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VESA Local Bus... anyone remember?

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Anyone here remember HOW AWESOME the upgrade from the standard 16-bit video cards to the 24-bit VESA Local Bus graphics cards? I wanted to add this to the Windows 3.1 thread, but didn't want to derail.

 

I can remember the first time I upgraded from a 16 bit graphics card, to actually using the VESA Local Bus slot on my mother board... how much of a huge difference it made for games like Descent....

 

 

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VESA Local was a weird form factor (is it true that it was designed as a way to use up leftover MCA edge connectors?), but the performance increase was impressive. I used them for a long time with my 486 machines, back when I had them. I think I still have some VESA Local motherboards, and one or two Diamond SpeedStar graphics cards new in the box.

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Can't remember if i did have a pc with vesa back in the day. I know they where expensive and soon replaced with pci bus. If i'm correct they where only used on 486 hardware. Currently i have a graphics card and a ide controller with vesa connectors. But cannot test them since i don't own a mb with vesa.

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I had a Diamond Stealth 64 DRAM VLB card back in 1994. I ran it on a motherboard with a 486DX-50 (not a 486DX2-50). This meant that the Diamond ran at a 50MHz bus speed, well past the standard 33MHz speed of the later PCI bus. It used the S3 Trio64 chipset, which is one of the best for DOS gaming. It performed like a champ; I can't recall any glitches or other problems. I don't know what happened to that motherboard, but I still have the Diamond. It resides in a new build with a 486DX2-50, so running at 25MHz, it's breathing a little easier in its old age.

 

Here's a recent thread on Vogons comparing the performance of VLB with PCI video: http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=46122

 

@jaybird3rd : if you ever want to sell those NIB Speedstars, PM me.

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After an ISA ET4000, I had a Tseng ET4000w32i (don't remember the brand), which was extremely fast back then and outperformed everything else.

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Yeah, I as an 'S3 Virge' I guess. I had a 486 board. The increase in speed compared to the VGA card I had was incredible.

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i had one on a 486 machine, most of the time it didnt make a bit of difference, but when it did oh man

 

VESA Local was a weird form factor (is it true that it was designed as a way to use up leftover MCA edge connectors?), but the performance increase was impressive. I used them for a long time with my 486 machines, back when I had them. I think I still have some VESA Local motherboards, and one or two Diamond SpeedStar graphics cards new in the box.

 

if you look carefully at them you have the standard 8 and 16 bit isa bus like normal and a funny brown connector all in line, that funny brown connector is actually identical to a PCI connector in later machines

Edited by Osgeld

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Prior to the VESA standard, there were proprietary local bus implementations. One of the better known was the Opti local bus. I think the video card for the Opti used a Tseng chipset. It would be fun to mess around with these someday.

 

http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?t=35707

 

 

Yes! I had a 386 motherboard back in the day that had one of these ports. It had to have been around 1994, and I was so excited because I got an AMD 386 DX-40 which was faster than the Intel DX-33 and cost $5 dollars less!

 

I never got one of those graphics cards, but I do very distinctly remember that it had two 16-Bit ISA slots, placed one behind the other. My motherboard only had one of those though.

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I had a couple systems with the Tseng ET4000w32i. Consumer Systems seemed to have VESA, and the Business Systems went with the EISA Bus...

 

MarkO

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I had a couple systems with the Tseng ET4000w32i. Consumer Systems seemed to have VESA, and the Business Systems went with the EISA Bus...

I absolutely loved Tseng back then. A Diamond Speedstar ET4000 was my first card. The RAM access was almost 100% of the theoretical maximum (even when overclocking the bus to 10 Mhz), where all competitors had less than 50%. With optimized code, it could even beat the first hardware accelerated S3 carts when filling rectangles.

 

I had a lot of fun back then writing my own BGI drivers tor Turbo Pascal/C and benchmarking them (with my own program :)) against other drivers and other hardware. :)

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I have a couple of VESA video cards on-hand which worked when retired. One is Trident, and I am not certain about the other. I will probably try to dump these soon, along with the one VESA-capable mobo I have, as I no longer, nor longer have reason to, dabble in such old pleasures. I have a '486 board with PCI and that is the one Windows 98 machine I will continue using for whatever purposes I dredge up. Until it dies :)

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Yes, I remember the 24-bit VESA bus, the earlier ISA and 16-bit Enhanced ISA and later the white 32-bit PCI bus; anyone else remember Microchannel architecture?

 

This bus came out before VESA and blew away even PCI (it had 64-bit throughput in burst mode) but IBM choose to keep it proprietary... somewhere a legacy WARP system is still sporting it no doubt :)

 

Jaybird3rd I don't think the MCA edge connectors were reused with VESA, just looked similar.

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I picked up a ps/2 tower back in the day that had mca. It had a mca hdd controller, mca graphics card. Ran os/2 warp 4.0 on it. It was a nice system. When i moved i gave them to a friend of mine (also had 2 desktop ps/2 systems.) Sadly, now i have place for them and would love to get them back, but he put the systems to the trash.

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I don't remember them because I wasn't around back then, but I do know how big of a pain in the butt they are now. I just love it when I boot up my 486 to see garbled text, then I gotta take it apart and reseat the thing.

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I went from a 8088XT with CGA graphics to a 486 DX2 50 with a VESA Super VGA card. Yes it was quite the upgrade.

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I remember not liking VESA. It did have a major shortfall: crosstalk interference in VESA slot if you have 2 or more. It was never designed properly for more than 1 card and when I had 2 different card: a 1MB VGA and a multi I/O card with everything including kitchen sink, nothing worked. Swapped the mobo, swapped the VGA card, swapped the IO card, had expert take a look and they gave up too. Ended up getting ISA I/O card, another ISA slot for IDE and floppy drive card and left the extra VESA slot unused.

 

Also you had to be a Hulk to be able to shove the whole card down and trying to push down the 12" long card through 3 slots (original 8 bit ISA + extended 16 bit ISA + VESA) without breaking something was hard. Especially if the motherboard is brand new,

 

Many years later I saw something about this problem and I'm like how many motherboards and cards were erroneously returned in perfect working order because of a little oversight in the design? I guess the consortium should have put in explicit ONE SLOT ONLY with they released the final design for motherboard makers to use.

 

PCI was released shortly after to dix the noisy issue and to make it take a lot less space.

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I guess I was fortunate, then. I never had a VESA video and multi-IO card cause a whole system to stop. I had a 486DX4-100 system which had this configuration, with ISA sound and network cards. Ran Windows 98SE flawlessly.

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I went from a 8088XT with CGA graphics to a 486 DX2 50 with a VESA Super VGA card. Yes it was quite the upgrade.

 

 

Holy crap, that's like going from a moped to a Mustang GT.

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I went from an apple II to a 486DX2/66 with SVGA lol, but it was my parents computer, and though I was allowed to play with it, pretty much at will I wanted my own to screw up myself so I got a ATT turbo XT with a CGA compatible monochome screen to beat up on heh

 

and even that was an entirely different level than the apple II

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Yours probably had the added filter circuit to deal with noisy VESA design.

 

I would call myself fortunate, then. I cannot who made it; I want to say it was DFI or Tyan.

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