[NPL] Sonnet G3 Upgrade Compatibility
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

[NPL] Sonnet G3 Upgrade Compatibility

G3 UPGRADE CARD COMPATIBILITY

A recent MacWeek article brought focus to what has been, for some, a
suspicion of compatibility problems between PowerPC G3 (750) processor
upgrade cards and the ROMs in PowerPC 601/604/604e-based systems. We
feel this story rightfully identified one potential for incompatibility,
but did
not adequately address Sonnet's superior approach to compatibility
assurance. We would like to shed additional light on this topic and make sure
that our customers understand what steps Sonnet takes early in the
development of our Crescendo G3 products to insure compatibility.

Sonnet Capability

It is worth establishing Sonnet's credibility in this matter as a preface
to the
discussion. Sonnet had been designing and manufacturing its own upgrade
cards for 12 years. Sonnet's staff includes the former director of hardware
engineering at DayStar Digital, the former director of software engineering
at Applied Engineering, and engineers for the Macintosh 604e multiprocessor
card and Macintosh video conferencing hardware among other projects.

Background

The primary focus of the MacWeek article deals with the speculative
processing characteristics of the Power PC 750 Microprocessor and its
potential for random incompatibility with the I/O functions of older Power
Macintosh models. In the article both Sonnet and Newer are quoted to have
engineered a fix for the problem, albeit through different approaches. What
was left out of the story was the detail of which I/O devices are at risk of
incompatibility, why they become vulnerable at different times (system boot
versus application execution), how this varies by Power Mac platform
(NuBus Mac, PCI Mac), and what type of solution is actually required for
each condition.

Technical Background

Both the 750 and 604 do speculative execution, i.e. they guess at the way a
branch instruction will go, and then will execute the next instructions along
this path. However, they do not commit any results to the destination until
the branch is resolved. Speculative execution in itself cannot cause a problem.
Memory prefetching, which the 750 does to a greater extent than the 604, is a
bus interface operation in which the bus unit executes a read that may or may
not be committed to final use. If it is not committed, it may be fetched again.
This may result in lost data from an I/O device only if the I/O device throws
the data away after being read. Most modern I/O devices do not have a
problem with modern processor prefetch operations. Status registers do not
change just because they are read. Data transfers that do change upon read
are directly transferred to memory (DMA) without processor intervention or
speculative prefetches.

What about the few I/O devices that may have a problem with prefetches?
The problem can be readily solved in software, and can be solved at a global
level or at a local level. At the global level the G3 kernel environment is
set up
to prevent inappropriate memory prefetching for all I/O devices. At the local
level, a well-written I/O software driver will equally prevent inappropriate
memory prefetching.

Levels Of Compatibility In PCI Power Macintoshes

The MacWeek article did not explicitly state, but implied a discussion about
PCI Mac upgrade cards. Only two companies, including Sonnet, have
demonstrated the engineering capability to engineer G3 upgrade cards for
NuBus Macs. We will discuss NuBus upgrades separately below. To
understand compatibility in PCI Macs, Sonnet has broken it down into three
levels.

* 100% G3 compatible -- as is.
* 100% G3 compatible -- G3 kernel setup
* Not G3 compatible.

100% G3 compatible--as is.

Application software that is compatible with an
Apple Power Mac G3, and Mac OS through 8.5 is 100% compatible with a G3
upgrade card (except for dependencies on third-party hardware as we will
discuss later).

Extensive testing has shown that all Power Macintosh motherboard
hardware with current Apple drivers can boot with full reliability with G3
upgrade cards.

How can we assure these strong compatibility statements? Sonnet has done
extensive and sophisticated testing of standard Apple disk drivers for
compatibility with Sonnet G3 upgrade cards. Nevertheless, the best
assurance is a Sonnet installed base of the tens of thousands of G3 cards
without a related trouble report. As the number of trouble-free installations
go up, the probability that a problem exists goes down--way down.

100% G3 compatible--G3 kernel setup.

Many third-party hardware vendors
do not have G3 clean drivers and require a global G3 clean environment for
proper operation. Sonnet and NewerTech have developed software that sets
up the G3 kernel when the Mac OS boots to insure a clean G3 environment
for those hardware drivers that may not be G3 clean.

For example, some third-party video capture hardware/software systems do
not have a G3 clean driver. A G3 clean kernel makes these cards work in spite
of their local faults.

So what's the difference between Sonnet's and NewerTech's approach?
Sonnet sets up the G3 kernel from a software extension; Newer sets up the
G3 kernel from software in ROM on the G3 card. Why has Sonnet chosen this
approach?

Because Apple hardware and OS boot software are G3 clean, setting up the
G3 kernel from ROM instead of from an extension is not needed and has two
major disadvantages:

1) ROM adds unnecessary cost. Sonnet believes that the user should get
reliable AND cost-effective hardware. We leave it to the customers to
find superior cost-effectiveness in Sonnet Crescendo G3 cards.

2) ROM-based software, such as the NewerTech approach, requires
shipping the card to the factory if an update is needed. Sonnet believes
that software updates for the customers should be free and easy-to-obtain.
Sonnet software updates are posted on our web site.

NewerTech has at least two ROM versions in the field and perhaps
more. For example, an extract from the NewerTech web site:

Q. I am using an Adaptec Ultra-Wide SCSI. I get an empty gray
startup screen.

A. You have an early revision of the MAXpowr G3 that needs to
be modified. Please contact Newer Technology Technical Support
for an RMA.

Sonnet can update our customers by posting software to the web site. How
many times will NewerTech customers need to ship their cards back to the
factory?

Are there any disadvantages to the Sonnet approach? Yes, there is one
disadvantage, but it is only a temporary one. From all of Sonnet's testing and
our customers experiences, there is only one case where a G3 environment
loaded from ROM is currently needed. The Adaptec Power Domain 2940 and
3940 Ultra-Wide SCSI controllers using current version 3.0 firmware are not
G3 clean unless the G3 kernel is already set up. (The Adaptec controllers work
fine in all non-processor-upgraded Macintosh systems including G3 Macs.)
Contrary to NewerTech's suggestion, however, a speculative read causes the
Adaptec controller to hang at the very first access and has never damaged
any data to our knowledge. Sonnet's choice for the customer was to either
add ROM and cost to our card, or to work with Adaptec engineering so that
Adaptec could update their firmware. Indeed, Sonnet and Adaptec have been
testing Version 4 firmware for some time, are about to release it to beta test,
and expect an official release in January 1999. Adaptec firmware is contained
in FLASH ROM and is user updatable with a software utility.

Devices that are not G3 compatible at all.

There are some hardware upgrade cards, such as one video capture card of
which we are aware, that have additional G3 issues that render them
incompatible with Apple G3 Power Macintoshes and Power Macintoshes with G3
upgrades. If they are to be fixed, the responsibility remains with the
manufacturer.
Compatibility In NuBus Power Macintoshes

G3 upgrades for NuBus Power Macintoshes render the debate moot. Only
Sonnet and NewerTech manufacture G3 upgrades for NuBus Power Macs.
We both take the same approach. We boot from the motherboard 601 in the
6100, 7100, or 8100, we set up the G3 kernel, then we turn on the G3. Our
competitor has used ROM cost as the justification for higher prices for PCI
Mac G3 upgrades. How can our competitor justify higher prices than Sonnet
for NuBus Mac G3 upgrades?

Of course, there are some NuBus upgrade cards that are not G3 compatible.
The respective manufacturers have long since lost interest in making these
mostly-obsolete cards G3 compatible. Sonnet is actively working on behalf of
our customers to fix some third-party cards that are not G3 compatible.

What MacWeek Missed

An article about compatibility would be incomplete without discussing
reliability. Sonnet's trademarked slogan is "Simply Fast". Sonnet believes
that a user should have no concerns about compatibility or reliability.
Consequently Sonnet products are easy to install--no switches, no jumpers,
no control panels. Plug it in, run a software installer, and restart. Why
do our
competitors have switches, jumpers, and/or control panels? Our competitors
allow the user to attempt to push the CPU speed, cache speed, and/or
memory speed above the manufacturer's rated specifications. At first glance,
one may think that getting more speed from a chip, potentially underrated by
the manufacturer, would be like getting free performance. It may also be a
ticket to system crashes AND data corruption.

What are the technical issues of allowing the user to fiddle with the speeds?
What's wrong with, "Let's push it above rated specifications until it crashes
and then back off a little?" NewerTech even automates the process with a
control panel that will help you push the SRAM speed unless the G3 does not
pass a trivial one-second diagnostic with the speed pushed.

First, Motorola, IBM and the SRAM manufacturers specify operating speed
over a temperature range. In general, as temperature increases, the top
speed of a processor or SRAM decreases. What would you think if you set up
your machine to run above rated speed on a cool day and the next warm day
your system starts crashing? Would you think, I need to open the Power mac
and adjust down the speed switches? Would you call your reseller for
technical support?

Second, according to the top PowerPC design engineers at IBM, high-end
processor speed degrades slightly over time. This degradation is limited,
well-characterized, and allowed for in the speed designation on the PowerPC
750 (G3) processors. A processor pushed above manufacturer's specifications
today, may not work reliably in six months! Furthermore, according to IBM,
the computer may lose data integrity well before losing system integrity. In
other words, the user may lose mission critical data and not know it.

Conclusion

We believe in what we sell. Sonnet runs its own G3 cards in its servers backed
up with Dantz Retrospect software, and in workstations throughout the
company, including several with Adaptec SCSI controllers (version 4
firmware, of course). Sonnet backs all its products with an industry-leading
three-year warranty.

Sonnet has shipped tens of thousands of Crescendo G3 upgrade cards with
fewer than one-half of one per cent experiencing any kind of compatibility
issues. Except for a couple of early-on reported bugs, that were all quickly
fixed, the subsequent issues have been third-party device specific and many of
those have been resolved through regular updates to our software. We have
not had a single report or experience of data corruption on a hard drive with
our G3 kernel software. Sonnet believes that our users will experience easier
installation than with any of our competitors, bullet-proof reliability, and
near 100% compatibility. Sonnet preconfigures reliable bus speeds, cache
ratios, and CPU speeds, consistent with manufacturer specifications. Sonnet
tests every card at the factory. This approach should dramatically decrease
end user frustrations, protect their data integrity, and alleviate the need to
place a technical support call.

Sincerely,

Robert Farnsworth
President
Sonnet Technologies

 
AAPL
$112.03
Apple Inc.
-0.62
MSFT
$47.96
Microsoft Corpora
+0.44
GOOG
$514.90
Google Inc.
+3.80

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

calibre 2.13 - Complete e-library manage...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Mellel 3.3.7 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
ScreenFlow 5.0.1 - Create screen recordi...
Save 10% with the exclusive MacUpdate coupon code: AFMacUpdate10 Buy now! ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your... Read more
Simon 4.0 - Monitor changes and crashes...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
BBEdit 11.0.2 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
ExpanDrive 4.2.1 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Adobe After Effects CC 2014 13.2 - Creat...
After Effects CC 2014 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous After Effects customer). After Effects CS6 is still available... Read more
Evernote 6.0.5 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
Command-C 1.1.7 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Tidy Up 4.0.2 - Find duplicate files and...
Tidy Up is a complete duplicate finder and disk-tidiness utility. With Tidy Up you can search for duplicate files and packages by the owner application, content, type, creator, extension, time... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minec...
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minecraft: Story Mode – A Telltale Games Series Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their...
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their New Game: Tempo Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] WarChest Ltd and Splash Damage Ltd are teaming up again to work | Read more »
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary...
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary with a Bunch of Free Games Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] BulkyPix has | Read more »
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking F...
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking Fever’s new sushi-themed update Posted by Simon Reed on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Lithuanian developer Nordcurrent has yet again updated its restaurant simulat | Read more »
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to C...
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to Celebrate 20 Million Downloads Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Desti...
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Destiny, and Beyond – AppSpy Takes a Look at AAA Companion Apps Posted by Rob Rich on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] These day | Read more »
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Fre...
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Free for the Holidays Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Shift - Photo Filters Designed By You (...
Shift - Photo Filters Designed By You 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Elastic Drums (Music)
Elastic Drums 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Music Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: *** Introduction price 3,99$ instead of 7,99$ *** Elastic Drums is a music app with 6 channels of synthesized drum sounds, a step... | Read more »
Fireworks Simulator (Games)
Fireworks Simulator 1.0.8 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0.8 (iTunes) Description: *** 50% discount – For a short time only *** You can play Fireworks Simulator on these devices: - iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, 6,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

It’s 1992 Again At Sony Pictures, Except For...
Techcrunch’s John Biggs interviewed a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) employee, who quite understandably wished to remain anonymous, regarding post-hack conditions in SPE’s L.A office, explaining “... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Pros for...
 B&H Photo has new MacBook Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP as part of their Holiday pricing. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1699... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Airs for...
B&H Photo has 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, for a limited time, for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holiday shopping season. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: iMacs for up to $...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software: - 21″ 1.4GHz... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac minis availab...
B&H Photo has new 2014 Mac minis on sale for up to $80 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $459 $40 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $629 $70 off MSRP... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac Pros for up t...
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $500 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2599, $400 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3499, $... Read more
Save up to $400 on MacBooks with Apple Certif...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Save up to $300 on Macs, $30 on iPads with Ap...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
iOS and Android OS Targeted by Man-in-the-Mid...
Cloud services security provider Akamai Technologies, Inc. has released, through the company’s Prolexic Security Engineering & Research Team (PLXsert), a new cybersecurity threat advisory. The... Read more
KMI MIDI K-Board Great Gift for Amateur &...
The K-Board is a MIDI Nano keyboard for music creation for iPad, Android, And computers; the easiest way to make music with iPads & Android tablets, and Mac, Windows, or Linux computers. Ultra-... Read more

Jobs Board

Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.