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Ocean Information Hippo VL
by Rick Smith (June 1993)

Ocean Information Systems of California has created a quick and reliable, upgradable 486 local bus motherboard called the Hippo VL. It presents a good value as a 486 motherboard for new systems as well as an upgrade motherboard for 286 or 386 (AT-class) systems.

Dynamic cache architecture
This motherboard includes dynamic cache architecture which is a unique form of memory caching found in many high performance mainframe and minicomputer systems.

Clean Design
The clean layout of this motherboard, with no wiring "patches", coupled with a relatively low parts count should increase this motherboard's reliability.

Local Bus
The VESA VL bus was created to allow peripheral boards such as video graphics accelerators, hard disk controllers and network interface controllers to transfer information to the CPU and memory subsystem more rapidly than the slower 16-bit ISA bus originally developed for the 6mhz 286 IBM AT computer. The VL bus is 32-bits wide and can run at 33mhz speeds. While the other major local bus contender, PCI, looks promising and is gathering momentum, few PCI boards exist at reasonable prices. At present the VESA VL bus looks like the local bus of choice for 486 class systems.

This motherboard is surprisingly quick, without using any of the VESA local bus capabilities. By using the two VESA local bus slots for both a graphics accelerator board and a hard disk controller board, this motherboard can provide even greater speed enhancement.

Easy, Standard Mounting
It is a baby AT/sub-XT sized motherboard, 11 inches long and 8.5 inches wide. It has a total of six 16-bit slots and two of these slots are VESA VL bus slots.

Eight high quality SIMM sockets are used on the motherboard for quick and easy SIMM installation and removal. Remember that 386 Micronics motherboard where you had to use pliers to get the SIMMs out or the quick-to-break sockets used in the Alpha Systems motherboards ?

The turbo, reset, keylock and speaker connector pins are clearly marked and located in the front of motherboard for easy connections. The power supply connectors are the standard IBM AT style. The motherboard should work fine in medium and large cases and the screw mounting pattern provides good support for the longer VLB connectors.

Excellent "Real World" Performance
Since most diagnostic performance tests don't always give useful information, I have compared this motherboard using actual software. This motherboard was excellent when used with my favorite CPU cycle burner - Virtual Reality Laboratories VistaPro. VistaPro is a virtual landscape generator and it will take as much performance as you can give the program and this motherboard performed very well.

Usage

This motherboard can be used as a:
New computer system:Yes
PC Upgrade:No
XT Upgrade:No
286 or AT Upgrade:Yes
386 Upgrade:Yes
486 Upgrade:Yes

Pros
High Performance per dollar Ratio
AMI BIOS
Upgradable by CPU change
Clean design
8 high quality SIMM sockets
Front mounted cable connectors
VESA VL bus slots
Standard mounting holes and power connectors

Cons
Only 6 ISA slots
No 8-bit only slot
Only 486 CPU - "no blue socket"
No cache size number to impress your friends with

Copyright 1993 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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