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Apple TriMedia mystery (Capture?) Card
Posted: May 30th, 2003
(Last Updated Oct. 8th, 2007 with more reader comments)

Note: In July 2004 OWC had some of these cards for $5.00 each (now sold out)on their clearance items page but I've not found any drivers or software that uses the card yet (as far as the Tri-Media chip - one 8600 owner report below that said the Firewire ports seemed to work in OS 9.2.2. I welcome other feedback/tips/reports on this card.

(original article follows)
A reader sent photos on what appears to be an Apple TriMedia chip based capture card that was never released as a retail product. He asked I post this to see if anyone had any info on the card which is dated from 1997.

Hi Mike,
Here's one for the weird file-
That's (2) FW400, I think SCSI, (2) BNC, and what looks like a SVHS port but there are too many pins ( not serial).
Wondering if you can post a "what the hell is this" query with the pics linked from your site...
This is the only thing I can find anywhere near what this beast is:
(titled "Apple's answer to MMX" dated Jan. 16th, 1997 which talks about Apple using two TriMedia multimedia accelerator chips on a board w/FW ports.)

And it won't boot into 9 with the card installed (2 machines tried) and X shows 4 bridges on the PCI card, with no info available.
Weird, eh?
(name withheld by request)

Front card pix

The Tri-Media chip marking is: E-TM1S-1.1 C60765/9729.
I wonder if 9729 is perhaps a date code (week 29 of 1997).
One of the TI chips (343S1209) shows © Apple, 1997 but I've not searched the web for any info/data sheet on the chip part numbers. (One of the TI chips I suspect is a FW controller.) The Digital chip is marked: 21152-AA DC1040 (can't make out last letter), 21-44048-01 (the 8 may be a B, can't tell).

rear card pix

I'm guessing this was some sort of capture card but if any reader knows any history on it let me know. (*NOTE* See mails below before sending an email with duplicate info/links. Thanks.)

Reader Comments/Links: (most recent first, several mails had the same links so I didn't post mails that had duplicate info.)

(added 10/8/2007)
"After purchasing one of the Apple TriMedia prototype boards from eBay recently, I have set out to gather as much information as possible. While doing so I found your page and thought you might want to check out some of what I have uncovered and stuck on my site, even though your article hasn't been updated in some time. I've identified almost all the chips and memory sizes.
I've taken many detailed photos of my card and screenshots of my tests at the link below.
-"Peter B.

8600 Owner report on FW Ports Working

(added 7/16/2004)
Dear Mike, I bought one of the Apple Tri-Media video capture cards on a lark, (they're $5.00 now on the OWC clearance page) so to speak, realizing I might never be able to use it for anything, but you know what they say about curiosity...
I plugged it into my 8600/300 running OS 9.2.2 (OS9Helper v1.0.1-enabled) to see what would happen in view of a posted comment about not being able to boot a computer with OS 9 at all with the card installed.

Well, the computer did in fact sucessfully boot, and the card was recognized in Apple System Profiler but not identified as any particular kind of a card. ASP shows four bridges and details the card "name", "revision", and "vendor ID" for each bridge. (As an aside, do you now where I can find a list of vendor ID's? Does Apple have its own lists of vendor IDs which it uses, or is there an industry-wide list which is used?) (There's some chip ID info already on this page (and links to a FCC ID page in an older report below), but that's all I know about this card.)

Somewhat excited that the computer did boot up to the finder and I could get information on the card from ASP, I decided to get a little bolder and plugged in my Firewire CD-RW drive.
Yee-ha! I can at least read cd-rom disks with the firewire drive. I do not know about burning disks though. I haven't gotten that far yet. (Mind you, it's taken me several months just to get to the point of installing the card in the 8600 in the first place.) (I asked if he could test copying a lot of files from the FW drive to the Hard Drive to see if there were any problems.)

For the record, with the exception of my having modified the OS with OS9Helper in order to get it installed in the first place, the PowerMac 8600 is stock, having only extra memory and a SCSI interface card. I'm including the Apple System Profiler report file for this system along with a jpeg of the ASP details for the Trimedia card.

ASP report from 8600

Also, the Firewire CD-RW drive is a Fantom 52x24x52 CD-RW (I don't remember which model right off the top of my head) using a BenQ OEM CD-RW 5224P IDE drive. I haven't posted anything about this drive yet since I haven't yet figured out all the idiosyncracies between it and my Firewire interface card.

I'll keep you posted on all three matters (the third being the Firewire card) but I do have to be honest that progress will be slow.
Sincerely, Len C. "

If anyone else is actually using the firewire ports on this card OK, let me know (include system details/OS version used).

(reports from 2003 follow)

" Apple was working on this right before the NeXT merger, return of Jobs. I think it was codename south by southwest (SXSW) or something related to the southwest. The Trimedia chip was made by phillips and was a DSP processor. Apps had to be rewritten to take advantage of it. At the 1997 boston Macworld Expo, phillips trimedia team had a booth setup and I did a press interview with them. They wouldnÕt comment on any future products at the time, but I knew they were working on this because there had been a few leaks to MacWeek and MacWorld magazines.
(see below for links to those articles in other reader mails)
cm "

" You probably got tons of info about that Apple PCI Card with TriMedia VLIW DSP processors on it.

To just add a few things, that might not have been told. I kept en eye on it, and read Apples (at the time) PR why TriMedia, and DSP in general, would make multimedia better on Macs. It seemed like an deja-vu, much of this was covered when Apple released the Quadra 840AV with AT&T digital signal processor on it, and the Apple realtime architecture.
(Anyone has some deep details what happened to ARTA?)
Philips told that also PC manufacturers were going to add PCI card with TriMedia processors, but I never found any such in shipping system.

Later, when TriMedia was out of fashion, did I contact Philips. Was told that TriMedia had changed to being more of an chip for setopbox. TriMedia later was spun off, in a separate startup company. Interestingly, I was told that Apple had two project on using TriMedia processors, and that both were killed around 1997.

TriMedia survived, and is still with Philips. Its today very much an "media" processor, the platform is called Nexperia, and its used in SonyEricsson P800. I own one P800 ;-) EET has a good article about Nexperia and P800 here:
Philips own info on Nexperia (TriMedia) is here:
Orjan Larsson
Karlskoga Sweden "

" Iced now owned by media 100 had an SDI (bnc) capture card that was used to speed up aftereffects. The card used phillips tri-media chips. Iced was making one for apple's FCP when media100 bought the company, I think to stop this production.

Apple may have been helping ICED make the FCP card. Or Apple was thinking about making one themselves.

This looks like a more feature full and in one way hindered (the Iced card used 6 trimedia cpus) Iced card.
I wonder if you can get a hold of the iced drivers if it would boot in os9?
Adam "

" The Trimedia was broadly discussed in the Mac media from about late 1996 to early 1997. Here is the Google cache of a Macworld article about it. David Every's MacKido had an article discussing MMX which mentions both Trimedia and VMX which became Altivec (look for "MMX vs Trimedia")
Ellen Hancock mentions Trimedia getting a speedboost from TriMedia in an old MacWeek article (Link not working for me - says page was not archived-Mike)
Hope this helps.
cheers, Patrick "

" I believe that card was supposed to be used in the 8600 series of AV and perhaps the beige G3 Macs. You'll recall that they had a special AV port that never got used that was supposed to house a special set of Audio Video components. That's my guess.
-sondjata "

" Just a thought, sometimes the FCC ID code will yield some info if you search at their site: http://www.fcc.gov/oet/fccid/.
-Vic "

(added Feb. 10th, 2004)

" I used to work for ICE and for Media 100, so I'd like to clear up some small misconceptions:

There were two basic ICE cards, one with 4 Trimedia chips, and one with 8 Trimedia chips (the 8 sold the most). The ICE card was used to speed up some video special effects (which are still sold in the non-parallel versions by Media 100 as "Final Effects,") and was also used to power a special version of Media Cleaner Pro called the Power Suite. There was an additional add-on card for SDI video input. There were some different styles, and Media 100 gave the ICE card a small speed improvement via a skunkworks project.

This card looks like a potential competitor card for that one. The two Trimedia chips on here would best be used for graphics special effects, and the rest of the hardware looks like things that would support the various video inputs on the card.

The reason Apple dropped this, and why the ICE card eventually faded out, was that the Trimedias couldn't keep pace with the CPU. With Apple increasing CPU speed so rapidly, they quickly eclipsed the power of the board.

Good luck trying to find a driver for this one, even if you do, I'd bet it'd have a lot of rough edges and wouldn't run on the newer OS's.
-Owen "

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