TROPIC Chipset

16/4 Token-Ring Protocol Interface Controller

Strange chip: Teardown of a vintage IBM TR controller ("Pinegrove Shrink", by Ken Shirriff)

Chipset Documentation
Part Numbers
Identifying the Chipset
OEM TROPIC Chipset List

Chipset Documentation

The TROPIC chipset was designed by IBM and all of the core chips were manufactured by the company as well. It's based around the "Pinegrove" Token-Ring interface controller. The chips where available to 3rd parties through National Semiconductor under the TROPIC (Token-Ring Protocol Interface Controller) name.

DP8025 Token Ring Interface Controller ("Pinegrove")
DP802511 TROPIC RAM Relocation Register Decoder (ISA only)
DP802512 Upper Memory Decoder (ISA only)
DP802513 Memory MEMCS-16 Signal Decoder (ISA only)
DP802514 TROPIC Microcode, Even (REEF) & Odd (PELE)

The DP802514 and DP802515 are the Microcode ROMs for the TROPIC Token-Ring Network Controller.

AN-857 An Introduction to Token Ring
AN-850 TROPIC - A Front End Description
AN-816 Layout Guideline for a Token Ring Adapter Using the DP8025 (TROPIC)
AN-848 ISA and MicroChannel Host Software and Programmer's Guide for the DP8025 TROPIC

Part Numbers

02G1394 - "Pinegrove"?
50G6144 - "Pinegrove Shrink" (die shrink of the original Pinegrove)

Identifying the Chipset

If the card ID = E001 (or E000 for the 4Mb/s) then it's Pinegrove/TROPIC. This chipset is also used by all E000 / E001 compatible cards from Madge, Compex, Hypertech, Kingston, etc. (some cards use different adapter ID however)

IBM came "out of the TROPICs" for MCA with the LANStreamers (MC16 - 8FA4 / MC32 - 8FA0 & 8FA2). The TR Server Busmaster adapter (8FC8) bases mainly on the TROPIC architecture as far as I know.

OEM TROPIC Chipset List

Peter says:
   If you look at the Madge "True Blue" 16/4 card you will find the same silver capped chip there. Card has ID E001 - and works with the same "TROPIC" drivers under Linux. NS was a second source manufacturer of the TROPIC chipset for quite some time. Other customers were e.g. Hypertec in Australia, which used IBM and NS chips. At least I have seen Hypertech E001 cards with both sorts of chips.

In the pictures database there is a Madge TR with the NS and a Hypertech (long card) with the IBM chip. Later -on the Auto-TR 16/4- IBM switched to an all-plastic chip.

David Beem says:
   My "Networking the Desktop, Cabling, Configuration, and Communications" (Deni Conner/Mark Anderson, Academic Press, 1995) explains the various TR chipsets in a couple of paragraphs. The NS chip is referred to in the second:

"Texas Instruments (TI) announced an agreement with IBM to develop a token ring chipset called the TMS380 based on the IBM token-ring specification. This chipset had technological and performance advantages over the IBM chipset that allowed increased data buffers for data transfer and also allowed direct memory access (DMA) transfers, in which an onboard controller managed access to memory. Later, TI enhanced the TMS380 chipset to accommodate 16Mbps token-ring networks, resulting in the TMS380C16. Recently [to when the book was written], TI announced an advanced token-ring chipset using the TMS380C26 chipset, which integrates more functionality than the previous two.

While the TI chipset is 100-percent compatible with the IEEE 802.5 and 802.2 token-ring specifications, it is not 100-percent compatible with IBM's LLC protocol implementation. As a result, IBM developed the Token-Ring Protocol Interface Controller (TROPIC) chipset for third-party vendor use, ensuring register-level compatibility for all IBM applications. Marketed by National Semiconductors under license from IBM, TROPIC manufacturers include vendors such as Madge Networks, Proteon, Thomas-Conrad Corp., Cabletron Systems, and 3Com..."

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