Sonnet Presto and QuadDoubler Accelerators
General: Problem with Presto 040 and browsers
There are some fairly consistent reports of the Sonnet Presto 040 having severe problems with browsers over PPP connections.
Jon Dockery writes:
Just a quick update for those of you who've been following the saga of Presto 040 accelerators and their intense dislike of browsers. I've finally heard from a gentleman in the UK who is happily using his Presto on the web with no problems at all. His secret? He's using America On Line. Apparently, the Presto has no software conflicts at all with AOL v3.0i (UK version). While I'm no fan of AOL, this is in stark contrast to the Presto's problems with Netscape and Explorer (both requiring a rather clumsy Extension Manager work around), and may indicate that Sonnet Technologies has been troubleshooting the Presto solely against AOL. It may also reflect a difference in connection routines, as AOL uses its own AOL Link Control Panel rather than the MacPPP. For the record, the "trouble-free" rig is as follows:
Mac Color Classic with 10 megs of RAM, running System 7.1.3, a SupraFax 14.4LC modem, and the Presto 040 with driver version 3.1. Software includes AOL 3.0i, AOL Link v1.1b9, MacTCP v2.0.6, QuickTime 2.5, Ram Doubler 2.0.1, and various and sundry extensions (ZIP driver, SuperClock, etc.).
If you have any questions about his system please feel free to contact him directly at skyade (at) aol (dot) com. His name is Adrian.
As for those of us intent on sticking to conventional browsers, I can humbly report that new System-8.0 compatible driver INIT for the Presto (v3.1) didn't solve much in terms of the browser problem. While it is marginally more stable, it still eventually freezes the browser if there are other Extensions & Control Panels loaded, and ultimately requires the Extension Manager work around I've described previously. Also, v3.1 introduced a few new incompatibilities unseen in v2.1, such as the total inability to access Eudora Lite (v1.5.3) without getting a "Bus Error" warning. I would recommend that Netscape & Explorer users stay with v2.1 (which also spares you the irritating Sonnet splash screen on startup).
Dan Knight reports:
The Mac IIci is a venerable old computer, but excruciatingly slow at some tasks. In particular, FileMaker Pro is roughly 3x faster on a Centris, Quadra, or Power Mac, whether we open, sort, or print. Using this as justification, I just installed two Presto 040 accelerators (40 MHz 68040 with 128k L2 cache).
Installation is incredibly easy and quick. Make sure the computer's off, pop the lid, remove the cache card (if present), slide in the accelerator, put the lid back, boot the computer (extensions off speeds this up), insert software disk, drag software to System Folder, reboot. Suddenly a poky old IIci is acting like a Quadra.
So far, no sign of incompatibilities. Standard apps include Eudora Lite, DarkSide of the Mac, FileMaker Pro, and Microsoft Word 5.1a. I'm very impressed! I'll update if we run into any problems down the road.
See our benchmark results.
Newhouse (email@example.com) writes:
There are five Macs in the house - anywhere from an SE for the third grader, SE/30 for the high schooler, IIsi for the sophomore in college, IIci for the wife (who is working on her masters), and a spare SE/30 for when one of the Macs needs work. Paying tuition for the high schooler, college soph, and wife precludes the buying of newer Macs for the near future.
Accelerators are the affordable alternative. Photoshop and Quark require speed, and the internet can always use a few extra megahertz. I bought the Prestos and didn't have a problem installing them, hardware or software (I never did have any problems installing anything on a Mac).
After installing the card on the IIci, I noticed that every time I tried to use the floppy drive, the computer would crash. This was happening with the Prestos in other installations. I got in touch with Sonnet via email and got a reply right away. I downloaded the new Presto extension and have been using it since then. The only thing I notice is that the computer slows down noticeably when using the floppy drive now. (I think the new Presto software shuts the accelerator off when using the floppy. This is no problem though since the only use the floppy gets is when I need to save a document or two to transfer to another computer. All my backing up is done with a zip drive, which I am using as a substitute floppy.)
I have had no compatibility problems with the accelerator. I use WordPerfect 3.5, ClarisWorks 4.0, Photoshop 4, Quark 3, Netscape 3, and a few other pieces of software with no problems. The accelerator sure did speed things up. It allowed a few more years of life for these computers. I am going to accelerate the SE/30s next. One of them with accelerator and ethernet piggybacked on the PDS slot and the other with accelerator and video board. Good investment in my situation.
Presto in Mac LC, LC II, Color Classic
Michael Roeder reports:
I bought my Macintosh Centris 610 way back in 1993. It's been a reliable and fun replacement for my Mac Plus. Because I have some way cool computers at work, I haven't had the need to buy a new Mac of my own.
The performance of my SuperMac Video Spigot* was a little poky, however. Also, the Centris comes with a 68LC040, which means it doesn't have the Floating Point Unit (FPU). Thus certain cool software, such as Macromedia's Extreme 3D won't work. I tried a shareware FPU emulator, but it didn't work with all software, and when it did work it was slow.
Replacing the CPU with a full 68040 was one option. Apple's Developer Notes state that the only difference between the Centris 610 and the Quadra 610 is the clock speed; both have the FPU support code in ROM. (In fact, some Quadra 610s came with 68LC040.) A 68040 would cost $200. Sonnet offers two products for the Centris 610, a Quad Doubler with 68LC040 for $200 and one with 68040 for $300. I decided to buy the accelerated 68040 with FPU.
The Sonnet Quad Doubler is a circuit board about 2" wide by 4" long. One half has a zillion pins on the bottom to match the pins on the bottom of a 68040. The other half has 68040 with a gnarly heat sink on top. There is additional circuitry to make the 68040 run at twice the clock speed of the Centris or Quadra it's plugged into. (There are two different models. The BST-40F, for the Centris 610, costs $300; the BST-50FA, for the Quadra 610, costs $400. Sonnet says that the BST-40F will not work reliably in a Quadra 610.)
Installation is pretty simple. The instructions that come with the Quad Doubler are clear and well illustrated. You open the case and remove the original CPU. The kit comes with a little tool you use to gently pry up the CPU. Then you plug the Quad Doubler into the CPU socket. If you have a NuBus card plugged into your Centris, you have to first remove it to expose the CPU -- but surprisingly enough, there is room for it to go back, even with the big heat sink on the Quad Doubler. Put the case back on, plug everything back in, and you're in business.
There is no software to install. Just as the instructions promised, my Centris booted right up without any problems. I wanted to see how fast this new 40 MHz CPU really ran, so I tried some performance tests I had made with Macromedia Director. I didn't expect to see an actual doubling of performance - after all, the rest of my computer was still running at the same clock speed as before. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that animations were running about 56% faster than before, enough to boost performance from somewhat canine to snappy. And with the full 68040, those apps that needed the FPU now run without a hitch. (If you have a software FPU emulator, you should disable it before you install the Quad Doubler.)
An added benefit is that my Video Spigot now performs that much better, too. At 20 MHz, it had always created strange diagonal flashing artifacts in video it was capturing, and video was jerky. But with Quad Doubler the video quality is up to acceptable levels. (You won't be able to capture full-speed 640 x 480 video, but the video you do capture will look better than before.)
I have no data about Sonnet's technical support because I never needed to call them: the Quad Doubler simply works.
The Sonnet Quad Doubler does not provide the performance boost of a Power PC upgrade - but neither does it cost that much. For $300, it's probably the best performance upgrade you can buy for your Centris. (The Quad Doubler for the Quadra costs $400. Its relative increase in performance over the stock Quadra 610 may not be as impressive, but it would probably still be worthwhile.)
*The Video Spigot NuBus card is about three inches too long to fit in the Centris/Quadra 610. You can make room, however. You have to cut out the shelf that holds the hard drive and rig new brackets so it's lower and further forward. It's a scary proposition, but if you have basic carpentry skills, it should work fine.
Michael Roeder is a Software Quality Assurance Engineer at Macromedia. In his spare time he is an elf who plays hockey, rides a motorcycle, and watches Babylon 5.
personal website: http://members.aol.com/timberwoof
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