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Old 11 July 2010, 16:21   #1
brett71
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Question Graphics cards

A friend of mine has offered to sell me an old Picasso II graphics card he has. I've done a little research on it and on the Amiga Hardware Database, it says this about the card:

  • maps its memory directly into the Zorro II address space - speeds up manipulation of graphics memory but limits the amount of fast RAM to 6 MB
  • with 8 MB Zorro II fast RAM the board has to be run in segmented mode - lower performance
I have an Amiga 3000 with 2MB CHIP and 16MB Fast RAM. Does this mean I'm going to lose a chunk of my Fast RAM (anywhere from 2MB to 10MB) for the board to function?

Also, is this card able to do most of the same screenmodes as a PC can? The Database only lists these modes:

  • 1600×1280×8 interlace
  • 1152×864×16 interlace
  • 800×600×24 non-interlace

Is there a better graphics card out there than this one and how easily obtainable is it? For example, I've seen a GVP card listed on Software Hut's site. Would that one be a better choice than this one?
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Old 11 July 2010, 17:32   #2
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It leaves your ZorroIII memory space untouched. Those modes are the max modes of resp. screen depths - you always can create smaller ones and by default several are created during the install process. GVP is pretty similar - the better alternatives are ZorroIII cards like Piccolo SD64, Cybervision64, Cv64/3D, PicassoIV, Retina BLT Z3 - have a look:
http://amiga.resource.cx/exp/gfx
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Old 11 July 2010, 17:57   #3
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Are any of the Zorro III boards still available somewhere?
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Old 11 July 2010, 19:31   #4
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Quote:
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Are any of the Zorro III boards still available somewhere?
They come up quite a lot on Amibay
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Old 11 July 2010, 21:12   #5
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The ZII space being used is not much of an issue on a 3000. The PicassoII is old and not very fast but way better than ECS. It all comes down to price. I wouldn't pay over $100 U.S. for sure and would try to negotiate the price to more like $75 U.S. The best gfx board for the price on a 3000 is probably the CyberVision64. It's almost as fast as the Picasso4 and has passthrough for a 1 monitor solution. The CyberVision64/3D is also nice for the money but has no passthrough by default and it's a little slower at some things but does have slow hardware 3D support. These both work well in a 3000 in ZIII mode, are pretty reliable and can be found for around $150 U.S. The Spectrum is advertised as supporting ZIII also but it's still very slow and only has 2MB gfx memory. There were some reliability issues with earlier models too. It does have passthrough but I wouldn't recommend the board. If you don't have an ethernet card but want to get on the internet, then you might consider a Mediator PCI board expansion. The initial price is high but PCI boards are cheap. A Voodoo 3 card gives better 2D and 3D performance in most cases than any of the Amiga gfx cards.

Last edited by matthey; 12 July 2010 at 15:30.
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Old 12 July 2010, 12:11   #6
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"Most cases"?

Surely in any case.. Those Cirrus Logic chipsets are crap.
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Old 12 July 2010, 16:20   #7
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Just run in segmented mode and take the hit in performance. I did that for many years before getting a PIV
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Old 12 July 2010, 16:24   #8
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@Hewiston

Not all Z2 / Z3 cards use a Cirrus Logic chip set -

The CyberVision 64 has an S3 Trio and Cybervision 643D series has the S3 ViRGE respective chipsets -

the final series being the CyberVision PPC - which use the Permedia grahpics chipset - basically a voodoo2 with video array. - alas this is only available via the PPC local mini-pci bus (on the accelerator card)

@Brett

For a graphics adapter the Picasso 2 and Picasso 2+ are nice cards, - with the A3000 you dont need to worry about the Zorro2 space unless you are going to use 8MB Zorro 2 memory cards (*highly unlikely*)

The reason I personally like the Picasso 2 series (other than the feature of segmented mode for lesser machines) is infact the Pass-Through connector on the card - although this input is not scan doubled or flicker fixed it is auto switched by software - which is very nice!
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Old 12 July 2010, 16:26   #9
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Just run in segmented mode and take the hit in performance. I did that for many years before getting a PIV
why did you need to run the card in segmented mode alexh?
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Old 12 July 2010, 16:28   #10
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The PPC card sounds alright, I'm not convinced a Trio or ViRGE is worthwhile in this day and age.

I think you're much better off with a Mediator + Voodoo, which in most cases wouldn't cost a hell of a lot more.

Z: He must have had 8MB ZII Fast already.
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Old 12 July 2010, 16:34   #11
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@Hewiston

In terms of performance I couldn't agree more!

however I wonder what (if any) reall 3D is out there that

1. is written for the Amiga
2. directly supports a 3D chips set

to be fair there is very little to none, and with the advance of Warp3d - most things are OpenGL edited - tweaked and recompiled to use that - so with exception of PPC titles - I doubt theres anything dedicated to even the 060 cpu that could max the S 3ViGE - the bigest problem would be Z3 bandwidth

when I get my A2k and A4K boxes up I will be dabbling back into the code - I love OpenGL and it would be a joy to be devloping in this area again =D
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Old 12 July 2010, 16:50   #12
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why did you need to run the card in segmented mode alexh?
Pretty sure the 16Mbytes of 32-bit A3000 fast RAM is not allocated to the Zorro II space and so does not conflict with any Zorro II cards, so I must have had 8Mbytes of Zorro II fast RAM on some or other card.
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Old 12 July 2010, 16:55   #13
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I'm not aware of any software which accesses the hardware directly (as opposed to via Warp3D), but surely something like Quake or Wipeout would easily use 100% of the extremely limited 3D capabilities of the ViRGE.

I do not believe this chipset would be capable of handling anywhere near the ZIII bandwidth.
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Old 12 July 2010, 16:59   #14
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its a shame about the A3000 stuck on the expensive 1mx4 Zips, - I can understand the need for a cheaper Z2 memory card in that case - even a 8MB GVP Impact Series 2 SCSI controller is less than half the price of 16MB of ZIP these days - and it gives you another reasonable SCSI controller as well..

I wonder if it not just be an idea to make a Zip adpater - but instead of a 72Pin - a couple o four larger memory chips soldered to the board - keeping it low-profile...

hmmm -= kinda off topic... sorry Brett71
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Old 12 July 2010, 17:03   #15
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It'd be very easy to make such a PCB..

I don't suppose theres any way to utilise >16mb FAST without additional hardware?
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Old 12 July 2010, 17:07   #16
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Finding a cheaper source of Zip RAM chips through a group buy would be easier.

Allow people to pre-order so no one-person is stumping up the money. Set a timescale and buy say 100+ chips from a reclaimation company in China. Factor in some overhead for dead chips and you'll get the price well below anything you can make.

Quote:
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I don't suppose theres any way to utilise >16mb FAST without additional hardware?
Of course not. But there is of course the (relatively) expensive ZorRAM at ~£1/Mbyte including postage.
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Old 12 July 2010, 17:10   #17
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@Hewitson

you may have point sir - wiki says

Quote:
While revolutionary in delivering an affordable 3D accelerator with good quality 2D performance, the ViRGE earned the unofficial title as the world's first "graphics decelerator" due to its abysmal 3D performance. While the ViRGE could render basic 3D scenes faster than host-CPU based software rendering, turning on features such as bilinear filtering and Z-depth fogging caused the card to slow down to the point where software-rendering would outrun the ViRGE. To this extent, the practical feature set of the ViRGE range was extremely limited. Ironically, 3D-rendering on the expensive VRAM based ViRGE/VX (988) was even slower than the ViRGE/325 due to the VX's slower core and memory clock rates.

The ViRGE was also unpopular for its lack of OpenGL support, limiting visual quality and performance with the extremely popular Quake engine.
Now looking at this from a CPU persepctive - there most likely looking at a Pentium 133 era of PC computing, this - CPU - for most its faults is much faster (in interger calc terms) than an 060 at 66mhz.

I wonder if a stock 060 (irrespective of bus bandwidth) could max or really match the cards optimum performance?

[SD3D - 3D feature(s)]
3D texture mapping
  • Perspective correction, flat and Gouraud shading
  • Bilinear and trilinear texture filtering, MIP Mapping, alpha blending, and video texture mapping
  • Depth cueing and fogging, Z-buffering

I will say one thing..... its going to be very interesting to find out -

I have an A1200 060@80 that needs seting up with its PCI and Voodoo5500PCI
An A4000 with CSMk2 060@50 and CV64 3D/Mk2
an A2000 with 040@33 and Picasso2 +

I admit I am looking forward to the journey!
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Old 12 July 2010, 17:26   #18
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I'm sure an 060 could easily reach full potential of this card, as the wiki states, its 3D capabilities are nothing short of atrocious. I thought it was funny how they called it a graphics decelerator though.

alexh: Relatively? :P
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Old 12 July 2010, 17:33   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zetr0 View Post
@Hewiston

In terms of performance I couldn't agree more!

however I wonder what (if any) reall 3D is out there that

1. is written for the Amiga
2. directly supports a 3D chips set
Only software that I rememeber that might support virge 3d directly is a Port of Adescent for virge. This was before warp3d existed.
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Old 12 July 2010, 17:35   #20
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alexh: Relatively? :P
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/relatively

For me, £99 it just doesn't hit the sweet spot (price wise) for me.

But it is still much better than the stoopid prices that DKB3128 boards were selling on eBay prior to the ZorRAM launch.
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