The crop of personal computers found in the last decade of the 20th century was faster, more efficient, and more integrated than their predecessors. Clock speed and transistor counts are increasing rapidly, and the declining cost of memory and storage opens up new avenues for the personal computer to evolve from an expensive desktop accessory to a tool for multimedia and professional graphics design.
In 1991, the Intel i486TX was one of the hottest processors on the market — that is. The first one that requires a heatsink for everything, and the cooling fan is a good option for processors with higher clocks. But for Apple, the PowerPC configuration was still below the horizon, and the only choice for high-performance Macintosh computers in the early 90s was: the Motorola 68040 microprocessor.
What a beast. The ‘040’ is a significant improvement over the ‘030’ previously used by Apple. It had 1.2 million transistors, four times more than its predecessors. This processor increased the L1 cache size from eight to 4096 bytes, and was the first 68K processor to have an on-board floating-point unit (FBU). While not without its drawbacks, the ‘040 processor was an obvious candidate for Apple’s next-line premium workstations. This line will be known as the “Quadra” starting in late 1991 on the Quadro 700 and 900 models.
Although the Quadro 900 Cream de la Cream stands out on the ground in terms of overall performance and upgrade, its body size and price tag were a barrier to entry for some. Its desktop size brother, known as the Quadro 700, was quite enjoyable on both computers anyway. After all, the Quadro 700 was the only one featured in it Apple’s Quadra TV commercial And seemed important A specific Spielberg dinosaur-action blockbuster.
Both computers were marketed to professionals looking for a home or office-based workstation-class computer, suitable for scientific, business and design applications.
Fast forward to almost 30 years, and today the Quadro 700 is one of the most coveted vintage Macintosh computers. Part of this may be due to the supporting role next to Jeff Goldflm, but there are other reasons as well.
Instead of electrolysis, the 700 is one of the few vintage Apple computers that uses tantalum capacitors on the logic board. The latter capacitors inevitably leak electrolytic fluid, thus leaving traces in the electrical instability and logic group. Tantalum capacitors have no translucent electrolysis and are not susceptible to failure.
Quadro’s exclusive video RAM (VRAM) is included in the quality improvements of its peers, which are tightly integrated with the processor. Direct access to the frame buffer significantly improves video performance on the Quadro than other models such as the IIC. Improved memory expansion capability, supports up to 700 total 68MB RAM. This amount is not initially feasible as it will take several more months to develop SIMs that support this memory density. You can upgrade the VRAM to 2MB.
I know all this because I am a hopeless computer tinker who saw a Quadro 700 in early 2020. Unlike My road test at IIC for Ars in 2018, The Quadro 700 provided an opportunity to actually push the limits of desktop computing in the early 90s. Can this decade’s oldest worker have a candle for the 2020s multi-core behemoths? IIsi turned out to be surprisingly capable; What was the Quadro 700 with its top-shelf in the early 90s?
Project Quadra 2020 (or, How do I spend my time during an epidemic)
700 was sold to me at work, but otherwise “is.” There were some items that needed immediate attention, at least not the sliding drive. Sticky, hairy, dirty — these were all common signs of Apple sliding drives. Over the years, this design result has naturally allowed all kinds of dust and grime to build up. The complete overhaul of the drive will have to wait for another day, however, in the meantime I have a lot of spare drives to use.
Half-assembled, I made sure the Quadra was running well. Apple recommends that you turn off the case and do not run the 700 for more than 20 minutes, otherwise the 68040 processor will freeze if idle. Not the best design, but it works well once the case is closed.
Vintage Max usually requires a complete tear and capacitor replacement before they can be safely operated. The aforementioned electrolytic fluid and low performance capacitors can cause all kinds of electrical damage if not thoroughly cleaned and the capacitor is replaced. With dandelion capacitors on the logic board, electricity is the only real concern. A good dusting with compressed air expelled most large particles. Large capacitors within the power supply also need to be replaced eventually.
At this point, we had a normal amount of RAM and VRAM, a decent amount of hard drive and three free expansion slots. Until the renovations went on, everything went very smoothly. The quadra tip was in top shape because leaking capacitors or lithium batteries failed to cope. This will be enough to play a few rounds It.
However, I think we can do better.