The latest in cool hardware comes from Micron, which has been working on a couple of video cards for the SE/30 (and this right after I get through talking about how there aren’t very many PDS cards for the SE/30). Micron has had several video cards for the SE/30 for some time now, and I’m using the low-end one in my SE/30 right now. It’s a modest $350 card, providing a 640 x 480 screen in 8-bit color, but it has always worked perfectly. If I wanted to be toasted by a large monitor, Micron also has a card that drives larger monitors.
Now however, Micron has a new 8-bit card for the SE/30 and is working on a 24-bit color card as well. "So what," you yawn, "there are a ton of 8-bit and 24-bit color cards around and even a couple for that obsolete old SE/30." Well, the big deal here is that both of the new cards will accept a $75 (or at least I think that’s what the price will be. I can’t find where I saw the price, but that’s what I remember) daughter card called the Gray-Scale 30 (GS30) that will provide 256 shades of gray on the internal SE/30 9" monitor. That’s pretty impressive! I’ve never seen any sort of hardware device which improved the internal monitors on compact Macs before, so Micron must have figured out some neat trick to get this to work.
There is a catch, of course. One video card can drive only one monitor. So if you buy the Color 30 (that’s the 8-bit card) for about $300 (the price has come down slightly) and add a GS30 to it, you can either have an 8-bit internal gray-scale display or an 8-bit color or gray-scale external display (at which point your internal monitor is solely black and white). You cannot have both internal gray-scale and external 8-bit color at the same time, although, as I said, the internal monitor is still active in black and white when you have an external monitor connected. Sorry for getting your hopes up, but I’m sure that if Micron could have figured it out how to provide internal gray-scale at the same time as external 8-bit color, they would have done it. Nevertheless, it’s easy enough to disconnect an external monitor to enable the internal gray-scale display. I know that sounds awkward, but since the SE/30 with an internal hard drive is quite transportable, you get a fast gray-scale system to tote around.
Micron is currently thinking of a way to allow current owners of the older SE/30 8-bit card to trade it in for a new Color 30 card (which could then have the GS 30 added to it). There are a few other reasons why you might want the new card, such as the fact that it can also drive 640 x 870 monitors like the Apple Portrait Display and that it comes with a "Virtual Video" cdev that provides a virtual desktop that can be larger than the physical monitor. I don’t know offhand how fast the Virtual Video cdev is – if it’s the same speed as Stepping Out II, I wouldn’t ever use it, but if it implements hardware panning, it would be great. Overall though, if you have an SE/30 with that one slot empty, I can’t think of a better way to fill it than with a Color 30 card augmented with a GS30 daughter board. You get 8-bit gray-scale immediately and the option to add a larger color monitor later. Not too shabby for that poor old SE/30.
Micron Technology — 800/642-7661 — 208/386-3800
Erik A. Johnson — [email protected]
Rick Larsen, Micron Rep — MTechSprt on AOL