G4 for FACSCalibur

D. Robert Sutherland rob.sutherland at utoronto.ca
Fri Sep 22 12:55:50 EST 2000

There are several cheaper ways to upgrade non-G3, Power PC-based CPUs on
your FACStation, without buying a new G4 or dual processor G4.

As pointed out by other correspondents, if you buy a G4, you will
probably have to deal with a variety of 'connectivity issues' such as
the need for USB connectable printers/adaptors, dongles and any other
SCSI-based devices currently in use such as Zip drives etc.  Although
these issues can be accommodated (at a cost) as Matthias et al have
suggested, dealing with such problems has caused major headaches for a
number of users tempted to upgrade to G4s.  Furthermore, to my knowledge
at least, BD have not upgraded Cellquest to take advantage of the
Altivec processing capability of the G4 chip.  Therefore, Cellquest will
not run significantly faster on a G4, than on a G3 rated at the same
processor clock speed.  Similarly, Cellquest will not run any faster on
a dual processor G4 running OS 9.x.  While the upcoming Mac OSX will
allow many more applications to take advantage of the dual G4s, a major
re-work of Cellquest will most likely be required for OSX
compatibility.  Are BD even planning such an upgrade, and if so, when?

Instead, for about US$200.00, you can purchase a G3 upgrade card
(running at about 400Mz with a 1meg backside L2 cache) for your
7300/7500/7600 Power PC Mac and make a huge gain in performance.  Such
cards are incredibly easy to install by swapping out the old PPC604e
card found in all PCI-based Macs.  Even faster upgrades are available
and you can even get G4 upgrade cards for these Macs if you really want
one.  However, unless you are planning to use your FACStation computer
to run Altivec enhanced applications such as the recent version of Adobe
Photoshop et al, I see little reason to go through all the connectivity
hassles (and cost) for little if any gain.

This may not be everyone's idea of fun, but I recently purchased as
separate items, a 500Mz ZIF (the 'processor') and a 'PCI Carrier card'.
(You can also get them as a single card with the ZIF already 'soldered'
into the card).  I removed the 266 ZIF from the 'Beige' G3 in my office
and replaced it with the 500Mz ZIF.  I then installed the 266Mz ZIF into
the carrier card and installed it into a 7300 running our dear old
FACScan.  The 200Mz PPC 604e card that I removed from the 7300 was then
installed in a Calibur running off a 7600 containing an even older 120Mz
PPC 604.  Thus, we managed to upgrade 3 Macs for the price of one, we
have not had to deal with connectivity issues with any of them,  and all
we have left over is one old PPC 604 card to use as a door stop.

My 2c worth.

Rob Sutherland
University Health Network
University of Toronto

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