07
Apr
14

Storage Photo Tour 3

This weekend I was having a tidy up, between doing more domestic style cleaning I got out another one of my storage boxes to document its contents. I’ve done this twice before, once here at my place and once at my parents place. You can find the posts here and here.

This time around I found less older hardware and some more modern stuff, in particular a cache of AGP graphics cards of various types.

IMG_2097

First up I have an assortment of network cards. The one of the right is the venerable NE2000 card that was frequently cloned. Interestingly it was made by Novell, a company, more well-known for its Netware product. You can see a Netware sticker on it proclaiming compatibility. This is a much later version of the card with surface mount technology and plug and play built-in, the original NE2000 came out before these became common. These cards made networking much cheaper, and swayed the market towards Ethernet and away from Token Ring networks championed by IBM. The card on the left is a PCI version of the NE2000.

The middle card is a Realtek Ethernet card, another commodity device. All three of these cards are great to have as they are all easy to get drivers for. Even Windows 98 has drivers built-in for many Realtek devices. Nowadays these Realtek chips usually only appear on main boards instead of on expansion cards.

IMG_2098

Here we have two Sound Blaster Compatibly audio cards. Even into the late 90’s the Sound Blaster standard carried quite a bit of weight. Whilst most new software used Windows 9x, and hence didn’t depend on hardware, many people were still playing and making older DOS based games. If your card didn’t support one of the older Sound Blaster standards you basically didn’t get any sound.

Many cards such as these two didn’t have the support built-in hardware. You had to load some TSR programs to enable the legacy compatibility. This could be a problem for some games that required lots of conventional RAM, as each TSR would use a little bit.

IMG_2099

Starting from the bottom we have a QIC02 Tape drive controller on the right and a IO expansion board made by a company called Eagle. The QIC was an early tape standard, QIC standing for Quarter Inch Cartridge, it is interesting because of the way the tape was driven. Instead of your normal capstan and pinch roller, the QIC drives used a continuous belt in direct contact with the tape. I’d love to see one of these drives and their internals! This controller could support 4 drives on a 50 wire cable not compatible with SCSI.

The IO Expansion card was a common sight in older PC’s. This one has a high level of integration, it has a floppy controller, IDE Controller, 2 serial ports, a parallel port, a game port and what looks like a PC speaker connector! This would likely have been installed in either a 286 or 386 machine, before main board integration became common for those devices.

At the top there are two more modern SCSI controllers and a USB 1.1 controller. The SCSI controller on the left is a cheaper Adaptec card, and would have been used with early CD burners as they were mostly SCSI in 1999 when it was made. The SCSI controller on the right only provides an external port and would have been designed to work with a flatbed scanner. Early scanners used SCSI as it was significantly faster than other expansion buses at the time.

The USB card is pretty standard for its age. Many main boards didn’t have extra headers or many USB ports so when you ran out your only option was to install one of these cards. It is still a good practice today in many ways as cabling from main board headers are frequently substandard, I’ve seen them melt on occasion making machines un-bootable. Also having a separate controller will mean less sharing of bandwidth between devices and hence higher speed.

IMG_2100

Here and in the last picture is a RAM converter from SIMM packages to the larger 72 pin package. I’ve never seen one of these in use, they couldn’t be very reliable compared to a normal 72 pin module. RAM densities also increased significantly after the decline of SIMMs so this would have limited the amount you could install. I’d also imagine its physical foot-print being a problem in many smaller chassis. This would have required a set of 4 matched SIMMS to work correctly. I noted it seems to be missing two bypass caps on the left of the board.

IMG_2102

An oddly shaped Symbios Logic SCSI card, again used for external devices only most likely a scanner or tape drive. The odd shape of the board would allow the manufacturer to accommodate more PCBs on a panel during manufacture. It was made in 1996, after other standards like PCI became common, being an ISA device this would not have performed well in comparison to contemporary devices. Luckily scanners and tape drives aren’t as fast as hard disks.

IMG_2103

Here is an assortment of mostly AGP Graphics cards. The AGP standard was introduced in 1997. It was a separate bus directly connected to the CPU allowing maximum communication between them. AGP cards could also directly access RAM to make transferring bitmaps/textures to the card faster, there was a section of RAM set aside called the aperture. You could think of AGP as the equivalent of VLB for PCI based systems.

The top card and the centre one are both Matrox AGP cards. Neither of them are particularly good at 3d graphics compared to Nvidia or ATI cards of the time, but this wasn’t their purpose. Matrox cards were well known for supporting multi-head configurations better than others. These cards are dual-head cards, but I have seen AGP and PCI ones that will support four.

Matrox is one of the older Video card manufacturers and has somehow survived the market conditions that killed most competitors. They still make video cards, but are more specialised and targeted towards the industrial and enterprise markets.

The card to the right is a Trident 3dImage, one of the later cards they produced. Trident generally produced budget cards that frequently had budget performance. Unlike Matrox they didn’t survive the introduction of 3d accelerators.

The card at the bottom is an unknown, I’ll have to install it to find out! The card above it is a PCI-e Nvidia 6600 which was a mid-range card when it was made. It is a good representative of what modern graphics cards often look like.

IMG_2104

These parts are from a machine I bought for spares to attempt to fix my Amstrad ALT386. All the main components are here. The main board is the biggest one, and unfortunately had its NiCad battery leak. I’ve removed it, so it doesn’t cause more problems but the board is probably no good. The right card carries the ROMs, co-processor and RAM slots, it is important to keep its contacts clean! The bottom left card is the ISA bus and graphic card riser to which the graphic card (bottom right) is attached.

IMG_2105

Lastly a selection of RAM. From left-to-right we have some DDR SODIMMs, DDR, SDRAM, and 72 pin SIMM RAM. These examples are unfortunately in need of a clean, but I won’t do that until I intend on using them.

This concludes today’s random collection of parts! I hope you enjoyed!

 

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2 Responses to “Storage Photo Tour 3”


  1. 1 goughlui
    April 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Nice to see some more vintage hardware. I haven’t ever seen a SIMM-verter in use, or even in person, so it’s lovely to see just how bulky it is.

    The mystery AGP graphic card on the bottom is likely to be a TNT2 (if I guess correctly) – you can tell me when you test it out :).

    If I had more time, I would go through some of the interesting things I’ve collected over the years, but thoroughly enjoyed seeing this post.

    – Gough

    • April 7, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      It was quite fun unpacking and looking at it all! I also am getting a better idea of what I already have so I don’t end up with too many duplicates when I get more hardware.

      I checked all the markings on the card and made the same guess, but I had a look at some TNT2 cards and they had a large DIP ROM chip frequently marked with version and card information. The heatsink also seemed smaller. This made me second guess myself, I guess I’ll find out when I plug it in! It could be a later version of the TNT2.

      Cheers
      Sparcie


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