iMac Boards Use Forbidden Interface

When Apple developed the iMac, the company made it clear to hardware vendors that one component was off-limits: the mezzanine slot on the iMac motherboard. But the engineers at Micro Conversions (817/468-9922, http://www.microconversions.com ) and Formac ( http://www.formac.com ) didn't listen.

Both companies have developed expansion boards that plug into the forbidden slot–despite warnings from Apple that customers may void their iMac warranty if they use the products.

iMac Wizard

Micro Conversions has announced an iMac version of the Game Wizard, a 3-D-graphics accelerator designed for use with popular computer games. The $199 board features 3Dfx's Voodoo2 chip, which has become a standard for game acceleration in the PC market. It sports 8MB of RAM, compared with a maximum of 12MB for the PCI version. The card is tightly sandwiched between the iMac motherboard and chassis, and concerns about heat ventilation preclude additional memory, the company says.

Thin SCSI

Formac, a German company that designed the Vision 3D Pro graphics cards sold in the United States by Mactell, has introduced a $100 Ultra Wide SCSI card that plugs into the mezzanine slot, letting you use scanners, external drives, and other SCSI peripherals with your iMac. The card features a single external SCSI 3 connector; these are thinner than standard SCSI connectors and the cables can be hard to find, but they are available. Drives connected to the card can be used to boot up the iMac.

Formac will bundle the card with its Power RAID Control software, which lets you set up RAID levels 0 and 1 storage systems. Formac says the card will work with other drive-formatting packages as well. The card is scheduled to ship by the time you read this. The company also plans to offer a $149 mezzanine board that incorporates a SCSI connector, a TV tuner, and an S-Video in port.

No Piece of Cake

Installing a mezzanine card can be tricky: you have to open the iMac and remove five screws that hold the motherboard in place; the slot is on the flip side of the motherboard. To install the Game Wizard, you must also reroute the iMac's internal video cable to a connector on the board. Micro Conversions and Formac expect that most customers will opt for dealer installation.

The new multiflavored iMacs lack a mezzanine slot, so the cards will work only in the original Bondi blue model. However, Formac says it is developing an adapter that will essentially restore the slot to the newer iMacs, allowing use of the mezzanine cards.–Jeffy K. Milstead contributed to this report.

April 1999 page: 30

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