Miscellaneous Ramblings

No Quartz Extreme Support for Pismo

Charles Moore - 2005.07.05 - Tip Jar

We received many letters in response to Enabling Quartz Extreme on Pismo in last Monday's mailbag column.

Pismo Too Old for Quartz Extreme

From Andrew Main


PCI Extreme does look interesting, but probably not for our "Pismo" PowerBooks. According to the documentation, "The hack PCI Extreme! performs will not allow older cards, such as the Rage II, Rage 128 Pro, Nexus, or any Voodoo or Nvidia cards to utilize Quartz Extreme. No Radeon, no acceleration. That is the bottom line."

The "Pismo" PB has the Rage 128 card. According to MacTracker, the earliest PowerBook with a Radeon card is the second-generation Power Mac G4 (Gigabit Ethernet), and the earliest iBook is the 16 VRAM (Spring 2002), which came at 600 & 700 MHz.

It looks like this hack might cause serious problems if it doesn't work, so I'd be very careful trying it out.

Andrew Main

Hi Andrew,

I guess the reliable ol' "if it seems to good to be true, it probably is" axiom applies in this instance.

The bottom line, as you say, would be Radeon support.

Dan has posted an update in the mailbag entry to that effect.


PCI Extreme! Stops Pismo on Startup

From Matt


I attempted to run this program on my Pismo under 10.4.1. Upon restart, the boot process stops at the blue screen. To resolve, I booted up in safe mode and disabled the patch. Just thought I'd give you a heads-up!

Matt Fiechtner

P.S. The time has finally come. I have put my tricked-out Pismo up for sale on eBay. :( Though, it might give you a good idea what the going market value is, should you decide to unload yours - god forbid! ;)

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the information. I was a bit apprehensive about something like that. I did download the software, but I had not tried it yet - and now will not.

I agree that the end is in sight for the Pismo as a front-line production machine. Performance with Tiger is tolerable but mediocre, and things will only go downhill from here, athough if the rumored video upgrade solution materializes, it would help stave off the inevitable for a while longer.

I will be hanging on to my Pismo even after my next system upgrade. it will just get shunted down the line to less demanding sorts of duty. Good luck selling yours.


Re: PCI Extreme! Stops Pismo on Startup

From Matt

Wow I never heard about the possible video upgrade - it's too late now for me I suppose, but could you pass along to me the details of the rumor?

Glad to hear you're sticking by your Pismo. I wrote in my eBay description that selling it almost felt like I was betraying an old friend. It's not that I am no longer happy with its performance, it's just that I will soon be needing a portable that can run iDVD - and it appears that it requires a 1 GHz G4 or greater to install/run.

Take care,

Hi Matt,

All I have on the video upgrade is second-hand. It sounds plausible, but I'll not say more until I have some confirmation.


Quartz Slow on Pismo

From Jim Strickland

PCI Extreme! does not work on Pismo. It causes the computer to hang at either login or startup, depending on your luck. It's not completely dead, since the screen still goes in and out of backlight power saving mode, but it's not usable.

If you've already tried this, you can boot your Pismo into safe mode by holding down the shift key after the tone. It will come up in safe mode, whereon you can use PCI Extreme! to switch Quartz Extreme back into AGP mode, reboot, and things return to normal. This is all under 10.4.1.

I do have a question for you. I've noticed Quartz is quite slow with the 10.4 upgrade, and I'm wondering if a G4 CPU upgrade will speed this up - I'm currently getting the double whammy of no Quartz Extreme and no Altivec.

Anyway, thanks.


Hi Jim,

My Pismo with the 550 MHz G4 upgrade is definitely slower running OS X 10.4.1 that it was with any of the Panther versions. In OS X 10.3 the support for Altivec seemed to cancel out the clock speed advantage that my 700 MHz G3 iBook enjoys along with barely support for Quartz Extreme thanks to its Radeon 7500 graphics and 16 MB of video RAM.

With Tiger, the equation is reversed. The iBook seems to run about as fast with Tiger as it did in OS X 10.3.9, and it is now faster than the upgraded Pismo.

So to answer your question, I don't think that a G4 processor upgrade is much of a solution for Tiger's video support demands as long as we're stuck with a RAGE 128 video card and 8 MB of VRAM.


Quartz Extreme Not Possible on Pismo

From Luca Rescigno

I can't see how it's possible to run Quartz Extreme on a Pismo. There's a very good technical reason for why it can't be done, right here:


The explanation is a ways down. Basically, QE treats the screen as a polygon and windows as textures on that polygon. The Rage series of video cards can't handle textures that aren't in a power-of-2 size, so unless the window is exactly 2048 or 4096 or 65,536 pixels in size (or some other power of two), the Rage video card won't actually be doing any work.

My guess is that somehow the user managed to get PCI Extreme! to trick OS X into thinking Quartz Extreme was enabled, thus displaying all the pretty QE-required eye candy. But it's simply not possible for the graphics card to accelerate said eye candy. Even though you're seeing it, I have to assume that the performance was pretty bad, because the CPU would have to do all the work.

- Luca Rescigno

Hi Luca,

You're absolutely right. It doesn't work. The reader who reported that his friend had had success on a G3 iBook had received faulty information.

We have amended the Mailbag entry .

Thanks for the information and link.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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