VOGONS


First post, by Stiletto

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"Lord Nightmare" brought my attention to this 3D accelerator card for the mid-late 90's Mac:
http://www.forcedperfect.net/hardware/cards/a … uickdraw3dcard/
http://appletechlab.jp/blog-entry-926.html

Supposedly shipped November 1995.

also known as "White Magic" Board.

This could use some additional research.

We don't know what the 3D "core" is inside the custom Texas Instruments ASICs, whether it's off the shelf, custom for Apple, or licensed 3dlabs or S3 or Rendition Verite or 3dfx Voodoo or some other mid/late 90s dead end 3d accellerator?

Whatever it is, it did bilinear interpolation and fog/alpha and some sort of non-nearest filtering.

It's not a stock PC accelerator since those were all native PCI - this seems to use a PCI bridge chip.

At one point Texas Instruments manufactured 3dlabs Permedia chips on behalf of 3dlabs. Alliance Semiconductor RAM could imply Alliance AT3D, but Alliance was making RAM for all sorts of vendors...

Or like I said it could be based off no existing technology and custom designed for Apple.

Most parts seem to be manufactured 1994.

Well, at this point I'm just spitballing ideas. 😀

[EDIT] More discussion:
https://www.macgurus.com/forums/showthread.ph … ccelerator-Card

At the moment current thought is that they're full-custom chips for Apple.

[EDIT]Interesting feature:

  • A single card accelerates 3D rendering to all frame buffers in the system.
  • Hardware rendering performance can be doubled simply by installing a second card.

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 3 of 41, by Stiletto

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mrau wrote:

texas instruments, but cant find specifics; there were many of these it seems and they probably just take data from RAM and spit out the product into RAM again, which may be slow;

I'm a little less concerned with the TI chip and more concerned with the chip above it which displays no logo aside from a (C) 1994 Apple. 😀

Anyhow, as of now I'm getting the story straight from Bitsavers so will write up a little more when I can. 😉

Anyhow, VGAMuseum guys you may want to look into acquiring this one, seems relatively rare (though of course not PC compatible per se - PCI bus yeah, but no drivers...)

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 4 of 41, by swaaye

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Interesting. I've been messing with my PowerMac 7500 lately and just last night tried MechWarrior 2 QD3D edition. It runs but has rendering errors on the PCI Radeon that I have. I wonder just what card would run it correctly.

I also wonder how many cards supported this QuickDraw 3D thing. Wikipedia makes the API sound painful like D3D 3 / D3D retained mode.

Reply 5 of 41, by Stiletto

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swaaye wrote:

Interesting.

I figured you guys would like this. 😉

swaaye wrote:

I also wonder how many cards supported this QuickDraw 3D thing. Wikipedia makes the API sound painful like D3D 3 / D3D retained mode.

Dunno. I was listmaking back in my 3D API research days but I don't think I got very far.

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 6 of 41, by Stiletto

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More:
Whatever the Apple QuickDraw 3D Accelerator Card is, it's something that works in quads. Supposedly, QuickDraw3D / RAVE is all quads. And it can do true perspective rather than affine perspective. That might narrow the field down, i.e. not 3dfx. Something similar to nVidia NV-1 perhaps, or based off the flightsim-type hardware that the likes of Sega was using in Sega Model 1/2 arcade hardware.

According to our friend at Bitsavers, "the guys that did ( the Apple QuickDraw 3D Accelerator Card later left and ) went to nVidia as I recall. Apple had a lot of stuff in the 'multimedia' ASIC space that never shipped."

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 7 of 41, by vlask

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Stiletto wrote:

Anyhow, VGAMuseum guys you may want to look into acquiring this one, seems relatively rare (though of course not PC compatible per se - PCI bus yeah, but no drivers...)

Nice one, but id like collecting cards which i can test in mine PC - sold all 3 apples i had.... And also buying only cheap cards, thats why im still missing PCX1/2, NV1.... With cards like these is no fun for me.

Been thinking about adding Apple tree into graphics tree, but history of apple is full of custom made chips with no names and next to zero info. Thats why Apple is only one maker missing there. Lately got one tip from some guy, but still think that doing Apple cards lineup will be very hard task.

Not only mine graphics cards collection at http://www.vgamuseum.info

Reply 8 of 41, by Stiletto

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vlask wrote:

Been thinking about adding Apple tree into graphics tree, but history of apple is full of custom made chips with no names and next to zero info. Thats why Apple is only one maker missing there. Lately got one tip from some guy, but still think that doing Apple cards lineup will be very hard task.

Bitsavers dropped a whole bunch of knowledge on me in a chat channel the other day. If you want to go down this road, let me know - we can probably help provide you with some information. 😀

"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

Stiletto

Reply 9 of 41, by vlask

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Stiletto wrote:

Bitsavers dropped a whole bunch of knowledge on me in a chat channel the other day. If you want to go down this road, let me know - we can probably help provide you with some information. 😀

Well need some direct info already filtered to same as i have in tree (name of chip, max mem size, year). For example got some basic info in email from one guy - hes talking about codenames i never heard nor i will be able to assign them to numbers on chips. They used same chips in many different models, but with no good names - only numbers, thats why is too hard to identify them. Heres part of that email....

Almost all of Apple's pre-1997 video cards are based on unaccelerated frame buffer chips, designed in-house by Apple. They all pretty much work the same way, too, and they're either based on the "Toby" frame buffer controller (the original Macintosh II Video Card and its High-Resolution variant; 8-bit only), the "JMFB" (the 4*8 and 8*24; 4-, 8-, or 24-bit), or the Direct-Access Frame Buffer (practically all Quadras; I understand the high-performance video cards for the original Power Macs are similar). The PowerSurge used a PCI-based DAFB variant called "CONTROL", hung off of an AGP-like interface called "CHAOS". I think it had hardware cursor support and not much else.

The only accelerated card produced by Apple in the NuBus era was the (fairly rare) Video Card 8*24GC, which included an AMD 29k RISC CPU for QuickDraw acceleration. Apple was rumored to be working on a second accelerated in-house video chipset for the never-released Power Mac x700 range, but it was cancelled in favor of the ATI Rage II for what was released as the Power Mac G3.

Not only mine graphics cards collection at http://www.vgamuseum.info

Reply 10 of 41, by swaaye

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I've been trying to find info on just what the onboard graphics of the 7500 is and I figured it was dumb frame buffer. There don't seem to be any extensions or drivers for it. It does have its own discrete video RAM though. I guess for better high resolution and high color performance.

When the Radeon drivers aren't installed, that card behaves like the onboard graphics. Including high resolution and color depth support without drivers.

Reply 11 of 41, by DandumontP

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I have found a card, and tested on a Power Mac G3 B&W.

I have really tested one game : Havoc (and it's better with card than with the Rage 128) : http://www.journaldulapin.com/2016/11/04/carte-quickdraw/

It works great on Mac OS 9, but many games will not launch, because there is only 512 KB RAM on the card

Reply 12 of 41, by RaVeN-05

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sorry for bumping, if you still have video card maybe you can make Video of them?

http://www.pangeasoft.net/nano/files.html this game is mac only uses quickdraw3d (official site)

also look on their website it seems many games utilize API http://www.pangeasoft.net/

another game is WaterRace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy2bn7iOMvs

https://hexenworld.org/forum/index.php (Heretic's & HeXen's forum)
https://www.youtube.com/user/whitemagicraven
https://go.twitch.tv/whitemagicraventv

Reply 13 of 41, by DandumontP

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It will not work with these games, because there is only 512 KB of video RAM. Actually, i can only launch Havoc with the card. Nanosaur need a 4 MB card (eventyally a 2 MB card with the iMac special version)

Reply 14 of 41, by RaVeN-05

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Maybe you know something about emulators? There is any emulator that support QuickDraw3D? Or any plans on devs todo it
I understand correctly?:
there is 3 video cards for apple: applle 1994, Ati rage 3d, 3dfx?

https://hexenworld.org/forum/index.php (Heretic's & HeXen's forum)
https://www.youtube.com/user/whitemagicraven
https://go.twitch.tv/whitemagicraventv

Reply 15 of 41, by DandumontP

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QuickDraw (RAVE) is supported with many graphics card.

3dfx (from Voodoo to Voodoo 5), ATi Rage IIc, Pro, 128, Radeon, etc, many cards from Nvidia under Mac OS 9 and even with Permedia 3 cards.

But it's not the bette choice with 3dfx (Glide is better) and many games support also software rendering or OpenGL (not common).

Reply 16 of 41, by kaiser77_1982

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I am writing about this API for a future book, and I know this API thanks to @dandomuntP, the question is that I have found this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5_nk-fz_aE
I hope it helps you.

PS: Sorry for the retro-bump.

Reply 17 of 41, by stynx

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I have researched a bit about this card.
It has the codename of "Gotham" and development began in 1987 in the "Apple Advanced Technology Group". Two key-developers were Michael Kelley and Stephanie Winner. There are several Papers and Patents available online. The accelerator is a 'modified scanline renderer'. It receives a Z-sorted list of triangles from the Host computer and calculates 16 pixel tokens at a time. The tokens are transferred to the frame buffer over PCI, one token at a time. It reads 2 pixels per 2 clocks (40 MHz) and needs 4 clocks to filter 4 pixels in a line CORRECTION: The pixel format in the memory seems to be 16bit color, not 32bit color. So 8 pixels are read in 4 clocks-cycles. The card is always rendering at 24bits with 8bits alpha. The Z-index accuracy is 32bits and x/y-accuracy are 16bits each.

Technical info:
120.000 Polygons/s
10 MTexels/s (100 pixels, trilinear filtering)
20 MPixels/s without Textures
trilinear filtering, mipmapping and transparency

The card has only 512K of texture Memory and supports up to 256x256 textures (tested that myself). I have tested two cards together and the performance increase is about 80%. Adding a fast frame buffer seriously speeds up the filtrate. The card does not suppose QuickDraw 3D RAVE. This is a bummer as most 3D-accelerated games on the mac need QD3D RAVE support. Games that do run with the cards are mostly from Pangea Software and use the QD3D "Interactive Renderer"-interface. The limited 512K texture memory is limiting playability, though.

Weekend Warrior: missing textures
Bugdom: missing textures
Nanosaur: missing Textures
Havoc: Works perfectly

Behind the curtain:
The patents and papers hint at a completely different performance for the prototype card. It my have had 8 render pipelines with 2Mb of memory each. The triangle throughput may have been as high as 880.000 Polygons/s. This card may have been called 'White Magic'. The TI-chip on the card is either a TMS320 DSP or a PCI-bridge. There may have been a second iteration of the card in 1996 to be released in 1997 that had up to 2.000.000 Polygons/s and 100 MTexels/s. The "Apple Advanced Technology Group" was closed early 1997 by Steve Jobs and the QD3D Accelerator project was canceled.
The 'Gotham' card has some unconnected pins in between the address lines. It may have the capacity for more than 512K of memory. The original 64 bit texture ram data-bus was reduced to a two-cycle 32 bit data bus, reducing the throughput to only 160 Mb/s from 320Mb/s. The memory is cited as 2 times 131072 x 32 bit (1Mb) in a patent and is two times 131072 x 16 bit (512k) in the Gotham card. The said paten only describes 128x128 textures, though. The original patent describes a 18bit wide data-bus to each pixel (36bits per cycle = 2 pixels). The Gotham card has only 16bits (maybe 15bit color + 1 bit transparency?). The patent describes the Gotham card pretty accurately otherwise, even the maximum of 256x256 texture size.

More maybe later 😉

Last edited by stynx on 2021-11-04, 17:19. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 18 of 41, by RaVeN-05

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Exellent info:
I just at moment trying to document as much more as i can games that use RAVE API
3d accelerators on other platforms not PC

and seems it doomed , i mean there is no way to play them on modern way(s), only by buying a retro Mac that os9 compatible. No wrappers , nmo emulators, and mac osx is not support classic mode apps and i think rave is also unsupported here.

https://hexenworld.org/forum/index.php (Heretic's & HeXen's forum)
https://www.youtube.com/user/whitemagicraven
https://go.twitch.tv/whitemagicraventv

Reply 19 of 41, by stynx

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While tracing the address lines on the bigger ASIC, I found two pins without connection that were in the direct vicinity of the other address lines. On an oscilloscope I could see activity on these lines when textures were loaded but no activity otherwise. I'm pretty sure that these lines address lines.
The memory is separated into two banks that represent the even and odd pixels of the stored texture. The previously mentioned patent had 10 shared address lines and 7 separate line to reach banks with two banks of 131072x32 bits (512k each). You need 7 bits to access the even and odd pixels for 256x256 textures. If the address lines are separate, it would result in 1Mb of total addressable memory. If the additional lines are shared, it would result in 2Mb of addressable memory without any change in the maximum texture size. I will have to remeasure the lines and check if the seemingly unused lines are actually unused. The patent describes a card with 512k memory.

The other 128Kb of SRAM is the object cache for the Z-sorted list of polygons.

The card can be overclocked to 44 MHz fron the stock 40 MHz. The limiting factors are SRAM-speed (15ns) and heat (the ASIC gets very hot!). 45MHz worked for less than 10 minutes with a freezed system. I have installed active coolers on the cards since they got very hot in a highly crammed PowerMac 7500.

Interesting quirks:
- Quickdraw 3D automatically scales any texture bigger than 256x256 down by averaging in software before uploading into the card.
- The method of 'upscaling' in the QD3D card looks strange/noisy as a pixel will be bigger than the 16 pixel token and artifices become visible.
- If the Z-Index can not be calculated accurate enough, a 16pixel wide pattern can be seen where textures and objects overlap.
- The trilinear filtering is per scan line only (one dimensional), which results in a different visual representation of horizontal vs. vertical textures.
- Object composition is done in software as is the Z-sorting of Polygons. A faster processor will result in faster drawing in complex scenes.
- Massive overlap of transparent objects will result in a multi-pass rendering of that area with a steep incline of passes per layer.

Last edited by stynx on 2021-11-04, 17:20. Edited 1 time in total.