Orchid Technology

Orchid was a graphics card and sound card manufacturer for the IBM PC and its compatibles, though they began with the design and production of memory expansion and CPU upgrade boards.

Popular products from Orchid include the RamQuest series of intelligent memory expansion cards, and the Tiny Turbo 286 and Twin Turbo CPU upgrade boards.

It was acquired by Micronics, the motherboard manufacturer in August 1994.

 

Turbo EGA

Launched: 1986
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Memory: ?
FCC ID:
Known BIOS Versions:
Known Board Revisions:

 

Designer VGA

Launched: 1989
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Memory: ?
FCC ID:
Known BIOS Versions:
Known Board Revisions:
Price: $349 (Jan '89)

Pro Designer II / IIs

Launched: 1991
Bus: ISA 16-bit.
Memory: 1 MB
FCC ID: DDS7EF0191-91-PRO
Known BIOS Versions: 1.1, 3.3, 5.0
Known Board Revisions: 1A, 1C, 2/08, 2/810
Price: $184 (PDIIs, Aug '91), $304 (PDII, Aug '91), $219 (PDIIs, Feb '92)

The ProDesigner IIs provides up to 32768 colours with its 1 MB video RAM and if the Sierra HiColor RAMDAC is installed, maximum resolution are this colour depth is 1024 x 768.

"PROS: Fast AutoCAD performance
CONS: Expensive

The most outstanding feature of the Orchid ProDesigner II is speed—it tied for first place in the key AutoCAD tests. Other than that, the board has an average set of features and a fairly high $304 street price.

Like most boards in this roundup, the ProDesigner II offers flicker-free 72 Hz performance at all resolutions except 1024 by 768. That may limit your options, but on today's 14-inch multiscans, most people won't experiment beyond 800 by 600 anyway.

The board isn't quite plug and play, but unless a network board is present, you probably won't have to mess with the board's handful of jumpers. Driver installation involves issuing commands from the DOS prompt instead of simply choosing menu options.

Thanks to its speedy performance, AutoCAD users may want to consider this board seriously. In addition, by the time you read this, Orchid will be shipping a new version of the ProDesigner II (the IIs) that will list for $120 less and purportedly will offer the same speed, 70-Hz refresh at 1024 by 768, and a special upgrade that will support over 32,000 colors under Windows. These new features should make the Pro-Designer IIs one of the hottest Super VGA boards around."
     PC World, August 1991

 

It is one of those rare cards that will work in either an 8-bit or 16-bit ISA or EISA slot, with auto-detection to switch to 8 or 16-bit data transfer speeds.

User Manual
Driver Disk (1 x 5.25" floppy)

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Fahrenheit

Launched: 1991
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Memory: 1 MB
Price: $329 (Jun '92)

User Manual

Fahrenheit VA and VA/VLB

Launched: 1993
Chipset: S3 86C801
Bus: 16-bit ISA and VESA Local Bus
Memory: 1 MB
Price: $299 (Apr 1993)

The Fahrenheit VA was an interesting card that also provided a $50 audio option. This included a mono microphone input, stereo speaker outputs, and Orchid's Voice Notes utility to help turn your pc into a multimedia system.

It's important to note that the audio side of this card *does not* provide Ad Lib or Sound Blaster compatibility, nor does its "multimedia" orientation provide the card with any CD-ROM interface.

"The leader of the pack is the Orchid Fahrenheit VA, even though it does not accelerate raster operations or image transfers, nor does it do font caching. Priced at $299 with 1MB of RAM (no street discount), it achieves 13.40 megapixels-per-second at 800-by-600 and 12.61 at 1,024-by-768 in 256-color mode on our Graphics Winmark tests, better than many more-costly boards. At 16 colors, it racked up 10.20 and 10.16 megapixels-per-second in these resolutions, respectively.

The 86C801C-based $299 Orchid Fahrenheit VA, which comes with an audio option, is a little more expensive than other boards in its class. But with 1MB of RAM and Orchid's stable HyperDriver for Windows, this Editor's Choice winner delivered excellent Graphics Winmark scores in 256-color Super VGA and 1,024-by-768 modes, and it speedily handled our AutoCAD tests, unmarred by remnant pixels or an inability to clear the screen properly - something that plagued a couple of its competitors."
     
PC Magazine, April 1993

 

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Fahrenheit 1280

Launched: 1991
Chipset: S3 911/924 Pre&Vision (86C911) "Carrera"
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Memory: 512 KB or 1 MB VRAM
FCC ID: DDS7EF0691-91-ETH
Known BIOS Versions: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 3.0
Known Board Revisions: 2/A4, 2/B2, 2/B3, 2/B4
Price: $449/$499 (512 KB/1 MB version), $319 (1280s HiColor, Feb '92), $299 (Mar '92)

The Fahrenheit 1280 supports resolutions up to 1280 x 1024 in 16 colours, 1024 x 768 in 256 colours, or 640 x 480 in 32,768 colours. The 1280 x 1024 resolution runs interlaced at 48 Hz, but 1024 x 768 can run non-interlaced at 70 Hz.

"At a street price of $357, Orchid's Fahrenheit 1280 compares very favorably to other boards, offering flicker-free screens, good performance, and an excellent warranty.

The Fahrenheit 1280 performed about average for an S3 card. It ran Excel and Word for Windows nearly 3 times faster than super VGA. PowerPoint ran at one-third the speed of super VGA, as usual.

The Fahrenheit 1280 operates flicker free except at its interlaced 1280 by 1024 resolution, and you get 32,768 screen colors at no extra cost. The board comes with drivers for numerous DOS programs, too. The warranty lasts four years, and technical support is super, if you don't mind paying for the telephone call. All told, the Fahrenheit 1280's low price and significant perks make it a good deal."
     PC World, March 1992

 

Compared to its competition at the time (Genoa WindowsVGA, STB Wind/X Ultra, and Diamond Stealth VRAM), it was a solid performer.

The similar Fahrenheit 1280 Plus is shown below. This card has FCC ID DDS7EF892-32-FGA:

Celsius/VLB

Launched: 1993
Bus: VESA Local Bus
Memory: 1 MB VRAM (upgradable to 2 MB)
Price: $399 (Oct 1993)

Based on IIT's AGX015 graphics processor.

Supports up to 90 Hz flicker-free refresh rates, 16.7 million colours, and resolutions up to 1280 x 1024 (in 16 colours non-interlaced).

"Orchid Technology is shipping a new VESA local-bus Windows accelerator and a 16-bit digital signal processor (DSP) sound card. The Celsius/VLB, which has 1MB of video RAM, supports color dithering, polygon fill with reference pattern, polygon window mask, and image stretching and scaling. It can be upgraded to 2 MB of VRAM for 256 colors at 1,280-by-1,024 noninterlaced. It provides 16.8 million colors and a 90-Hz refresh rate."     
PC Magazine, October 1993

 

User Manual
Driver Disk v1.3 (1 x 1.2MB floppy)

Kelvin 64 / EZ

Launched: 1994
Chipset: Alliance ProMotion 3210 or ProMotion 6410?
Bus: ISA, VLB, or PCI
Memory: 1 MB (upgradable) or 2 MB DRAM
Price: ?
FCC ID: DDS7EF1093-93-KVL (VLB), DDS7EFKELVI64-PCI (PCI)
Known BIOS Versions: 1.1, 1.10b
Known Board Revisions: 1C

The Kelvin EZ is a 32-bit version of Kelvin, supporting resolutions up to 1280 x 1024 and colours up to 16.8 million. Kelvin 64 was the first affordable 64-bit graphics accelerator available for ISA, VESA Local Bus and PCI.

The Kelvin 64 Video uses the Alliance ProMotion-3210 or ProMotion-6410. The 3210 is the 32-bit version of the 6410 and was the first video chipset to integrate video acceleration with PC graphics. The 6410 is the 64-bit version; a 2D Windows/VGA/motion video accelerator chipset. With a core clock that runs at up to 170 MHz, depending on the external DAC that accompanies it. With the full 2 MB of EDO or FPM DRAM memory it supports a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200.

User Manual

Fahrenheit ProVideo 64

Launched: 1994
Chipset: S3 86C968
Bus: PCI or VESA Local Bus
Memory: 2MB (upgradable) or 4MB VRAM
FCC ID: DDS7EFFP64964-VLB
Known BIOS Versions: 1.0
Known Board Revisions:
Price: ?

Maximum resolution is 1600 x 1200 and supports refresh rates up to 120 Hz.
Has hardware digital video scaling capabilities, colour space conversion and dithering.

Fahrenheit 64

Launched: 1995
Chipset: S3 86C716
Bus: ISA 16-bit or PCI
Memory: 1 MB (upgradable) or 2 MB DRAM.
Price: ?

Displays 16.8 million colours at a resolution of 800 x 600 (2 MB cards only). Highest resolution is 1280 x 1024. Refresh rates up to 75 Hz.

User Manual

Righteous 3D

Launched: 1995
Chipset: S3 86C716
Bus: ISA 16-bit or PCI
Memory: 1 MB (upgradable) or 2 MB DRAM.
FCC ID:DDS7EFF06964M3DFX
Price: ?

The Righteous 3D was a licenced build of the 3dfx Voodoo 3D graphics accelerator.

Fahrenheit Pro64

Launched: 1995
Chipset: ?
Bus: PCI or VLB.
Memory: 4 MB VRAM.
Price: ?

Maximum resolution is 1280 x 1024. Supports high speed horizontal and vertical acceleration in all display modes.

Displays 16.8 million colours at a resolution of 1024 x 768. Refresh rates up to 120 Hz.

User Manual

Kelvin Video64

Launched: 1995/1996
Chipset: Alliance Semiconductor ProMotion 6410
Bus: PCI
Memory: 1 MB (upgradable) or 2 MB DRAM
FCC ID: JYBPCI3210D
Known BIOS Versions: 3.15
Known Board Revisions: D
Price: £294 (2MB, Sep '95)

Display resolution up to 1600 x 1200, colour depth up to 16.7 million colours.

I'm not sure if the Alliance ProMotion 641 is different from the 6410, but the 641 was used on the Alaris Matinee and Focus OptiView Pro graphics cards.

User Manual

Kelvin MPEG

Launched: 1995/1996
Chipset:
Bus: PCI
Memory: 1 MB (upgradable) or 2 MB DRAM
Price: ?

Video playback up to 1280 x 1024 at 30 frames per second in 24-bit colour.

User Manual

Fahrenheit Video 3D

Launched: 1996
Bus: PCI
Memory: 2 MB EDO DRAM.
Price: ?

3D graphics accelerator features Bi-Linear and Tri-Linear filtering, MIP mapping and Gouraud shading, perspective correction, video texture mapping, depth cueing and fogging, alpha blending and Z-buffering.

Maximum display resolution is 1600 x 1200.

User Manual

 

Righteous 3D II

Launched: 1998
Chipset: 3dfx Voodoo 2
Bus: PCI
Memory: 12 MB
FCC ID:
Price: ?

The Righteous 3D II was a licenced build of the 3dfx Voodoo II 3D graphics accelerator. This got a second texture unit over the original Righteous 3D (Voodoo Graphics), and video memory was increased to 12 MB.

Sound Cards

 

Sound Producer


FM synthesizer: Yamaha YM3812-F
Audio codec: Aztech AZTSB0792-U07
Interface: 8-bit ISA
Model No.: SP-7524
FCC ID: I38-SGBX21
Price when New: £40

The Orchid Sound Producer is an officially licenced version of the Aztech Sound Galaxy BX II, so the Aztech drivers should work just fine with this card.

Supports Ad Lib and Sound Blaster.

 

 

Sound Producer Pro

Launched: 1992
FM Synthesizer: Yamaha YMF262-M (OPL3) or LS-212.
Chipset: Aztech AZTSSPT0592-U01 (1st generation card).
DAC: Yamaha YAC512
Price when New: ?

Supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster Pro II, Disney Sound Source and Covox Speech Thing.
20-voice stereo FM synthesizer.
Recording sampling rate is 4 KHz to 44.1 KHz (mono) or 4 KHz to 22.05 KHz (stereo)
Built-in ISA CD-ROM drive interface. Optional SCSI CD-ROM interface.
Game port has MIDI interface.
4W amplifier.

The Orchid Sound Producer Pro is a rebadged Aztech Sound Galaxy NX Pro.

User Manual

GameWave

FM synthesizer: ?
Audio codec: ?
Price when New: $110

Rich Heimlich said this of the GameWave: "A less expensive and less impressive version of the SoundWave 32.  In this case, that's not a very good thing.". It scored 2 out of 10 for digital quality and 1 out of 10 for music quality.

SoundDrive 16

Launched: 1994
FM synthesizer: ?
Audio codec: ?
Price when New: -

Supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster, and Microsoft Windows Sound System.

User Manual

GameWave 32

Launched: 1994
FM synthesizer: ?
Audio codec: ?
DSP: Analog Devices ADSP2115.
Price when New: ?

Supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster, General MIDI, Roland MPU-401 interface and Roland MT-32.

GameWave 32 has either 512 KB or 1 MB ROM for samples onboard. These samples, known as "Prosonus", are compressed, so it is likely with the 512 KB ROM version you get 1 MB of compressed samples, and with the 1MB ROM version you get 2 MB of compressed samples. ROMs can be optionally upgraded to the 2 MB InVision ones (see SoundWave32 with InVision further down for details).

Sony and Mitsumi CD-ROM interfaces.

User Manual

GameWave 32 Plus

Launched: 1994
FM synthesizer: ?
Audio codec: ?
DSP: ?
Price when New: ?

The GameWave 32 Plus cards were identical to GameWave 32, but shipped with the InnoVision (or InVision) ROMs, which were an optional extra for the original SoundWave 32 card.

User Manual

SoundWave 32

Launched: 1994
FM synthesizer: OPL2 FM emulation
Audio codec: Analog Devices AD1848KP
DSP: Analog Devices ADSP2115
Price: $299 (Oct 1993), $249 (1994)
FCC ID: DDS7EF0393-03-SWA
Known Board Revisions: 835-0139-1/A, 835-0139-1/B, 835-0139-1/C

Supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster Pro, Microsoft Sound System, General MIDI, Roland MPU-401 interface and Roland MT-32.

SoundWave 32 has either 512 KB or 1 MB ROM of samples onboard. These samples, known as "Prosonus", are compressed, so it is likely with the 512 KB ROM version you get 1 MB of compressed samples, and with the 1MB ROM version you get 2 MB of compressed samples.

Both the Doom and Descent games pages have sample OPL4 audio from this card.

One interesting thing about the SW32 is that you can load up different DSP firmwares for General MIDI mode and Roland MT-32 mode, which tell us that there is also some kind of LA Synthesis that is emulated. The usual MT-32 emulation does not feature this.

"Also new from Orchid is the SoundWave 32, which supports a variety of sound and multimedia formats including AdLib, SoundBlaster, Windows Sound System, and general MIDI. It's based on the Analog Devices ADSP2115 DSP, which processes over 20 million instructions per second."     
PC Magazine, October 1993

 

The chip at the bottom, usually covered with a silver Orchid sticker is an Analog Devices Echo ESC614.

There are 3 known board revisions, with the 'A' revision not having a jumper to tell the board if a 512 KB or 1 MB patchset is installed (assume it only supported the former). The 'B' and 'C' revisions added this jumper. Also differences in the ROMs themselves, with 820-, 821-, and 810- prefixes. The 820 and 821 both seem to only be on 'A' revision board, while the 810 ROMs are only on the 'B' and 'C' revision boards.

Other sound cards that are very similar to the SW32 include the Beethoven ADSP-16 (no wavetable) / ADSP-16 Wave (with wavetable chips), Cardinal MPC700/DSP16, and the Wearnes Peripherals MML9050 (PA-WP9050-B) - these both use a combination of the Analog Device AD1848KP, Analog Devices Echo ESC614 and Analog Devices ADSP-2115.

Driver Disks - Contains v1.3, v1.4 and v2.1 driver versions - only difference v1.x and v2.x is in the .LD DSP microcode files
User Manual

Here is a dump of the two standard 512 KB Prosonus ROMs: ROM1, ROM2

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SoundWave 32 withInVision / InnoVision

Launched: 1994
FM synthesizer: OPL2 FM emulation
Audio codec: Analog Devices AD1848KP
DSP: Analog Devices ADSP2115
Price: $289 (1994)
FCC ID: DDS7EF0393-03-SWA

This is a SoundWave 32 but with different ROMs (so a different patchset to the Orchid standard SW32 card) from InVision Interactive. InVision, based in Scotts Valley, CA., were mostly known for developing an ROM card for the Korg M1, named "M1 Plus 1", and their Lightware AKAI samples in co-production with North Star and Sound Genesis. They also produced sample ROM expansions for EMU Proteus.

This card comes with different drivers (2.x) and also new DSP firmware (.LD files for General MIDI and Roland MT-32). You could buy the InVision ROMs for approx $40 back in the day.


"InVision Interactive, a supplier of sound samples for leading synthesizer manufacturers (Korg, Ensoniq, Yamaha and others), has designed a custom sound set for Orchid Technology's SoundWave 32 card. This new sound set, with over 200 instrument and effects sounds , improves the quality of both the General MIDI and MT-32 instruments by utilizing InVision's patented sound processing techniques.

"Originally aimed at music markets, this new sample set is great for games and other multimedia applications, enhancing the realism and depth of the Orchid SoundWave 32 card. These ROM sets are available now from InVision Interactive. The price is $39.95 (plus shipping and handling), and includes the new ROM chips and software. A new ROM upgrade for Orchid's GameWave 32 will also be available February 1, 1994, from InVision. InVision Interactive can be reached at 800-468-5530 (orders only), (415)812-7380, or (415)812-7386 FAX."
     Orchid Press Release, August 1995

 

User FGB on Vogons believes you can detect if your SW32 is using the original ROMS or InnoVision ones by the fact the ROM sticker has an 'A' suffix (original) or a 'B' suffix (InVision). That, and the copyright message reading '(C) Orchid/INVSN' for the InVision ones.

Not only were the InnoVision ROMs better than the original Prosonus ones, but the updated DSP code provided better Sound Blaster compatibility, improved MIDI THRU support, and improved MIDI SYSEX support.

Even with the InVision patchset, the output quality is poor.

Rich Heimlich said this of the SW32 w/InVision: "A very competent entry level card if you want better sound but you get what you pay for which in this case means a low quality patch set and poor SB/FM compatibility.". He scored it 3 out of 10 for digital quality and 2.5 out of 10 for music quality.

Driver Disks - Contains v1.3, v1.4 and v2.1 driver versions - only difference v1.x and v2.x is in the .LD DSP microcode files

Here is a dump of the two 512 KB InnoVision ROMs: ROM1, ROM2

SoundWave 32 Pro

Launched: 1994
FM synthesizer: OPL2 FM emulation
Audio codec: Analog Devices AD1848KP
DSP: Analog Devices ADSP2115
Price when New: -

Supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster Pro, Microsoft Windows Sound System, General MIDI, and Roland MPU-401 interface.

SoundWave 32 Pro, unlike its smaller sibling (the SW32), has 2 MB of samples onboard. Like the SW32, the Pro still doesn't have a wavetable header.

Comes with Sony and Mitsumi CD-ROM drive interfaces.

User Manual

SoundWave 32+SCSI / 32Pro SCSI / 32+Studio

Launched: 1994
FM synthesizer: OPL2 FM emulation
Audio codec: Analog Devices AD1848KP
DSP: Analog Devices ADSP2115.
Price when New: -

Supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster Pro, Microsoft Windows Sound System, General MIDI, and Roland MPU-401 interface.

Like the SoundWave Pro, it has 2 MB of compressed samples onboard (a total of 56 wavetable synthesis voices). The SW32 SCSI cards all shipped with the InnoVision / InVision ROMs, which were an optional cost upgrade for the original SoundWave 32 card. In addition, all the SCSI and Studio cards came with a wavetable header.

Comes with SCSI-2 and Mitsumi CD-ROM drive interfaces.

The SoundWave 32+Studio is the same as 32+SCSI and 32Pro SCSI, but adds Orchid's WaveBooster 4FX high-quality wavetable synthesizer card, which features 4 MB of ROM samples (compressed to 2 MB?), built-in digital effects such as reverb, chorus, and is compatible with GS (General Synthesizer) specification.

User Manual

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NuSound PnP 32

Launched: 1995
FM synthesizer: ?
Audio codec: ?
Price when New: £129

Features plug and play compatibility, Spatializer 3D audio technology.
Supports Windows Sound System, General MIDI, Roland MT-32, Sound Blaster and Sound Blaster Pro.

"Orchid is to launch a revolutionary new soundcard which combines wavetable synthesis with 3D surround sound and full games compatibility. The NuSound PnP supports the Intel/Microsoft Plug and Play specification, and is the first product to combine all these features onto a single board. The NuSound features 16-bit stereo sound and is compatible with SoundBlaster Pro, General Midi, Windows Sound System and Roland, amongst others. It is expected to retail at £129.00."     PC Review, Iss.47 September 1995

 

User Manual