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History of ATi Graphics cards Vol. 1

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History of ATi Graphics cards Vol. 1
yjfy

On August 20, 1985, Lee Ka Lau, P. H. Lau, Kwok Yuen Ho, and Benny Lau from Hong Kong, China founded ATI as Array Technology Inc. in Canada.On December 18, 1985, it was renamed ATI Technologies Inc.

On June 24, 2006, AMD announced the acquisition of ATi for US$5.4 billion and completed the acquisition on October 25, 2006.

In the past 21 years, ATI has dedicated many beautiful graphics cards, even ATI cannot sort out the graphics card information. Many articles related to the history of ATI graphics cards are too superficial, which is not very helpful for computer hardware collectors. As a collector of computer hardware, the author writes a history of ATI graphics cards from the perspective of collection identification, focusing on introducing early ATI graphics cards and engineering sample graphics cards to create a collection guide for ATI graphics cards. In order to fully display the ATi graphics card, this article uses many pictures from collectors and websites. Thank you very much!

1.Graphics Solution series

At the beginning of its establishment, Working primarily in the OEM field, ATI produced integrated graphics cards for PC manufacturers such as IBM and Commodore.

ATI’s early graphics cards have very little information. Fortunately, almost all of them have passed the FCC ID certification, which is an important way to understand ATI graphics card models.

ATI's first product is Color Emulation Card. The card came equipped with a minimum of 16KB of memory. It was used for outputting text to a TTL monitor via a 9-pin DE-9 connector. I have never seen the Color Emulation Card, even the pictures are not left, maybe it is not a standard ISA interface card.

Graphics Solution series graphics cards are the earliest ATI graphics cards and the earliest ATI graphics cards that can be collected. The main chips and components of Ati's early graphics cards were not all developed by itself, but they were keen to put on the logo to declare the brand.

Graphics Solution series graphics cards have four models.

1.1 Graphics Solution

Graphics Solution is based on the UM6845E CRT controller, with the use of Central chip CW16800-A (ATI used ASIC technology to develop the first chip in October 1985), manufactured 8-bit ISA interface graphics card. This card uses the 64KB DRAM,supports Hercules Graphics Card mode and extended 132x25 / 132x44 text-modes on TTL Monochrome monitors,以及All CGA modes on both CGA/EGA and TTL Monochrome monitors。Composite output is available on an internal 3-pin connector (no support for colors, Works only in the 40x25 text-mode or 320x200 graphics modes)

Graphics Solution graphics cards have 3 revisions. Most of the ones that can be seen and collected are the REV 3 version, the REV 2 version is very rare, and the REV 1 or REV 0 version is only seen in the promotional pictures of ATi.

1.1.1 Graphics Solution REV 1

Graphics_Solution_rev1.jpg

The Graphics Solution graphics card in the picture is from ATI's official announcement picture, which is undoubtedly an engineering sample. It may be REV 1 or even REV 0 . The display chip is Hitachi HD460505SP-1, not UM6845 commonly used by ATI.

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Reply 1 of 149, by yjfy

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1.1.2 Graphics Solution REV 2

PN 168228

1.1.2.1 Engineering Sample

This is the official announcement picture of ATI. Compared with the official product, there is only one row of jumpers in the upper right corner.

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Reply 2 of 149, by yjfy

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1.1.2.2 Official product

The PCB layout of Graphics Solution graphics card REV 2 is very different from REV 1, and there is no difference from REV 3.

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Reply 3 of 149, by yjfy

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1.1.3 Graphics Solution REV 3

PN 168228 FCCID:EXM5RSGSO

The figure below shows the full-interface Graphics Solution-SP.

The rare boxed Graphics Solution shows that ATI was unwilling to be behind the scenes. The "Wonder" that appeared on the box followed the products behind ATI. Once the "Wonder" is no longer there, ATI will disappear.

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Reply 4 of 149, by yjfy

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1.2 Graphics Solution Plus

PN 168248 FCCID:EXM5RSGSO

Compared with the Graphics Solution, the Graphics Solution Plus graphics card only updates the Central chip to CW16800-B, and there are no other changes.

(From Vlask on vgamuseum.info)

Graphics Solution and Graphics Solution Plus graphics cards also have variants such as Serial/Parallel.

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Reply 5 of 149, by yjfy

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1.3 Graphics Solution-SR

PN 168328 FCCID:EXM5RSGSSR

The "SR" of Graphics Solution-SR is "Static RAM", that is, the Central chip is corrected to 16800-C (ATI CW16800-C) to support 64KB SRAM.

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Reply 6 of 149, by yjfy

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1.4 Small Wonder Graphics Solution

SMALL Wonder Graphics Solution is also known as Graphics Solution-SC. "SC" means "single chip", which means integrating the functions of multiple chips into the ATI 18700 chip. ATI 18700 is a graphics chip developed in 1988. ATI did not make a strong announcement. Maybe it was too low-end. Maybe it was overshadowed by the VGA Wonder launched in the same year.

The SMALL Wonder Graphics Solution series has 64KB DRAM/SRAM onboard, which seems to support expansion to 96/128KB.

SMALL Wonder Graphics Solution graphics card is equipped with ATI's first graphics chip, which is worth collecting.

1.4.1 Graphics Solution-SC Version 1

PN 18701 FCCID:EXM5RSGSSC

64KB DRAM

Graphics Solution-SC can also be referred to as GS-SC for short.

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Last edited by yjfy on 2020-11-05, 07:09. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 7 of 149, by yjfy

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1.4.2 Graphics Solution-SC Version 2

PN 18703 FCCID:EXM5RSGSSC1

Using 64KB SRAM memory instead of DRAM.

(From Palcal on vgamuseum.info)

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Reply 9 of 149, by yjfy

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1.4.4 Graphics Solution-SC WITH GAME

PN 109003200 FCC ID:EXM 5RSGSSCGM

64KB DRAM

Equipped with a game interface.

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Reply 10 of 149, by yjfy

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1.5 Other

Graphics Solution graphics cards were cost-effective at the time. In addition to being cloned, Graphics Solution chips were also used.

1.5.1 Sell chip

NYSE TECHNOLOGY purchased Central chip and related graphics card design, slightly modified to 990107-01 graphics card.

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Reply 11 of 149, by yjfy

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1.5.2 Clone Graphics Solution

TANDY obtained the authorization of Graphics Solution to clone and use it directly.

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Reply 12 of 149, by yjfy

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2. EGA Wonder series

The ATI EGA Wonder series are some of the first graphics add on products for IBM PCs and compatibles introduced by ATI Technologies since 1986.These cards combine support for multiple graphics standards (and disPlays) into a single card. Since these graphics cards have better performance than IBM's display systems, they have attracted the attention of computer manufacturers and users!

ATI uses CHIPS EGA chips in the EGA Wonder series, and ATI's first VGA graphics card V.I.P. also uses CHIPS chips. After that, ATI also quickly developed a VGA display chip and released the VGA Wonder series of graphics cards. Since then, it has used its own chips to produce graphics cards.

EGA Wonder series products have added EPROM to store settings, but they still can’t automatically detect the type of display, and need to be switched through the DIP Switch on the display card. EGA Wonder series graphics cards are equipped with 256KB video memory.

2.1 EGA Wonder

FCCID:EXM5RSEGA0

Sales began shortly after passing FCCID certification on November 13, 1986.

Use CHIPS 82C431+82C432+82C433+82C434 chip, and ATI Central chip CW16800-A. Supports CGA, Hercules mono & EGA graphics modes. 256KB DRAM, 8-bit ISA bus.

2.1.1 PN 16890

The EGA Wonder pictured below is an ATI Official announcement picture, It is an engineering sample. Some of ATI's early engineering samples used special PN numbers.

EGA Wonder Engineering Sample

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Reply 15 of 149, by yjfy

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2.2 EGA Wonder 800

PN 16900 FCCID:EXM5RSEGA2

Use CHIPS P86C435 +ATI16899-0 (Clock generator chip) chip. Supports CGA, Hercules mono & EGA graphics modes, adding 16-color VGA display mode (800×600). 256kb DRAM, 8-bit ISA bus.

Before EGA Wonder 800, there is a model of FCCID: EXM5RSEGA1, but the information is not detailed, it may be a transitional model, and there are not many mass productions.

EGA Wonder 800 later Cost reduced model. Soldered DRAM. No feature connector or composite became EGA Wonder 480.

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Reply 16 of 149, by yjfy

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2.3 EGA Wonder 800+

PN 109006000 FCCID:EXM5RSVGA8B1

In fact, it is the VGA Wonder graphics card that removes the VGA function and retains the EGA function.

(From Vlask on vgamuseum.info)

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Reply 17 of 149, by yjfy

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2.4 V.I.P. (VGA Improved Performance)

PN 18008 FCCID:EXM5RSVIP1

1987-10-1 passed FCCID certification and started to sell in early December.

This is the first VGA card from ATi. It supports for EGA/VGA Softsense automatic mode switching (DIP switch selectable). The actual VGA controller on this card is the Chips P82C441 supporting a max. clock of 30 MHz.9-pin TTL and 15-pin analogue connectors.

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Reply 18 of 149, by yjfy

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3. VGA Wonder series

VGA Wonder was launched in 1988. It is ATI's first-generation graphics chip and the true core product of the VGA era. The VGA Wonder graphics card adds an EPROM for storing settings, which can automatically detect the display type. Later also supports SVGA display mode. There are mainly 5 types of VGA Wonder graphics cards, with 512KB/1MB of video memory, to cope with the 2D image display that does not require high graphics cards. The performance of these graphics cards has been improved compared to EGA Wonder, and ATI has become famous ever since.

3.1 VGA Wonder

Use ATI18800/18800-1 chip, 256/512KB DRAM memory.

ATI VGA Wonder Scheduled to ship in July 1988.

High-resolution drivers are the same as those included with the V.I.P. board.Maybe ATI bought the VGA graphics technology from CHIPS.

3.1.1 VGA Wonder Engineering Sample

VGA Wonder is an 8-bit ISA interface. The official announcement picture appeared in July 1988 and is an engineering sample.

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Reply 19 of 149, by yjfy

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3.1.2 VGA Wonder

PN 109006000 FCCID:EXM5RSVGA8B1

VGA Wonder is also called VGA Wonder-8, with 256KB DRAM.

(From Palcal on vgamuseum.info)

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