector but it's longer. Possibly a PC floppy drive connector? I'm a Mac user since the late 80's and have never owned a PC!

It's a PC floppy connector. The original Beige G3 protos also used a standard PC floppy drive connector (didn't ship that way obviously)

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Re: A trivial note in a very inte

eeun wrote:

A trivial note in a very interesting thead...
Someone at Apple was obviously a Marathon fan.
I played Captain Z's mp3, and the "kill me" is sampled from the assimilated Bobs in the game.

Many of us were marathon fans there back in those days. We used to take over cubical farms at night and conference rooms on the weekend just to play marathon.

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Really? I thought for sure th

Really? I thought for sure there were Orinoco cards in there. Thanks for clearing that up.

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Was there any advantage to us

Was there any advantage to using a proprietary connector (besides extra money)?

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StarMax clones

use 3.3v EDO RAM IIRC.

dan k

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Re: Was there any advantage to us

moosemanmoo wrote:

Was there any advantage to using a proprietary connector (besides extra money)?

It's not, it's a standard PC floppy port

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more stuff

I did a little googling and found a couple of interesting related pages:
I didn't realize there already was an applefritter page with a complete Powerexpress motherboard pic:
http://applefritter.com/prototypes/pex/index.html
It looks almost identical to mine except it has the old style floppy drive connector.
I also found an old webpage that might explain the VCI slot:
http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Article6111.htm
I'm now planning to purchase a Beige G3 Rom v.2 off eBay. Does anyone see a flaw in that? I noticed that the 4400 has a ROM card. Any chance of that working for me? I read that the Powerexpress was a composite of many architectures including the 4400's Tanzania which also used the 3.3v EDO.
I also notice that "PowerExpress" is often listed as the codename of the "Powermac G3 Pro"--which is what?--and I get the impression in a couple of places that the motherboard was designed toward a G3 processor.
As far as I can discern or guess at, the PowerExpress and the Gossamer G3 were developed around the same time, and all plans in both architectures were moving to G3 processors, but Apple finally conceded that 6 PCI slots in one machine were no longer an overly important commodity and it was that realization which finally axed the PowerExpress (Powermac 9700).

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The axe that killed the PEX w

The axe that killed the PEX was that the Gossamer design outperformed it handily, and it is a cheaper design to build.

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yes that motherboard.....

yes that motherboard was a prototype for an upcoming 9700. apple would have produced it but the beige (aka grossamer) outperformed it.

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the block for chopping

I guess it's an overly fine point I'm making. From what I've read, Apple continued the development of the PowerExpress all the way to the eve of production, and even AFTER the introduction of the Gossamer G3 because there was still a strong market for machines with 6 PCI slots. People were still buying 9600's after the G3 came to market because they needed the expansion, and Apple had to revive production of the 350mhz 604e processors in order to meet that demand. It must have been pretty dismaying for all those folks with Avid and Media 100 and Voodoo setups to see the better performance in the G3 and then see that it only had two PCI slots. I watched a friend for years tinker with his strained 9500 just so he could squeeze out some more life from his Media 100 setup. And I can sympathize today because I could use a fifth PCI slot in my maxed-out B&W. Apple abandoned a lot of technologies with the G3 line, and the first to go was greater PCI expansion. It left a lot of people holding the cards, so to speak.

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Tanzania

Most of the clones are built around either the Tanzania or Tsunami motherboards. All the Tanzanias use 3.3v EDO.

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Hi everybody!

Hi everybody! My name is Henry. I was the guy who got the other PEx board that was on ebay. Unfortunately, it's in less of a state than the other one, as mine has no ROM chips in it and hence, just sits there quietly when you turn it on. I havent messed with it in a couple days, but absolutely nothing I tried worked. It powers on, but it would appear that without those two ROM chips in the corner, the thing is useless.

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any booting PExes out there?

PLCC eeproms are pretty easy to dupe . . . copyright, schmoppyright!

Tongue

dan k

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Yeah.. I think that in this c

Yeah.. I think that in this context, Apple wouldn't care so much about rom dumping if the NDA is expired.

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