ISA based 3D accelerators?

Discussion about old graphics cards, monitors and video related things.

Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby squiggly » 2018-2-05 @ 05:26

Hamby wrote:Were there ever any ISA 3D accelerator cards? Even the original Voodoo was PCI, iirc.

Interestingly the 3dfx guys considered whether to make Voodoo compatible with ISA/VLB but chose to break with the past and support PCI only. Saw this in a great video, worth a watch:
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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby spiroyster » 2018-2-05 @ 14:32

@SteveC @Jo22
Yes thanks. Matrox ftp does have PG-XXXX files, which I already had, but can't find anything on SM-XXXX series (iirc thats why I contacted Matrox UK). I may have to revisit this as a summer project this year.

Here are some low-res images (dug out of my piccyes folder, cards are in storage somewhere) of the early ISA '3D accelerator' cards. The model number relates to the max screen resolution supported by said card.

SM-640 (IBM PGC compatible, unknown how this is actually implemented)... NOT MINE (found on vcf iirc) !!

SM-1024 (TMS320 PCB is from SM-1281, memory looks to be the same amount as 1024 rather than 1280(1)).

PG-1281 (TMS34010), max res is 1280 (the 1 in the 1281 means it was later a rev to PG-1280)

I don't have any of my Iris Vision (and its MCA not 'thread relevant ISA' anyhows). If anyone wants higher res (ya know, to see the chip numbers in 'all), next oppotunity I get, I'll dig them out and take some better snaps.
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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby PDAisAok » 2018-2-10 @ 07:30

The Virtuality VR system used ISA based 3D video cards. The entire system was on a 14-slot ISA backplane

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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby SuperHanSolo » 2018-2-13 @ 14:03

The Serpent Rider wrote:For gaming? No. VESA local bus had at least one: ... r-vlb.html

I have one of these in the original box :)
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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby vetz » 2018-2-13 @ 14:28

dirkmirk wrote:The photos dont work anymore but I'll always remember when Vets found a boxed version of the Matrox Impression, only supported 3 games.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=17341&start=4320#p365941 ... n-isa.html

Pictures fixed in the original thread.

Some screenshots of the supported games here: viewtopic.php?f=63&t=33483&p=381809#p381809
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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby Scubs » 2018-2-13 @ 17:18

Some mid 90s arcade systems had 3d isa cards. They weren't truly ISA. Just physically ISA.
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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby Scali » 2018-10-16 @ 19:56

PDAisAok wrote:The Virtuality VR system used ISA based 3D video cards. The entire system was on a 14-slot ISA backplane

That's interesting.
I knew of Virtuality because I was an Amiga user at the time, and the first generation Virtuality systems were powered by Amigas, so it was a hot topic in Amiga magazines, and among friends etc.
I never knew there was a second generation based on PCs.
According to Wikipedia, they were introduced in 1994, and use Motorola processors (not specific graphics processors it seems, but general purpose):
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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby vlask » 2018-10-17 @ 17:59

TIGA programming manuals are available.....see no problem here - have some onsite...for example...
TMS340 Family C Source Debugger User’s Guide - tiga_spvu021a_sourcedebugger.pdf
TMS340 Graphics Library - tiga_spvu027_graphicslibrary.pdf
TMS34010 User's Guide - tms34010userguide_88.pdf
All of them at

Biggest problem is that tiga cards needed loaded resident drivers and since each card was unique (different memory sizes), you need to find drivers just for your card.....
Not only mine graphics cards collection at
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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby eisapc » 2018-11-06 @ 12:05

One more ISA 3D-board not mentioned yet ist the SPEA Fire board, featuring the intel i860 RISC processor. The board was availiable as a 3D add on board or as a daugterboard for the SPEA-FGA TIGA boards, together building the FGA-860. Both variants are full size ISA boards featuring up to 4 MB RAM for the i860 additional to the VRAM used as display buffer. For the TIGA boards mentioned above: AFAIK these were only 2D accelerators that were overcome by the bunch of windows accelerator boards showing up shortly after the time TIGA was introduced. The Irisvision is 3D for sure, but the MCA-version was only supported by RS/6000 Unix boxes and never made it to the IBM PS/2 PC-line. Not sure if the datapath QPC series featuring an AM29000 CPU were 2D or 3D, as I never really installed one of these boards in a system (mainly du to the lacking an SMB-connector monitor cable at this time).
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Re: ISA based 3D accelerators?

Postby elianda » 2018-11-06 @ 23:38

Number Nine had a demo showing some capabilities of the TIGA chipset. I captured it in 2011:
I have still two fully functional cards, however never started programming for it. Though since the DSP is fully programmable it is very likely that some simple on chip '3D engine' is possible. - Vintage Hardware Gallery, Drivers, Guides, HQ Videos.
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