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FPU, software, and a Classic II

beachycove

Well-known member
I’ve been sitting on the fence as to whether to order an FPU card for my Classic II. I suppose my question is whether any software actually usable on a Classic II makes use of an FPU. Is there a list somewhere handy (old magazines, whatever) of FPU-aware 68k software that would help me settle one way or another?

I’ve put this question in the Compact section because, well, it‘s really about one of my favourite machines and how I use it.
 
The only software that I'm aware of that requires the presence of the FPU is Mathematica. I've been able to run this on my Classic II successfully, with maxed out RAM (10MB) and the FPU.

Other software may be sped up by the FPU - I can see a difference in the benchmark scores for floating point operations - but I can't say that I've noticed any software feeling snappier.
 

Byrd

Well-known member
I suppose if you use your Classic II a lot, and want to see it run close to an SE/30, I'd go the FPU
 

rplacd

Well-known member
The only software that I'm aware of that requires the presence of the FPU is Mathematica. I've been able to run this on my Classic II successfully, with maxed out RAM (10MB) and the FPU.
Random question: did you need a license for that Mathematica? I've wanted to run Mathematica on a classic Mac, but I haven't found an abandonware Mathematica with a free license.
 

beachycove

Well-known member
The Classic II was in a way my entrance point to Apple products, so I have a real soft spot for it. It is sort of gratifying to see how much the darned thing is able to do, despite its limitations, and after all these years.

The thread I found after posting and that I pointed to above interests me in this connection, first because Elfen knows/knew what he was talking about (is he still ‘with us’? — I seem to recall that there were health issues), and also because of his specific reference to the mathematical demands of PS and TT Macintosh fonts. I mostly work in text, mainly using Nisus Writer 5 on the machine.

One limitation of the Classic II as I use it is that it can be a teeny bit slow shoving characters on the screen from the keyboard when typing at speed and using a proportional font (I like to use Verdana, which is easy on the eye for lengthy textual work, and very well behaved on old Macs — look at the way it handles italics, for instance). When a monospaced font like Courier is used on the Classic II, on the other hand, performance is better in multiple respects, including not only slinging text onto the screen, but also in scrolling. So maybe if Elfen is to be believed, a co-processor would help matters along, and allow text in Verdana to behave as well as text in Courier.

If anyone could confirm that, my decision would be made.
 
The Classic II was in a way my entrance point to Apple products, so I have a real soft spot for it. It is sort of gratifying to see how much the darned thing is able to do, despite its limitations, and after all these years.

The thread I found after posting and that I pointed to above interests me in this connection, first because Elfen knows/knew what he was talking about (is he still ‘with us’? — I seem to recall that there were health issues), and also because of his specific reference to the mathematical demands of PS and TT Macintosh fonts. I mostly work in text, mainly using Nisus Writer 5 on the machine.

One limitation of the Classic II as I use it is that it can be a teeny bit slow shoving characters on the screen from the keyboard when typing at speed and using a proportional font (I like to use Verdana, which is easy on the eye for lengthy textual work, and very well behaved on old Macs — look at the way it handles italics, for instance). When a monospaced font like Courier is used on the Classic II, on the other hand, performance is better in multiple respects, including not only slinging text onto the screen, but also in scrolling. So maybe if Elfen is to be believed, a co-processor would help matters along, and allow text in Verdana to behave as well as text in Courier.

If anyone could confirm that, my decision would be made.
I'm happy to try running some tests on my FPU'ed Classic II to see if the FPU does make a difference for text handling (particularly scrolling). It will probably take me a couple of days to get set up but I'll report back when I have some measurements.
 
The Classic II was in a way my entrance point to Apple products, so I have a real soft spot for it. It is sort of gratifying to see how much the darned thing is able to do, despite its limitations, and after all these years.

The thread I found after posting and that I pointed to above interests me in this connection, first because Elfen knows/knew what he was talking about (is he still ‘with us’? — I seem to recall that there were health issues), and also because of his specific reference to the mathematical demands of PS and TT Macintosh fonts. I mostly work in text, mainly using Nisus Writer 5 on the machine.

One limitation of the Classic II as I use it is that it can be a teeny bit slow shoving characters on the screen from the keyboard when typing at speed and using a proportional font (I like to use Verdana, which is easy on the eye for lengthy textual work, and very well behaved on old Macs — look at the way it handles italics, for instance). When a monospaced font like Courier is used on the Classic II, on the other hand, performance is better in multiple respects, including not only slinging text onto the screen, but also in scrolling. So maybe if Elfen is to be believed, a co-processor would help matters along, and allow text in Verdana to behave as well as text in Courier.

If anyone could confirm that, my decision would be made.
As promised, I ran some scrolling tests on my Mac Classic II (System 7.5.5, 10MB RAM and 68882 FPU) with Nisus 4.1.6.

Using the text of the sample Report document that Nisus includes, I timed the length of time to scroll the length of the document, using the down arrow key. The document was 14 pages in length and I ran the test for both Courier and Times typefaces (I don't have Verdana so substituted Times in its place).

Overall there was about a 10% variation between the two typefaces, with Times being a bit faster than Courier:
  • Times (12pt): 57 seconds
  • Courier (10pt): 64 seconds
I'm not a Nisus user so I can't say what the performance is like without the FPU. There may be a minor performance improvement because of the FPU but whether it's enough for you to justify the expense of fitting it, I'll leave that to you to judge.

Interestingly, when I repeated this test in Microsoft Word 5.1, there was no variation in scrolling speed. Both versions of the document took 70 seconds to scroll from top to bottom.

I hope that this is of some use to you.
 
As promised, I ran some scrolling tests on my Mac Classic II (System 7.5.5, 10MB RAM and 68882 FPU) with Nisus 4.1.6.

Using the text of the sample Report document that Nisus includes, I timed the length of time to scroll the length of the document, using the down arrow key. The document was 14 pages in length and I ran the test for both Courier and Times typefaces (I don't have Verdana so substituted Times in its place).

Overall there was about a 10% variation between the two typefaces, with Times being a bit faster than Courier:
  • Times (12pt): 57 seconds
  • Courier (10pt): 64 seconds
I'm not a Nisus user so I can't say what the performance is like without the FPU. There may be a minor performance improvement because of the FPU but whether it's enough for you to justify the expense of fitting it, I'll leave that to you to judge.

Interestingly, when I repeated this test in Microsoft Word 5.1, there was no variation in scrolling speed. Both versions of the document took 70 seconds to scroll from top to bottom.

I hope that this is of some use to you.
One further update: I repeated my tests in Mini vMac and saw similar variation in the scroll timings for Nisus - Times 12pt was about ten percent faster than Courier 10pt.

Given that vMac emulates a standard MC68000 Mac system, I don't think that the difference in timings that I was seeing on my Mac Classic II can be down to the presence of the FPU.
 

beachycove

Well-known member
Thanks for this. 10% is not to be sniffed at in a marginal system, I suppose. Was the Times a TrueType font?
 
Thanks for this. 10% is not to be sniffed at in a marginal system, I suppose. Was the Times a TrueType font?
Yes, it was.

To be honest, the more I think about it, the less I'm sure that the performance gains came from the presence of the FPU. Looking at the stats in Nisus, the document had 492 lines when Times 12pt was used and 568 for Courier 10pt. That's enough of a difference to explain the faster scrolling time.

I'll run some more tests on Monday/Tuesday to investigate further. It would be good to do tests using the Verdana typeface that you're wanting to use. Where did you get it from? Is it available online somewhere?
 

beachycove

Well-known member
It is kind of you to look into this.

Verdana is a standard part of later OS installations, certainly from 8.6-ish. But I don’t think anything would be font specific. What you are seeing appears to confirm that there is as little use made of the 68882 by the System software as by most applications. Tis a shame.
 
Ah, I'd forgotten that it was included in later MacOS installs. I've have a root around my disks and see what I can find.

Unfortunately the Classic II's performance bottlenecks are likely too fundamental to be resolved by the addition of an FPU. However I'll do some more testing next week and see if I can turn up any glimmers of hope.
 
It is kind of you to look into this.

Verdana is a standard part of later OS installations, certainly from 8.6-ish. But I don’t think anything would be font specific. What you are seeing appears to confirm that there is as little use made of the 68882 by the System software as by most applications. Tis a shame.
I repeated my scrolling tests for Nisus today, both with and without the FPU card. The scrolling speeds for both proportional and fixed-width TT typefaces were unaffected by the presence/absence of the FPU card.

I think that we can conclude that the FPU won't help you in your quest to speed up Nisus on a Classic II. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!
 

uliwitness

Active member
The only software that I'm aware of that requires the presence of the FPU is Mathematica. I've been able to run this on my Classic II successfully, with maxed out RAM (10MB) and the FPU.

Other software may be sped up by the FPU - I can see a difference in the benchmark scores for floating point operations - but I can't say that I've noticed any software feeling snappier.
I think there were some others ... I remember having some software from CDs refuse to launch on my LC back when. Might have been drawing apps? Was Painter already around on 68k, or did that start with PPC? I'd expect it was likely a drawing/audio editing app or a game, as that's the majority of apps I'd have been running back then.
 
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