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Sonnet Crescendo L2 G3 upgrade model compatibility

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So, I'm looking for a little clarity if there is any regarding the compatibility of the L2 version of the Sonnet Crescendo G3 upgrade. From what I've seen, most all will work on 64/54/65/5500 and similar-arch Macs/clones without issues. The oddballs are the LPX-40/Tanzania-based Macs/clones which needed specific models... is there rhyme or reason beyond the packaging/labeling to designate whether one of these is compatible with a 4400??

I don't want to keep jerking around people I'm trying to trade with over the wrong specs/numbers/literature...*


Here's where I'm coming from:

Currently on ebay (as of this writing) there is a 300 Mhz version, with this bit in the accompanying literature (btw, I messaged them, and there is no standard part # label on that card...):




However, I recently went back through my imgur archive and found this on a card I knew to be working in my 4400 (box label, and card):




After I had to sadly let that one go, I found a 500, which worked with a cocktail of system folder pieces (no box label with this one, and I also sadly had to let this one go): I must've just gotten lucky with this. It worked right out of the box at 400 MHz on my 4400 and required the system folder additions to work at 500 MHz (StarMax board).



And now my current one, *which I'm offering to trade for a 400 MHz model, does not work on any of my LPX-40 boards, regardless of the drivers, which has my head scratching:



Well, this seems to be a revision thing? Or is it still dependent on what label is on the box?


Is there anyone here who can shed some light on which models/revisions are compatible with the 4400/LPX-40/Tanzania architecture?



Edited by jessenator
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Is there any way to know, say, if this specific card would work on my 4400? It's a later(?) revision of the card from the previous 400 MHz card that I know worked, so would that equate to more universal model compatibility?



One thing I noticed, is the PCB from this card (above, in this post) has this PCB version:


And my confirmed-compatible card seems to have the same (it was horribly cropped, but I see a "D" in it):

Edited by jessenator
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According to MacInfo.de :

Alchemy: August 1996
Tanzania: October 1996
Tanzania II: ? 1997
Gazelle: February 1997


As far as I can tell, LPX-40 (Tanzania) boards are the same arch with only certain versions having a different graphics chipset, perhaps on-board networking on some clone models—but the boards were designed to be that way for PREP/CHRP (which they really aren't compliant to 100% anyway).

The only difference between Tanzania and Tanzania II, from what I've gathered, is a few resistors swapped and a 50 MHz crystal to operate the faster bus. It's nowhere near the jump from Alchemy to Gazelle in difference. Not by a long shot.

Edited by jessenator
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Caught me editing, it's modified Tanzania according to LEM. I wonder if they just happened to use the same Cache card of the lesser(?) Alchemy/Gazelle machines?


LEM has an interesting article: G3 Upgrades for the Level 2 Cache Slot


Manufacturer CPU
5.0 rating*
Street Price
adjustable bus
320 MHz 1 MB 160 MHz   disc.  
300 MHz 512 KB 150 MHz disc.
260 MHz 512 KB 130 MHz disc.
Newer Tech
400 MHz 1 MB 200 MHz   disc.  
400 MHz 1 MB 200 MHz disc.
300 MHz 512 KB 150 MHz disc.
Phase 5
300 MHz 1 MB 150 MHz   disc.  
400 MHz 1 MB 160 MHz   disc.  
320 MHz 1 MB 160 MHz disc.
240 MHz 512 KB 120 MHz disc.
Sonnet Technologies
Crescendo/L2 G3
updated 5/12/03
500 MHz 1 MB 250 MHz   $250  
400 MHz 1 MB 200 MHz $200
400 MHz 512 KB 133 MHz disc.
350 MHz 1 MB 175 MHz disc.
300 MHz 512 KB 150 MHz disc.
250 MHz 512 KB 125 MHz disc.
VPower PF
320 MHz 512 KB 120 MHz   disc.  
240 MHz 1 MB 160 MHz   disc.  


Crescendo/L2 G3 update stands out.


My first thought was that the 4400 might share some of the wonkiness of 5500/6500/TAM Gazelle related incompatibilities with expansion cards. Sonnet listed the Tempotrio as compatible with Gazelle, but dropped support and removed those machines from its compatibility list when the wonkiness induced incompatibility reared its ugly head.


Interesting questions.

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That article already has my false-o-meter twitching... The C500 and C600 are NOT LPX-40 based clones, but, Typhoon (aka Alchemy reference design) boards (it's even screen-printed onto the boards). This coincides with Sonnet's own literature, outlining the compatibility of whatever revision of the card it accompanied: lumping the C500/600 in with Apple's Alchemy offerings.


Also AFAIK the LPX-40 had two versions of a singular, universal board design (see my post above) in order to conform to the LPX standard of the time (or at least as close as Apple was willing to go...), and was never a referenced design, but always used the same Apple-stamped boards and populated with small variations of components (see above), regardless of OEM name on the case: as most were Motorola sub-licensees anyway. But I would defer to Franklinstein on that one, as they knows these clones better than I do.



But I digress, I wonder then if just a later revision of the card would be enough to be fully compatible...

Edited by jessenator
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8 hours ago, jessenator said:

That article already has my false-o-meter twitching...

As it should, take it with a LARGE BLOCK of salt LEM info should do that for everyone most of the time. LEM's a great source for general info and finding leads to further research. I use it like WikiPedia, a source for beginning a search for more reliable info much closer to first source. EveryMac is my second stop and significantly more reliable in general, but the crosslinking of LEM info is a far better bounce around just to see what's up kinda interface. Compare both, neither fully reliable and you can chip a far smaller hunk of salt off the LEM block for further research. [;)] 

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8 hours ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:


Unfortunately, Wikipedia authors have taken to quoting LEM in their content :facepalm:  I've recently discovered the asimov.apple.wahtever repository (as well as an MIT repository?) of Apple tech notes, which has been very enlightening. I really would wish said authors would look to the same source materials instead of looking at LEM as it is: a glorified blog, sprinkled with facts, drowning in an opinion gravy.


I wish Sonnet had more, but I'm surprised they even had as much as they did, to be honest. Just the install manual, and the last revision :/ nothing about the actual revisions. 

Now I want to make a db of what's compatible with what like I did with the PPC daughter card db I made... just need more facts. Anyone we know here have at least quasi-intimate knowledge of Sonnet's products to make a more informed decision? I wonder if looking at old catalogs would help at all... 'm guessing they won't be as specific as is needed here.

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Great project! :approve:


I'll try to pull together what I've saved along the way in case it went away on Sonnet's site. As a Radius fanatic, I segued into Crescendo/L2 G3 and related PCI expansion products for my 6360 based purchase and later upgrade plns when my favorite accelerator company went belly up. Pretty sure you can still get far enough into Sonnet's site to dig up what technical info was available, manuals, updates and such.

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From the manual:



At this printing [2000], the following Power Macintosh and Mac OS compatible computers can be upgraded with Crescendo/L2 processor upgrade cards:
• Power Macintosh 4400, 5400, 5500, 6400, 6500, 7220
• Performa 5400, 5420, 5430, 5440, 6360, 6400, 6410, 6420
• 20th Anniversary Macintosh
• Power Computing PowerBase
• Motorola® StarMax 3000, 4000, 5000, 5500


• Not all cards work in all machines; check the package for definitive compatibility.



So, it really is down to the packaging to be "definitive" (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻


From a February 1999 capture of the Sonnet website:


CPU/Backside Cache:
PowerPC G3 250 with 125/512K backside cache.
PowerPC G3 300 with 150 MHz/512K backside cache.
PowerPC G3 300 with 150 MHz/1M backside cache.
PowerPC G3 400 with 200 MHz/1M backside cache.

FPU: Integrated with PowerPC processor.

Level 2 Backside Cache: 512K or 1MB.

Part #: BG3-250-512, BG3-300-512, BG3-300-1M, BG3-400-1M*
(*supports only 50 MHz bus machines.)

Part #: B4G3-250-512, B4G3-300-512, B4G3-300-1M.
(These models support the Power Mac 4400; and StarMax 3000, 4000, 5000, 5500.)

A capture from September 1999 which showcases the "new" 500 MHz version still has the same p/n nomenclature: #BG3 vs #B4G3

March 2000 has roughly the same content as the 09/99 capture...

June 2000 adds the PCC PowerBase (even though they had daughter cards???)
What's interesting is that the B4G3 product lines top out at 300 MHz, and the 400/1 upgrade says it only supports machines with a 50 MHz bus speed. HMMM.
that's my 4400 running the aforementioned, working 400 MHz upgrade card... and in any case, the BOX label said it was compatible (though interestingly the StarMax models aren't listed, even though, hardware-wise, they're identical...) which is bizzare, UNTIL January 2001:


Part # BG3*
    Power Macintosh 4400, 5400, 5500, 6400, 6500, 72200
    Performa 54xx, 6360, 64xx
    20th Anniversary Macintosh
    PowerBase Desktop, Minitower
    UMAX C500, C600, C600X
Part # B4G3*
    Power Macintosh 4400, 7220

StarMax 3000, 4000, 5000, 5500


Part #BG3 G3 Speed L2 Cache Speed/Size MSRP
BG3-400-512 400 MHz 133 MHz/512K $249.95
BG3-400-1M 400 MHz 200 MHz/1MB $349.95
BG3-500-1M** 500 MHz 250 MHz/1MB


Part #BG4 G3 Speed L2 Cache Speed/Size MSRP
B4G3-300-512 300 MHz 150 MHz/512K $199.95
B4G3-300-1M 300 MHz 150 MHz/512K $229.95
B4G3-350-1M 320-350 MHz 160-175 MHz/1MB $299.95


There it is... At some point it just becomes part of the main list of supported products. The segmentation starts to make less sense by this point, but... well, there's some sort of an answer at least... Now if only the board rev dates matched these dates.


Edited by jessenator
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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm pretty sure the bulk of it is being able to cope with either 40 or 50MHz buses without hassle (Sonnet makes a big deal about their 'no switches, etc' motto) and possibly only certain speed ratings or model revisions could auto-detect and switch between 40 or 50MHz, hence the restrictions. Sonnet's Fortissimo trickery would be required if you wanted to try to run an x400 model at 500MHz (the PPC 750 will not clock over 10x bus speed, so you'd have to fake it using Fortissimo if you wanted 500MHz on a 40MHz bus). The L2 cache slot form factor may have been too small to work Fortissimo into though, hence the inability to use the fastest card in 40MHz machines.

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Apparently the early early 400 MHz cards (announced March '99) didn't support said 10x multiplier until they started using the PPC755 in late January 2000*, which explains the first-glance weird description:

On 8/11/2020 at 5:10 AM, jessenator said:

Part #: BG3-250-512, BG3-300-512, BG3-300-1M, BG3-400-1M*
(*supports only 50 MHz bus machines.)

*take that with a grain of salt. I mean, it's supposedly from Sonnet

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So after finding that mention of a PR/Account Management correspondence on 6400Zone, I started corroborating, with what's left on WayBack Machine, across other contemporary review sites, and it seems that assumption was correct: from February 23 1999 all of the L2 upgrades will work on the 4400/StarMax/LPX-40 clones. So the #B4G3-xxx LPX-40/Tanzania-specific cards must have been surplus, I guess? or perhaps to be sold at a different price point, due to the motherboard-specific compatibility?



Sonnet announced Monday [February 22, 1999] that they had sold out of the 240 MHz G3 L2 upgrades and would be replacing them in their product line with a 250 Mhz model at the same price (US$399). Similarly, from now on all of Sonnet's L2 upgrades will also support the Power Macintosh 4400 and the Motorola StarMax line.


The 400 MHz card hadn't been announced yet from what I've gathered, so it's safe to assume all 400 MHz and 500 MHz rev cards should be compatible with the LPX-40-based Mac(s) and clones. The announcement date for the 400 MHz card is March 19, 1999, so that puts it in the window of compatibility with these machines.


There are anecdotes housed on 6400Zone that talk of customers being sent the #B4G3 p/n (LPX-40-only) cards by mistake, but haven't run into any of people being sent the #BG3 cards and they not working on a 4400—at least as far as the 400+ speed cards anyway.

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Sorry to interrupt the Sonnet-centric discussion but in case this info helps - I picked up an Interware Booster (320mhz l2, same as the Vimage mentioned in LEM) and it doesn’t state compatibility with the Tanzania based clones. I could try it in my 4400 though.





Edited by JRL
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16 hours ago, JRL said:

I picked up an Interware Booster

That's pretty neat! Interware had some fascinating upgrade products.


Back when I bought my first 400 MHz Sonnet L2 the same seller had a Vimage-branded version. Its proportions weren't nearly as nice and "long" as that version you have, or the Sonnet flavors; it was super blocky and I wonder if it would've blocked 12" PCI cards. I kick myself every so often for not picking it up as well, the price being what it was :( OH well. Another white whale appears to be the LittleJoe from Metabox... don't think I've seen one in the wild, just the lo-res image on EveryMac. I assume they just lost out to the "simplicity" of Sonnet, maybe?


Your Interware box does have the typical (well, JDM probably) Alchemy/Gazelle models listed, so I'm fairly confident it won't work, and please don't feel obligated to open your mint-in-box piece on my account ;) but if you're interested, go for it.


In general I find the L2 slot upgrades fascinating, in the same way I find the PM7200's G3 upgrade fascinating. All those circuit design gymnastics required to do what Apple didn't want to have happen.

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On 9/4/2020 at 4:14 PM, jessenator said:

Vimage-branded version. Its proportions weren't nearly as nice and "long" as that version you have, or the Sonnet flavors; it was super blocky and I wonder if it would've blocked 12" PCI cards

You probably saw the early 4400-specific model. Those were huge, roughly 2x taller than the later 64*54 models, and AFAIK only available at 240MHz. The 64*54 would probably work in a 4400 or other Tanzania clone but it's designed to be smaller to fit comfortably in the Alchemy models. They're a good choice to use in a Power Color Classic mod since they don't require you to cut away the chassis to fit unlike the taller Sonnet cards.

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