Vaporware - Daystar Turbo 060

For starters, its best to define vaporware. Quite frankly, vaporware is any announced product or technology that never makes it to market. There are tons of items that fit into the vaporware cloud over the computer industry.

Daystar Turbo 060/Image 060

A featured news item in the May 1994 issue of Macworld, this pair of products were to offer near PowerMac speeds without the need to update your software library. As the name suggests, the up-grade cards use the Motorola 68060 chip. Apple bypassed the 68060 in favor of the PowerPC line. This CPU is the pinnacle of the 68K line of processors - a full super scaler design capable of executing three instructions per clock cycle. In English, it was pretty fast for its intended market. Another interesting detail is that the 68060 instruction set is not 100% compatible with the older 68040. It is believed that the Turbo 060 had an emulator built into the cards ROM for handling the troublesome instructions. Such an emulator is available from Motorola's website.

Daystar had several versions of the cards planned, mainly to accommodate the various PDS slots found in the Mac II and Quadra lines. The initial wave of Turbo 060 cards were aimed at Macs with the Quadra style PDS slot. The high end Turbo 060 would have had a 66 Mhz 68060, some L2 cache, and four 72 pin RAM slots on the card itself. A cheaper 50 Mhz version was mentioned but without any other details. The Image 060 was to be a Turbo 060 with the optional twin DSP daughter card. The DSPs of course further accelerate certain Photoshop functions. While no pictures of the Turbo 060 are floating around on the net, the specs hint of a layout similar to that of the early PowerPro 601 upgrade cards.

The reason the Turbo 060 didn't make it to market is simple - Apple wouldn't let them. The performance of the Turbo 060 rivaled that of the low end PowerMacs even while running PPC native software. Apple had must of the OS running in emulation, hindering the low end PowerMacs further. What Apple wanted was a smooth transition to the PPC line and the Turbo 060 was a threat to Apple's short term plans. Without a license for Apple ROMs on the card, the Turbo 060 was left setting in the laboratory and on a few obscure press releases.

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I worked at DayStar for a while and wanted to set the record straight regarding the Turbo 060.

At the time, it wasn't clear how well the PowerPC 601 was going to do performance-wise versus the 68060 when running emulated code. So DayStar did both products in parallel: the '060 version of the Turbo 040, and the PowerPro which was a PowerPC 601-based upgrade.

As it turned out, the '060 was no faster than the '040 at comparable clock speeds, so we killed the product. It had nothing to do with Apple "letting us" do it. The Turbo '040 didn't need a license for the ROMs, and neither did the '060.

It is true that Apple really wanted a smooth transition to PowerPC, but they had no control over what we did. The reality was, the product wasn't compelling, so we killed it.

And the rest, as they say, is history. :mac:


While opinions and facts are often mixed, this just doesn't agree with the facts. I ran many Mac OS applications on an m68060 for years around the time of the transition to PowerPC. At the time I was doing lots of graphics work and prepress with Photoshop, QuarkXpress, Illustrator and more. I was also doing PostScript RIP to ridiculously high resolution (for the time) large format banner printers.

Hands down, the 60 MHz m68060 in an Amiga 1200 running ShapeShifter beat the 80 MHz PowerMac 8100 a majority of the time in CPU intensive operations even when running PowerPC native code!

While Daystar might've been right that performance wasn't substantially better with certain applications when run out of slower motherboard memory, a majority of the kinds of applications I ran (which were what the Mac was most used for in high end) were vastly improved. Between the faster FPU, the 8k caches instead of the 4k caches, superscalar dispatch, and faster clock speed, an m68060 even on a slower memory bus would leave an '040 in the dust.

Also, considering how much of an improvement there is in the speed of CPU intensive work when comparing a QuadDoubler (50 MHz m68040) equipped Mac versus the 25 MHz chip, one can see that there was plenty of code which ran the tightest loops inside of the m68040's 4k caches.

A Daystar m68060 card with on-board memory would've easily competed with the first generation of PowerMacs and would've been extremely popular with people who needed to run expensive applications that weren't updated to PowerPC native code for several years and/or which cost thousands of dollars to upgrade (PostScript RIP software, in my case, was an excellent example - the software cost $3000 alone).

It'd have been interesting if a former Daystar employee had access to a prototype or even a copy of some of the benchmark data created with a prototype... Perhaps we'll have to start trying to track down some of the old Daystar people...