The Performance Edge: Sonnet's Bus Doubling Technology And The Price/Performance Equation

Monday, September 18, 2000

Sonnet, continues to come up with one innovative upgrade after another. Just a few weeks ago they announced an upgrade for the 7200 family of machines that fits in a PCI slot (previously these machines were not thought to be upgradable) and now they have extended the performance range of NuBus Macs with a technology they call Fortissimo. Fortissimo is a bus doubling technology that creates a second bus which resides between the motherboard bus and the processor. With the Fortissimo card installed the system bus thinks that it is receiving data at the same frequency as the original processor while to the G3 processor it looks like the frequency is twice the speed of the original bus .... a sort of Panama Canal effect. Normally current G3 processors top out at 10X the system bus ( if you have a 40MHz bus in your machine the top speed you could run a G3 upgrade card would be 400MHz). For G4 cards the top speed is 9X the system bus. Theoretically with Fortissimo technology you should be able to run an 800MHz G3 card in a Power Mac 7100, which has a 40MHz bus....we'll see if that pans out down the road when faster G3 and G4 chips are available. In the meantime Sonnet will have Fortissimo G3 upgrade cards running at 400MHz and 500MHz, for NuBus Macs in October. The fastest each of these cards will run in your machine will depend on the original speed of your system bus - see below.

Power Mac  Bus Speed  Fortissimo Bus Cresc.G3/400  Cresc.G3/500
6100/60     30MHz        60MHz       390MHz @6.5x  480MHz @8x
6100/66     33MHz        66MHz       396MHz @6x    495MHz @7.5x
7100/66     33MHz        66MHz       396MHz @6x    495MHz @7.5x
7100/80     40MHz        80MHz       400MHz @5x    480MHz @6x
8100/80     40MHz        80MHz       400MHz @5x    480MHz @6x
8100/100    33.3MHz      66.6MHz     400MHz @6x    500MHz @7.5x
8100/110    36.7MHz      73.3MHz     403MHz @5.5x  477MHz @6.5x
8100/120    40MHz        80MHz       400MHz @5x    480MHz @6x

Below we explore what performance gain you will see with these cards installed in the machines they are made for. We also take a comparative look at the price/performance equation of each card.

New Prices and the Machines The Cards Are Intended For

Note: This upgrade is due in October - Sonnet was not more specific.

Crescendo G3/Nubus 500/200/1MB
Price $499.95

Crescendo G3/Nubus 400/200/1MB
Price $399.95


Sonnet³s Crescendo G3 upgrade card is compatible with the following Macintosh models:

6100/60, 6100/66, 7100/66, 7100/80, 8100/80, 8100/100, 8100/110, 8100/120

Previous Sonnet Prices


What kind of performance gain are you getting for the money you'll be shelling out for the various cards?......

Scores marked in Red indicate this information was provided by Sonnet. Scores Marked in Blue indicate that this information was independently verified by MacSpeedZone.

And how much do you pay per performance point (price divided by performance score) ....

Previous Sonnet Price/Performance Numbers

Have questions about these upgrades? Ask our experts below.

For Great Prices On Upgrades Check The Vendors Below
Processor Upgrades
Small Dog MacConnection

Graphics Cards
Small Dog MacConnection

Hard Drives & Optical Drives
Small Dog

RAM & Other Memory MacConnection

SCSI, Firewire USB Cards
Small Dog


Used/Refurbished Macs
Service & Parts
ebay Small Dog

Press Release

APPLE EXPO, PARIS, FRANCE - September 13,  2000. Sonnet Technologies, the worldwide
market share leader in processor upgrade cards for Apple Macintoshƒ computers,
announces the development of Fortissimoƒ, a breakthrough bus-doubling technology for
processor upgrades. Fortissimo-enhanced CPU upgrades  accelerate certain Macs beyond
the previous limitations of the machine's local bus speed. As IBM and Motorola offer
ever-faster PowerPCƒ processors, Fortissimo allows owners of  older Macs to take full
advantage of these new chips. Fortissimo versions of Crescendoƒ G3 and G4 upgrades for
NuBus and PCI Power Macs take advantage of the fastest of these processors for the
first time. In PCI Macs, Fortissimo additionally builds a compatibility bridge between
the G4 processor and Power Computing PowerCenter, PowerCenterPro, PowerCurve, and
PowerTower computers. The buses in these machines are not natively compatible with a
G4 processor.
The PowerPC G3 and G4 operating speeds are limited to 10x and 9x the computer's bus
speed, respectively. For example, a Macintosh with an original bus speed of 33.3 MHz
would previously have supported a G3 running only up to 333 MHz, or a G4 running only
up to 300 MHz. With  Fortissimo, Sonnet has designed a separate bus on the upgrade
card that runs at twice the speed of the host motherboard. In this example, G3 or G4
processors would operate based on a Fortissimo bus speed of 66.6 MHz, and would have
the potential to run up to 666 MHz or 600 MHz, respectively, depending on the
processor. The fastest G3s and G4s widely available today run at 500 MHz.
"Fortissimo represents a significant engineering accomplishment. The key challenges
involved addressing the complex behaviors of a variety of older motherboards
interacting with the new technology processors running at previously unachievable
speeds," states Sonnet's chief engineer Henry Kannapell. "Our technological feat with
Fortissimo marks the arrival of a revolutionary design for the CPU upgrade industry."
The latest Sonnet upgrades that tout the Fortissimo technology are the Crescendo G3
400/1M and Crescendo G3 500/1M for NuBus Macs. "This breakthrough Sonnet technology
will enable us to provide upgrades at speeds beyond what anyone thought possible,"
says Sonnet's president and CEO, Robert Farnsworth. "This is especially rewarding for
owners of older Macs who thought they would never have the chance to experience the
cutting-edge performance offered with the latest Mac models."³
Fortissimo premiered in Sonnet's recently announced Crescendo G3 400/1M PowerBook 1400
upgrade. Sonnet engineering used the Fortissimo technology to double the 33 MHz bus
speed of the PowerBook 1400 so that it  can take full advantage of the 400 MHz G3
Sonnet is also announcing a Crescendo G4/PCI 500/1M for shipment later this year. This
product not only provides a G4 solution at unprecedented speeds, but it also offers
legions of Power Computing PowerCenter, PowerCenterPro, PowerCurve and PowerTower
owners their first-ever G4 upgrade.
Crescendo G3 NuBus Fortissimo
Fortissimo allows Sonnet to exclusively deliver Fortissimo 400 and 500MHz Crescendo G3
upgrades for NuBus Power Macs. These upgrades deliver at or near these respective
speeds for every NuBus Power Mac, regardless of bus speed, as shown in the following
Power Mac  Bus Speed  Fortissimo Bus Cresc.G3/400  Cresc.G3/500
6100/60     30MHz        60MHz       390MHz @6.5x  480MHz @8x
6100/66     33MHz        66MHz       396MHz @6x    495MHz @7.5x
7100/66     33MHz        66MHz       396MHz @6x    495MHz @7.5x
7100/80     40MHz        80MHz       400MHz @5x    480MHz @6x
8100/80     40MHz        80MHz       400MHz @5x    480MHz @6x
8100/100    33.3MHz      66.6MHz     400MHz @6x    500MHz @7.5x
8100/110    36.7MHz      73.3MHz     403MHz @5.5x  477MHz @6.5x
8100/120    40MHz        80MHz       400MHz @5x    480MHz @6x
Crescendo G4 PCI Fortissimo
Sonnet³s Crescendo G4 500MHz will support virtually all PCI PowerMacs with a PDS
processor slot. These Macintoshes include the Power Mac 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600,
9500, and 9600, as well as clones Power Computing PowerCenter, PowerCenterPro,
PowerCurve, PowerTower, PowerTower Pro, and PowerWave; UMAX J700 and S900; Maxtell XB
Pro; and Daystar Genesis and Millenium Series.
Power Mac  Bus Speed  Fortissimo Bus  Cresc.G4/500
All PCI      50MHz      100MHz        500MHz @5x
Pricing and Availability
Sonnet Fortissimo technology is available with the following products:
Crescendo G3/PB                 400/1M  U.S. MSRP $399.95       Available Now
Crescendo G3/Nubus      400/1M  U.S. MSRP $399.95       Available October
Crescendo G3/Nubus      500/1M  U.S. MSRP $499.95       Available October
Crescendo G4/PCI                500/1M  U.S. MSRP $799.95       Available Q4
Additional products incorporating Fortissimo technology will be introduced in the
months ahead.
Simply Fast
Sonnet cards have unequaled ease-of-installation and reliability. The Sonnet Prestoƒ,
Crescendo and Encoreƒ cards work in every compatible Macintosh without the need for
the antiquated methods of hardware configuration. Free from switches, jumpers, and
control panels, the Sonnet upgrade cards are Simply Fastƒ. Sonnet products are
guaranteed to operate reliably over variations of machine, time and temperature. The
ability to move an upgrade card from one machine to another without the need to tweak
any jumpers, switches or control panels is a significant advantage to resellers and
organizations that want to maximize their flexibility, while minimizing the long term
technical support requirements.
About Sonnet Technologies, Inc.
Sonnet Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Irvine, California, is the worldwide
market share leader in processor upgrade cards and enhancement products for Apple
Macintoshƒ computers. Founded in 1986, Sonnet upgrades more Macintosh models with
processor upgrade cards than any other company. Sonnet products are easy to install,
are backed by a three-year warranty, include free technical support, and require no
switches, jumpers, or control panels. To locate an authorized reseller or purchase
product, visit the Sonnet Technologies web site , or call
the company at 1-800-786-6260 (USA and Canada) or 1-949-587-3500.
As of August 7, 2000 Sonnet moved to a larger facility:
Sonnet Technologies
15 Whatney
Irvine, CA  92618
(949) 587-3500
Fax: (949) 457-6350