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PPC740L G3 CPU Daughterboard For Blackbird Powerbooks


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2 hours ago, Paralel said:

What I find fascinating about this board is the lack of PBX ASIC. Is the PBX located on the logic board of the 1400? The developer note for the 1400 don't make it clear where the PBX is located for the 1400.

It would make sense for the PBX ASIC to be on the motherboard in the 1400, because unlike the "Blackbird" the RAM modules are also connected to separate slots on the motherboard, not hanging off the CPU card. Note that the card also doesn't have the ROM chips on it. So, in short, it looks like there's a lot "less of the computer" on the CPU card in a 1400 vs. a Blackbird. The two connectors on the bottom of the 1400 card are almost certainly little more than a buffered version of the CPU's direct pinout.

I'm going to hazard a guess that the mystery chip labeled "PBG3D" on that Sonnet 1400 upgrade are a cache controller for the SRAM chips; the 1400 originally didn't have a L2 cache.

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8 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

What? That's not how computer busses work.

Could be wrong, usually am. But SCSC and the Video Card span displays, both limited to 16bits. That's why the unobtanium NewerTECH VIEWpowr 1400/16 is just that, limited to 16bits, that's what the connector speaks. I may not recall correctly, but in tracing lines from PBX on the 1400 logic board to the Video and Card Cage connectors (15 years ago) they appeared split left and right and to be a high/low type of thing. We're also not talking about any old normal computer bus here. The funky bridged 68030 NuBus architecture PowerBook I/O setup of everything from Blackbird up to the PCI architecture 3400 was a kluge from top to bottom  .  .  .

 

.  .  .  except for the Duo System, that was perfection! :lol:

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2 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

It would make sense for the PBX ASIC to be on the motherboard in the 1400, because unlike the "Blackbird" the RAM modules are also connected to separate slots on the motherboard, not hanging off the CPU card. Note that the card also doesn't have the ROM chips on it  <snip>   The two connectors on the bottom of the 1400 card are almost certainly little more than a buffered version of the CPU's direct pinout.

Exactly, PBX is located on the solder side of the 1400 board centered between the connectors above. Processor card interconnect is definitely a direct connection to the PBX Memory Controller/Bus Bridge which handles ROM, RAM and Expansion RAM on the Logic Board. PBX itself handles the buffering. I was surprised to see no additional buffering for the 1400, in the others the 603e and PBX are all but conjoined twins. 

 

2 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

I'm going to hazard a guess that the mystery chip labeled "PBG3D" on that Sonnet 1400 upgrade are a cache controller for the SRAM chips; the 1400 originally didn't have a L2 cache.

Yep, that's why I said there's probably no mystery about what's under the sticker. 133MHz and 166MHz processor cards w/cache have a similar setup. What the heck are those five ICs between the connectors on the Sonnet G3 board? I can't make heads or tails out of the designations  .  .  .  so I'm waiting for somebody who knows something about them to chime in. :approve:

 

2 hours ago, Gorgonops said:

So, in short, it looks like there's a lot "less of the computer" on the CPU card in a 1400 vs. a Blackbird.

Absolutely, that's why I'm targeting the 1400 processor card for a 666MHz FX build. Pretty much all needed would be the CPU, the specified resistors, capacitors and whatever voltage regulator black magic would be required. That's the recipe for the 117MHz Processor card:

 

1400-117-ProcCard-001.JPG

 

1300-117-ProcCard-000.JPG

 

Paralel, would shots of the 166MHz 1400 card be helpful for comparing it to the Sonnet G3 and the cache-deprived 117MHz card above? I may have a 133MHz card in the stack as well.

 

G, the 117MHz logic board is incompatible with either of the two later Processor Cards with Cache implemented. IIRC, the 133MHz Logic Board can be upgraded with the 166MHz Card. Might it be worthwhile to figure out why the 117MHz logic board is a special case? For the first release 117MHz logic board you have to go straight to a G3 upgrade.

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I think we have all the answers we need at this point. This gives me at least 90% confidence in the BlackBird G3 project succeeding. Since the PBX on the NuPowr is the same as those found on the 5300, and the same as those found on the 1400, there is absolutely no reason the G3 won't be compatible with the PBX. The G3 upgrades of the 1400 series work with its PBX natively without any alterations.

 

It's easy to see that Newer Technologies was telling the truth about their BlackBird G3 upgrade. They basically had the entire thing completed with their previous design, the only thing they needed to do was stick a G3 on there rather than a 603. As a company, they'd be mentally ill not to pursue building a G3 for the BlackBird given the above, combined with how many of them were out there when they would have made it, and how popular the upgrade would have been. The molds for the BlackBird CPU Daughterboard connector being destroyed at Apple's request is the only situation where they wouldn't bother building it. Apple obviously didn't want any competition with future models, since even if Newer Technologies didn't change the design of the CPU Daughterboard at all, they could have made G3 upgrades for the Blackbird that would have been able to easily match the Wallstreet. If they did some basic changes to the design they could have been able to provide upgrades that could have matched the Lombard. Apple would never want people using a BlackBird with a G3 upgrade if they could sell you a 5300, 1400, 3400, Pismo, or Wallstreet.

 

Hard to believe, but we've basically proven through research that the old story about "Destroyed Molds" was completely true.

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If it was a custom Apple part OEM'd by AMP, that makes a world of sense. If it was generally available as a standard AMP part in an existing product lineup, EvilApple conspiracy theory makes very little sense to me.

 

G3 enhanced Blackbirds might have been competitive up to the 1400 aside from their obvious Optical Drive deficiency and crappy LCD resolution. But there's absolutely no way that they'd have remained competitive beyond that point. Even the 2400c had a 40MHz System Bus for its G3 cards. The Wallstreet's 66MHz/83MHz buses combined with 1024x768 resolutions on the latter at 250MHz, much less 292MHz would stomp a 666MHz G3 Blackbird into guano pronto. Not to mention the 512MB vs. 64MB RAM ceiling that would be a no-brainer nod to the WS.

 

Haven't looked at Kanga spec, but it would probably be a contender against any possible Blackbird stuffathon as well.

 

Sorry, there are good reasons I've but a couple of mobos and processor cards from your favorite PowerBook series. I'd almost certainly choose the PB190 over a Blackbird. But I'm right here in the game for your summit attempt! [:P]

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10 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

If it was a custom Apple part OEM'd by AMP, that makes a world of sense. If it was generally available as a standard AMP part in an existing product lineup, EvilApple conspiracy theory makes very little sense to me.

 

G3 enhanced Blackbirds might have been competitive up to the 1400 aside from their obvious Optical Drive deficiency and crappy LCD resolution. But there's absolutely no way that they'd have remained competitive beyond that point. Even the 2400c had a 40MHz System Bus for its G3 cards. The Wallstreet's 66MHz/83MHz buses combined with 1024x768 resolutions on the latter at 250MHz, much less 292MHz would stomp a 666MHz G3 Blackbird into guano pronto. Not to mention the 512MB vs. 64MB RAM ceiling that would be a no-brainer nod to the WS.

 

Haven't looked at Kanga spec, but it would probably be a contender against any possible Blackbird stuffathon as well.

 

Sorry, there are good reasons I've but a couple of mobos and processor cards from your favorite PowerBook series. I'd almost certainly choose the PB190 over a Blackbird. But I'm right here in the game for your summit attempt! [:P]

 

Yeah, but someone doing a simple processor upgrade wouldn't expect contemporary performance, that's a given with any processor upgrade. I mean, no one expected a 1400 with a G3 upgrade to match or outperform a top end Wallstreet. I was basically saying, if someone had a BlackBird, and they could shove a decent G3 into it for a few bucks, or buy a whole new system, for the money, I think many people would have considered it a reasonable option, despite the obvious limitations. It basically comes down to a dollars and cents situation. Given the contemporary interest in a G3 upgrade for the BlackBird (people actually calling up Newer Technologies and asking when it would be ready) people seemed to want it. Newer would have easily been leaving money on the table if they didn't make it, and for any company that is stupid, so a major factor like connectors no longer being available, is really the only reason a company would do that.

 

Given the number of G3 and G4 upgrades produced for desktop Mac's, which were relatively popular, for an upgrade, I would say it supports my theory that people had no problem upgrading the processor in their favorite machine, despite the limitations, rather than buy a new machine.

Edited by Paralel
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6 minutes ago, Paralel said:

Some people would accept the limitations to keep their old hardware going than buy a new system.

No doubt, just dialing back the timeline for all but nostalgia driven upgrades. Had it been love for a first PowerBook that drove purchase decisions, that would have another story entirely.  Then there are also practical reasons for upgrading rather than replacing. Before PowerBooks were released that could match the portable power of an SE/30 .

 

I agree with you entirely about the tradeoffs, even MacWorld made sure to point those out in Accelerator reviews. So long as the accelerator was a reasonably low multiple of the cost of biting the bullet and buying a current replacement for any given Mac, the case for upgrading a bought and paid for machine made a lot of sense. That argument breaks down when OS or Processor spec. for required software versions outstrip capabilities.

 

From the other side, accelerator upgrade path availability drove decisions of my production machine purchases from late eighties thru Y2K. G3 was the reason I opted for the purchase of a maxed out, obsolescent 1400c/166 when the 2300c, my main portable machine to that point was inadequate for playing around at WarDriving. It never replaced the 2300c/Docks home and at work bookkeeping setup. The 1400c/G3 was finally replaced when CoffeeDrinking came into vogue and HP-Mini returned me to the PowerBook 100/Duo System.

 

At any rate, the "just because I can" and "Apple decided I couldn't do so" mindset of this project rulz! [;)]

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I consider "Just Because" the raison d'etre for a project like this.

 

With my background as a research scientist. turning the theoretical into hard proof has always been my goal.

 

I'm all for goal oriented research if that's what thrills someone. But, no one can deny that lots of excellent science has come from the pure "Can it be done?/Why does this happen?" aspect of scientific research and inquiry. It's why my heart aches whenever I see cuts for basic bench research. You can't have goal oriented research if there is nothing to build from. Basic bench research is the core of science.

Edited by Paralel
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Is your comparison to BaselineBird or to the 166MHz accelerated 603e PPC upgraded Bird?

 

Just ran across the Pentium OverDrive, an example of CPU retrofitting of a more capable wider bus CPU to a narrow bus in existing systems. I wasn't aware Intel ever did such things themselves. The parralels to what you're thinking about for Plan B are remarkable.

Edited by Trash80toHP_Mini
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58 minutes ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Just ran across the Pentium OverDrive, an example of CPU retrofitting of a more capable wider bus CPU to a narrow bus in existing systems. I wasn't aware Intel ever did such things themselves. The parralels to what you're thinking about for Plan B are remarkable.

 

I have to admit, I am not too familiar with the PO's, as when they were made, they were generally seen as a unreliable on some MoBo's, straight out incompatible with many VLB cards and drive controllers, and performance was "Meh" at best, so I generally told people it was just not a good idea.

 

Interestingly, Plan B has now forked, what was formally known as "Plan B" is now known as "Plan B2". With there now being a Plan B1 which is 100% guaranteed to work. I didn't want to call them "B" & "C" because they are not sequential, Plan B2 & Plan B1 are divergent, going two different routes, with two different goals, running in parallel. Plan B1 is essentially complete as there is literally no doubt of its success. However, I am not interested in announcing Plan B1 until we know the outcome of Plan A. Regardless of Plan A's success, I will announce Plan B1 and it will greatly enhance the capabilities of either the 167 MHz or 183 MHz NuPowr based CPU daughtercard for the BlackBird, if an owner chooses not to go for the G3 (or if Plan A fails).

Edited by Paralel
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On 1/20/2019 at 12:28 PM, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Is your comparison to BaselineBird or to the 166MHz accelerated 603e PPC upgraded Bird?...

 

166MHz accelerated 603ev PPC upgraded BlackBird. So, ~55% above that.

 

On 1/20/2019 at 10:38 PM, CC_333 said:

Hmm, now I'm curious!
 

Do faster 603ev's or 604's exist in a form factor we can use?

 

c

 

The question is a little overbroad, there are multiple "lineages" of 603ev and 604, but you're 50% of the way there.

 

On 1/20/2019 at 11:34 PM, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Sounds more like plan A with a side order of Plan A1 if it's based on proc-swapping an existing PPC upgrade? Plan B would take it to the next level, designing the entirely new G3/RAM card I proposed, using only a donated interconnect. [}:)]

Yeah, Plan B2 would need only a donated interconnect, along with the new board design. Luckily, those could be harvested from 520 CPU daughtercards, which would be no great loss.

Edited by Paralel
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Do the original Blackbird CPU modules carry the PBX chip?   I'm still a little hazy following the details here.    I remember that Macmetex on Ebay had a bunch of Blackbird CPU modules at a very low price many years ago.    The 68040s were soldered down and LC models, so the cards weren't very interesting as parts.    But if they all also carried a PBX chip and the needed connectors, it might be worth messaging him.

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1 minute ago, trag said:

Do the original Blackbird CPU modules carry the PBX chip?

No, they're a different architecture. The chip on the underside of the original 5x0 cards (I forget its name) functions as the memory controller and bridges the processor's '040 bus to the '030 bus used by the rest of the system. The PBX has the same function but it bridges the 603e's 60x bus to the '030 bus, so they're not interchangeable.

 

The processor cards may still be of value to someone interested in Plan B2 because they can harvest the connectors.

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21 hours ago, Franklinstein said:

No, they're a different architecture. 

The PBX has the same function but it bridges the 603e's 60x bus to the '030 bus, so they're not interchangeable.

 

Thank you for the explanation/clarification.   That makes sense.

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23 hours ago, Franklinstein said:

The PBX has the same function but it bridges the 603e's 60x bus to the '030 bus, so they're not interchangeable.

It is mildly amusing, I suppose, that when you think about it the architecture used in these machines is basically analogous to that of a Pentium-class PC that has all peripherals other than memory connected to a 16 bit ISA bus. Sure, I guess you could technically argue it's not *that* bad because the PBX "030" bus should be a good three or four times faster or so than 16bit ISA, but it's still at least theoretically majorly gimped compared to a comparably-priced PC laptop of the era.

(The PowerBook 5300 came out in August 1995; having checked my recollections by referring to Archive.org's magazine rack a typical high-end PC laptop would use either VESA Local Bus or PCI for local interconnect, at least for the IDE and video controllers. And a Pentium model would have a full 64 bit RAM bus; the 5300/1400's 32 bit RAM is more comparable to a much cheaper 486DX/4 model, but I suppose that's another matter.)

Maybe it didn't really matter because the bus was still as fast as it needed to be, given all the other limitations of the era. But, wow, it still comes off as yet another poster child of how mid-1990's Apple engineering rolled.

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thread jack/

As much as I like them, I believe the Duo series really gimped the rest of the PowerBook line because, in an effort to reduce costs and share parts between models, Apple likely designed chips to the lowest common denominator, which would have been the Duo series because of their legacy Dock architecture originally designed for the 68030 bus. To allow a 68040 or PPC-based Duo to utilize a Dock, the computer had to present an '030 bus in order to interface with the Dock's internals. So, it was easiest to simply bridge the newer processor architectures directly to the common '030 bus and as a bonus, you could keep using all the legacy ASICs (video, SCSI, ATA, etc) to save even more money and potentially improve your time-to-market.

 

The MPC105 was introduced in early 1995 (the hardware spec manual is dated January), which may have been a tad late for inclusion in the 5300 project, but I figure Motorola would've had Apple, as part of the AIM alliance, in on or at least aware of its early development. However it's possible Apple's engineering team was unaware of it at the time, or they just wanted to roll their own chips, but a PowerBook 5300 with an MPC105 could easily have run with up to a 66MHz processor bus, full 64-bit memory support, and allow the use of fast PCI disk and display controllers, all of which would've been equal or greater than the PC notebooks of the era. Plus it would have enabled the use of off-the-shelf components to decrease cost and development time. Instead we got a late, expensive, slow machine built mostly out of compromises and broken dreams and that generally was viewed as a joke by most people outside of the Mac faithful.

/thread jack

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Back on topic, there are a number of PPC chips that are directly pin-compatible:

BGA-encapsulated 603e and 740

750 and 7400/7410

750FX and 750GX

There are a handful of other chips that are footprint compatible but not directly drop-in and as such won't work without some mods (in the case of the 603e and the 745).

 

Any other chips are not cross-compatible and as such will either require an interposer of some type (such as used in the 750FX-based upgrades for Pismos) or a whole new processor card designed and built (like with the majority of past Mac upgrades).

 

For this project, the only readily available solution is the 740. Further research may result in a mod or two that would enable the use of a 745. The use of any other chip will require an interposer or a new card. Personally I think an interposer would be the best solution because otherwise you'd have to harvest all of the chips off an existing card (at least, the ROMs and PBX) and then attach them to the new card along with any new chips you'd want to use (I assume you'd want to install more RAM, at least). With an interposer you just have to get the interposer itself built and mounted between the existing pads on the processor card and your new CPU.

I've made the case previously for using the 750CX in these machines (and the 2300/5300/1400 upgrade projects) because it is a fast, cool-running chip with 256k of onboard L2 cache in a low-profile package that protects the processor die from accidental damage during installation. The FX and GX are faster, but they're hotter and more fragile, plus they have more pins than the CX. In addition, your return diminishes with each increase in clock frequency: at 667MHz (the maximum available at a 20x clock), the 33MHz memory bus is a huge bottleneck, not including the slower '030 bus on the rest of the board. The 750CX would be easier to implement and also its 333MHz maximum speed would be a huge improvement without wasting most of your new clock cycles in waiting for the rest of the system to catch up.

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I think you're taking the 601/PCI out of the context of architectural development at Apple, 5300 was NuBus architecture, not just 68030 I/O bus architecture. Apple needed much more time to field a PCI architecture PowerBook. Apple released 68040 PB190 as the new low end model alongside the 603e 5300 flagship and 2300c in 8/95. The NuBus architecture 1400 was a CD capable stopgap machine introduced 10/96 with the flagship PCI architecture 3400c released 2/97, just 17 months after the 5300 sent the Blackbirds packing..

 

Apple discontinued 68040 Blackbirds the day the 5300 was released, so the high end went from the 33MHz 68040/NuBus w/68030 I/O there to 3400c/240MHz 603e/PCI I/O in just seventeen months.

 

NuBus architecture/68030 I/O at 33MHz was plenty good enough from the early 100MHz 'Books through even the 1400c @166MHz/cache released 7/97, 5 months after the faster PCI 3400c. Nothing needed to be done all that much more speedily or widely in that time frame. I think CardBus compatibility was the big thing really. If you can believe Wikipedia, it wasn't generally available in Laptops until late 97. Apple had it in the 3400c at its 2/97 rollout.

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