Shown below is an AAlchemy GX+ system which was fairly common due to the Mercury Rising upgrade program Quantum3D was running. The AAlchemy GX+ AA5 systems as they were known were Mercury systems that were upgraded to AAlchemy with a single AA5 board. Technically I should have a Mercury case if I'm going to have an AAlchemy GX+ system but that is splitting hairs a bit to fine for me and when offered the chance to purchase an AAlchemy case I jumped at it.
Some time in the future I may upgrade the motherboard to the Supermicro dual P3 boards utilized in the AAlchemy SX systems but really feel no need as the P3 family of CPU's tops out at 1.0-1.1 ghz and this system is already trucking along at 850 mhz.
The big thing about AAlchemy is image quality- People see a board with 8 chips and assume it is going to be a speed monster. Performance is fair but where AAlchemy really shines is when Anti-Aliasing is enabled as it virtually has no impact on performance.
An example how AAlchemy works is to look at a Mercury- Mercury is no faster then a Voodoo II SLI rig because each board is handling the same scene which is then blended into one final output. I'm not sure if some of the chips chips on AAlchemy are actually idle when Anti-Aliasing is disabled but I can tell you there is no performance impact when AA is togged on and off during benchmarks.
An AAlchemy GX/SX/TX manual can be downloaded here and a SX sales flyer can be downloaded here, both in PDF format.
Front side view of the massive board- Eight VSA-100 processors with a full compliment of 5.4 ns ram
These were run in single system, three board configurations and the hardware supports 4 boards in a single system!
Quantum3D logo close up near backplate connectors. The 2 "network" connectors shown are for actually hooking up and synchronizing additional AAlchemy systems for large multi-screen displays.
Shown with power supply board installed.
Someone at Quantum3D has sense of humor.
A serious warning though as the power supply for the video board is rated for 75 amps @ 2.9 volts.
Front of case showing huge fan intakes and drive bay cover
Quantum3D AAlchemy decal on back of case.
Check out those load ratings- 75 AMPS on the 2.9V feed which is the core feed for the 8 VSA-100 chips. The unique power supply was a large PITA to obtain and even then had to be sent back to the original supplier for an expensive repair! Unfortunately none are available new or even reconditioned.
Here you can see the GX+ motherboard installed with a pair of P3-850's, 512 MB of ECC ram and drives. The cable hanging out of the case on the left side is the power supply leads for the 8164 power board.
One problem I ran into was clearance for the SCSI drive cable- The original AAlchemy boards didn't utilize an aluminum shroud like the later boards and with the shroud installed the card would not seat properly. Rather then run the board without a shroud I opted for some machining of a spare assembly to clear the cable.
Picture of SCSI cable with card installed.
Burly 120 mm fans running at high speed keep things cool.
Drive bay door open showing SCSI drive cradle, vertical floppy & CD-ROM. The grill in the middle contains fans to provide ventilation for the SCSI hard drive.
8164 installed with power leads hooked up, ready for action. Hiding in the last PCI slot is an optional Sound Blaster Live 5.1
With the top cover on you can see the blocks of foam that make sure the card stays seated.
When I first authored this page the system was complete except for some small details which have finally been addressed. Missing from the system was the video board fan blower mounted in the "tunnel of love" behind the main case fans, the hexagon hole grill for the rear of the case and the correct color foam for the front of the video & power board (noted in the manual as a "retention device")
While some people might dismiss this as all petty stuff I always think that details are important in any project.
The "Tunnel of Love"
Scan from Quantum3D manual, tunnel shown installed.
Installed in my AAlchemy system, with correct color foam.
Rear grill- This was used if the system didn't have the optional sensor package.
Grill shown installed.
AAlchemy graphics properties under Win200Pro. (click for more detailed image)
What you see when testing in the properties panel.
A surprise was Quake 3 runs (GLQuake, Quake II, Jedi Kight Outcast & Serious Sam also run)
You have to remember AAlchemy systems were primarily utilized for Flight Simulators and Military simulators. Several people were hugely surprised that some games were able to run without much trouble not that many people play games on a box that retailed for $15,000 USD.. and up!
Shown above is a Quantum3D nVSENSOR board, which is amusing since under the heatsink is a Voodoo 3 chip! This add on board is bridged to the back of an AAchemy to provide DVI output with extra environmental effects like fog and snow.
Here is a snippet- For IR and NVG applications, AAlchemy is available with nVSensor, Quantum3D's realtime hardware sensor post processing option that enables AAlchemy to host high-fidelity sensor simulations without the performance degradation associated with software-only approaches. With its 10-bit per pixel DAC and optimized support for MultiGen-Paradigm Vega™, SensorWorks™, SensorVision™ and viXsen™, nVSensor adds sensor effects including AC Coupling, AGC, Blur, Detail Peaking, Gain and Bias, OTW/Sensor Multiplexing, Noise, Polarity Inversion (white-hot / black-hot), Reticles and Symbology, and Tint to realtime rendered IR or NVG scenes with DVI and analog RGB output.