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Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16
AGP Mac GPU with support for LESS than 256 Colors?

Hey guys. Quick question here, but first, here's a little update from my end of things: After a torturous Mac abstinence period since switching countries, and QEMU simply not fitting the bill, on top of it having destroyed whatever life was left of one of my 4 TB external HDDs (which is my own fault - there were signs of it going out earlier I didn't realize in time), I now finally could give myself the luxury of owning a real Mac-compatible computer again.

But perhaps the trauma was too great... because now I wound up with 2 MDDs, 2 Mac minis (1.25 and 1.5 + a 3rd Mac mini carcass/board) and the legendary PowerBook G4 DLSD 15", as if to make up for the abstinence. Tongue And a CRT monitor. (Important!) Then I hunt down some Ti4600 (the best Mac OS GPU), a 1.8GHz Sonnet CPU and an auxiliary PC for AGP GPU flashing. Currently, I'm slowly upgrading RAM and adding SSDs to things and potentially some PCI cards later on etc....

Now onto the actual topic. One considerable downside of using Mac minis for Mac OS was that the GPU is soldered onto the board, and it was capable of, at minimum, 256 color depth. No less.

The issue? Some games do not work with such "high" color depths, even if they would otherwise work with the Mac. Now, as an MDD owner (**ck Molex connectors, btw), I have the option of switching between different AGP graphics cards.

The question is, then: are there Mac AGP graphics cards capable of less than 256 color depth? Which cards? Perhaps some 3dfx stuff? (Note: I'm totally new to pre-PCIe cards.)

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adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

I think you may be out of luck here; by the time dedicated graphics cards came along, 256 colors was considered the bare minimum. You may need to get an older Mac that used VRAM and the CPU instead of a dedicated GPU in order to do 8, 4 or 2 bit color.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Oh man, that sucks. Sad Wish there was a "color depth emulator" running under 256 Colors.

Incidentally, would you happen to know what were some of the first AGP cards that were Mac-compatible (with/without flashing)?

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

First PCI video card was for https://everymac.com/systems/apple/powermac/specs/powermac_9500_200.html and was a custom card by ATi.

First AGP video card was for the Power Macintosh G3 (beige): ATi 3D Rage Pro. This is the one being used as a reference for the QEMU-PPC work being done for the beigeg3 hardware emulation.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Very insightful reply. Thank you!

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

The issue? Some games do not work with such "high" color depths, even if they would otherwise work with the Mac. Now, as an MDD owner (**ck Molex connectors, btw), I have the option of switching between different AGP graphics cards.

In the absence of owning compatible hardware run them in Basilisk II (or even SheepShaver with an Old World Rom) ? I know you mentioned QEMU but I don't think it's performance speed-wise is up to B2 or Sheep levels as yet and you do need older hardware even under emulation, for less than 256 colors.

Any program needing less than 256 colors isn't going to be newer than any production AGP card, so they will likely run under an emulation displaying 1 bit mono to 4 bit color.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

That's the fallback plan, yes. If all else fails, I'll have to emulate or otherwise virtualize a Mac within the Mac system. Since I'll be under the Mac OS environment (not X), my virtualization choice is mini vMac. (As for which version of it, we will see if I can learn how to compile it for OS 9, and if I will first have to identify which version of the build system was the last one to be compatible with OS 9.)

Also, were there PCI GPUs for Macs? (Other than the one that came with the PowerMac 9500/200, that is.) I wonder if other PCI GPUs, even non-Apple ones, were Mac-compatible. I'm more than willing to flash GPUs, if required.

Suddenly I feel like owning a 9500/200. Smile Gotta love its upgradeability and beauty. Boots into System 7.5.5 and beyond, too. I believe it probably can boot from a RAM Disk, as well (Old World ROM benefits?). Doesn't seem like they come by that often, though...

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

You can compile Mini vMac up until pretty recently for OS 9 -- it's entire reason for existing to begin with was to have a way to fiddle with MPW. In fact, you can compile FOR OS 9 using the ported MPW for macOS -- it'll let you compile 68k and PPC targets.

See my other comment regarding PCI GPUs for Macs -- they existed, but they were different from the x86 GPUs available under the same names. There's the original ATi for Macintosh, and an initial set of off-the-shelf GPU upgrades that fit the PCI slot.

I seem to recall *one* ATi PCI GPU that was a Windows version that could be re-flashed with the Mac firmware (on a PC of course) -- I think it may have been the original ATi Rage.