Diamond Multimedia

Diamond was a graphics and sound card manufacturer for the IBM PC and its compatibles. Their first series was the "SpeedSTAR", based on the Tseng Labs ET4000 and ET4000AX chipsets. This was followed with the "Stealth" from 1995, which offered 3D acceleration under Windows - these used a chipset from S3. The SpeedSTAR range became their low-end / budget range at this time. Later on the Stealth cards incorporated both 2D and 3D capabilities. Moving towards the late 90s, Diamond introduced the "Viper" range, relegating the Stealth range to be mid-range. In 1998 they acquired Micronics/Orchid, and they merged with S3 in 1999.

"Micronics Computers, manufacturers of the Orchid Righteous 3Dfx card as well as a range of motherboards, have been acquired by Diamond Multimedia Systems for around US $31.6 million. Micronics have been in trouble lately, ever since Intel joined the motherboard market in earnest, providing moderate range boards at a cheap price. Though Micronics Orchid Righteous 3Dfx cards did prove to be popular with consumer, their main source of revenue was through their motherboards, and so Micronics had been struggling financially of late.

Diamond will continue to market and promote Orchid Righteous video cards, including the new Orchid Righteous 2 cards (based on the Voodoo 2) as well as their 'Monster 2' Voodoo2 based cards, though industry analysts have cited the main reason for Diamond's acquisition as being their desire to produce a more diverse range of hardware for PCs. Diamond are also expected to be investigating the possibility of integrating many proprietary products into single entities, which many see as the next direction for peripheral component manufacturers to take. With this latest acquisition, Diamond now produce 2D and 3D graphics cards, motherboards, sound cards, modems, and SCSI adapters, and could conceivably create motherboards and peripheral devices which combine many of these products rather than selling each separately."
     PC PowerPlay, July 1998

 

Graphics Cards

SpeedStar

Launched: 1991
Chipset: Tseng Labs ET4000AX
RAMDAC: MUSIC TR9C1710
Memory: 1 MB
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Price: ?
FCC ID: FTUTENTIMB

The original SpeedSTAR graphics card. Does not support true color. Good VGA performance for the 2D era.

Drivers: Windows 3.1

 

SpeedStar VGA

Launched: 1991
Chipset: Tseng Labs ET4000AX
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Price: ?
FCC ID: FTUTENTIMB

Good VGA performance for the 2D era.

Drivers: Windows 3.1

 

SpeedSTAR 24

Launched: 1992
Chipset: Tseng Labs ET4000AX
Memory: 1 MB DRAM
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Price: ?
FCC ID: FTUSPEEDC

The core clock runs at 65 MHz. The card has a single 15-pin D-SUB port. Supports true color. Good VGA performance for the 2D era.

Drivers: Windows 3.1

 

SpeedStar 24X

Launched: 1992
Chipset: Western Digital WD90C31A-LR
Memory: 512 KB (maximum 1 MB)
Bus: ISA 16-bit
Price: $249 (1992)

Core clock runs at 80 MHz.

"The SpeedStar 24X proved quicker in WinTach's overall RPM (relative performance measurement) results, although Genoa's VGA 79000 had faster CAD ratings. Diamond also plans to be shipping its Stealth VRAM (video RAM) 24-bit card for $399 by the time you read this. Diamond's SpeedStar 24X gets my nod of approval for best value-to-performance ratio in low-cost 24-bit 640 by 480-pixel Windows adapters."     Byte's Essential Guide to Windows, 1992

 

Drivers: Windows 3.1

 

SpeedStar Pro

Launched: 1993
Chipset: Cirrus Logic CL-GD5426 or CL-GD5428
Memory: 1 MB FPM (expandable to 2 MB)
Bus: ISA 16-bit or VLB
Price: ?

The core clock speed runs at 80 MHz, with memory running at 50 MHz.

Drivers: Windows 3.1

 

SpeedStar 64

Launched: 1994
Chipset: Cirrus Logic CL-GD5434
Memory: 1 MB (upgradable to 2 MB).
Bus: ISA 16-bit or VLB
FCC ID: FTUSA5434A
Price: $149 (1MB ISA or PCI, Feb 1995), $195 (2MB ISA or PCI, Feb 1995), $92 (2MB ISA, Apr 1997)

Windows accelerator card. Internal memory access only runs at 32-bit if you have just 1 MB installed. Runs at 64-bit if you install an extra 1 MB.

 

 

SpeedStar 64 PCI

Launched: ?
Chipset: Cirrus Logic CL-GD5434
Memory: 2 MB (expandable to 4 MB?)
Bus: PCI
Price: ?

 

 

SpeedStar Pro SE

Launched: 1994.
Chipset: Cirrus Logic CL-GD5430
Memory: 1 MB FPM (expandable to 2MB)
Bus: PCI / VESA Local Bus
Price: ?

Core clock runs at 86 MHz, memory clock at 60 MHz.

 

 

Stealth 24 / 24VL

Launched: 1993
Chipset: S3 86C801 / S3 86C805
Bus: ISA 16-bit or VESA Local Bus
Memory: 1 MB DRAM (50ns access time)
FCC ID: FTU805A
Price: $249 (Apr 1993)
Known Board Revisions: C4

"Both Diamond Computer Systems boards - the $249 86C801-based Diamond Stealth 24 and the $349 86C928-based Diamond Stealth Pro - produced excellent Graphics Winmark score. The boards' AutoCAD scores were less impressive, though, and they had minor problems either with artifacts or properly clearing the screen in that environment. Additionally, the Stealth Pro needed a boost to get up to the level of DOS performance most of its 86C928-based peers provided."     PC Magazine, April 1993

 

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Stealth Pro

Launched: 1993
Chipset: S3 86C928
Bus: ISA 16-bit or VESA Local Bus
Memory: 1 MB or 2 MB
FCC ID:
Price: $349 for 1 MB, +$150 for 2 MB RAM and RAMDAC upgrade (Apr 1993)

"The S3 86C928-based Diamond Stealth Pro garnered high test scores under Microsoft Windows, but it was not such a well-rounded DOS or AutoCAD performer. At $349, this sturdy, easy-to-install board is worth the consideration of Windows users."
PC Magazine, April 1993

Stealth 64

Launched: 1994
Chipset: ?
Bus: VESA Local Bus and PCI
FCC ID: ?
Price: ?

Another picture of the Stealth 64 card.

Stealth SE

Launched: 1995
Chipset: S3 Trio32
Bus: PCI
FCC ID: FTUPCI7322M
Price: ?

Stealth 64 2001

Launched: 1995
Chipset: ARK1000PV
Bus: VESA Local Bus or PCI
Memory: 1 MB or 2 MB DRAM
FCC ID: ?
Price: ?

The ARK1000PV was an exceptionally fast video chipset with a 32-bit memory pipeline and aggressive DRAM timing. The 8-bit RAMDAC ran at either 110 MHz or 135 MHz. The memory clock ran at 80 MHz.

SpeedStar A50

Launched: 1998
Chipset: SiS 6326
Memory: 8 MB SDR
Bus: AGP 2x
Price: ?

This card supports MPEG-1 (Video-CD) hardware acceleration, and DirectX 5. The core clock runs at 100 MHz and has a memory bandwidth of 800 MB/second.

 

SpeedStar A55

Launched: 1999
Chipset: S3 Trio 3D/2X
Memory: 8 MB SDR
Bus: AGP 2x
Price: ?

This card supports MPEG-2 (DVD) hardware acceleration, and DirectX 5. The core clock runs at 100 MHz and has a memory bandwidth of 800 MB/second.

 

SpeedStar A90

Launched: 1999
Chipset: S3 Savage4
Memory: 32 MB SDR
Bus: AGP 4x @ 2x
Price: ?

This card supports DirectX 6. The core clock runs at 125 MHz. Its RAMDAC runs at 300 MHz. Memory bandwidth is 1000 MB/second.

3DMark 99 scored 2049.
3DMark 2000 scored 704.

 

Stealth 3D-2000 / 2000XL

Launched: 1996
Chipset: S3 ViRGE/DX (86C325)
Bus: PCI
RAMDAC Speed: 170 MHz
Memory: 2 MB or 4 MB EDO
Price: $137 (4MB, Apr 1997), $135 (2MB, Oct 1997)

"Of the boards we tested, the Stealth 3D 2000XL from Diamond Multimedia delivered the best 2-D acceleration; it is an Editor's Choice."     PC Magazine, 3 Dec 1996


Key features:

  • 55 MHz core clock
  • 55 MHz memory clock (64-bit bus width)
  • Runs the original S3 ViRGE chipset - the 86C325
  • Memory can be expanded from 2 MB to 4 MB
  • 135 MHz RAMDAC

 

Stealth Video 2500

Launched: 1997
Chipset: Alliance ProMotion AT24
Bus: PCI
Memory: 1 MB or 2 MB EDO DRAM (64-bit)
Price: $59.95
FCC ID: FTUPM64221M

The Alliance ProMotion AT24 chipset was launched in Summer 1996. It had a 128-bit 2D and 3D graphics engine that supported full bilinear filtered motion video scaling, and came with optimized Direct X driver software. Its core clock ran at 170MHz, and it supported from 1 to 4 MB of EDO or FPM DRAM.

The ProMotion AT24 was pin-compatible with Alliance's earlier ProMotion-6422 chip.

Key features:

  • 170 MHz RAMDAC
  • Resolutions up to 1600 x 1200 (with 2 MB)
  • 24-bit colour depth
  • Refresh Rates up to 120 Hz
  • Up to 16.7M colours at 800 x 600 resolution
  • MPEG-1 playback up to 30 fps

Stealth 3D-3000[XL]

Launched: 1997
Chipset: S3 ViRGE/VX
Bus: PCI
Memory: 2 MB or 4 MB EDO
RAMDAC Speed: 220 MHz
Price: $180 (2MB, Apr 1997), $230 (4MB, Apr 1997), $170 (2MB, Oct 1997)

"Our revamped tests revealed two new best buys: ATI's $219 3D Pro Turbo PC2TV and Diamond's $170 Stealth 3D 3000. These two cards do the best job of handling a wide range of applications, from standard business applications to virtual reality. They're not tops at every single type of graphics application, but all in all, they're the best you can find right now for both work and play

The 3D Pro Turbo is particularly powerful since it has 8MB of SGRAM. It has strong performance in several different areas, including 2D, but it has mediocre AVI video playback. It also has TV-out capabilities. The Stealth 3D 3000 has excellent 2D performance and did well in two of our three subjective game tests. Still, it was one of several boards that botched Fox Interactive's Independence Day game. Overall, the Stealth 3D 3000 is a great package."
     PC Magazine, Vol.7 Iss.12 (Dec 1994)

Viper VLB

Launched: 1993
Bus: VLB
Chipset: Weitek P9000 & Weitek 5286
Memory: 2 MB VRAM (for P9000) + 1 MB DRAM (5286)
FCC ID: FTUVIPERA
Known BIOS Versions: 2.02
Known Board Revisions: B3
Price: ?

The P9000 chip is a Windows accelerator, while the 5286 handles VGA 2D work.

Some cards have the more integrated P9100 in place of both the P9000 and 5286 chips.

 

Viper V330 AGP

Launched: ?.
Bus: PCI
Price: ?

This card is basically a rebadged nVidia Riva 128/128ZX.

 

Viper V330 PCI

Launched: ?.
Bus: PCI
Price: ?

This card is basically a rebadged nVidia Riva 128 PCI.

 

Sound Cards

Diamond Multimedia OEM'd a few sound cards despite being largely remembered for their graphics cards. Oak technology were the development company behind these. Oak Technology exited the PC audio and 3D graphics markets in the quarter ended March 31st, 1998.

 

Diamond Sonic Sound

FM synthesizer: Yamaha YMF262
Chipset: OPTi 82C929A (MAD16 Pro)
Audio codec: Crystal CS4248-KL
FCC ID: K2Y-PRO16
Price When New: $269
Known Board Revisions: 1.3

The MAD16 (MediaChips 16-Bit Audio Controller) "Pro" chip provides Sound Blaster Pro, Windows Sound System, Ad Lib, and MPU-401 (UART) compatibility.
4 CD-ROM headers.
Wavetable header.

"Most people know Diamond for their hot-rod graphics cards such as the Speedstar 24X. Sonic Sound is one of the new breed of multimedia sound cards that, in the tradition of TV-advertised food processor products, does many things. The difference in this case is that the Sonic Sound does them all well. It has register-level compatibility with the 8-bit Sound Blaster and also emulates OPL2 FM 22 voice synthesis; in English, this means that it emulates the 8-bit Sound Blaster music and digital audio. MIDI for one's keyboard in handled with an MPU-401 full duplex MIDI port. However, one should note that this card does not have an on-board MIDI interpreter; in other words, one would not select the 'General MIDI' option in a game setup program and have his or her ears filled with killer game tunes. Its Aria chip must be supported directly.
Scott Kim, the Sonic Sound marketing manager at Diamond tells us that they have a driver that major game developers will be supporting in the near future. SCSI is handled with a Future Domain SCSI-2 host.. it is primarily intended as a CD-ROM host for a multimedia configuration. There is an upgrade available which includes voice recognition, larger wave table ROM, and a headset. Having these features as an upgrade gives this card a lower retail price. Any upgrades to the Sound Blaster emulation can be run from executable program which may be downloaded from the Diamond BBS. This executable is not a TSR and need only be run once prior to each use, due to the on-card Digital Signal Processor (DSP)."
     Computer Gaming World, October 1993



Issues reported with Windows drivers for MAD16 Pro. Any sound card with the 82C929A chip on it is really meant for use in pure DOS or alongside another sound card in Windows.

There is an "LX" version of the Sonic Sound. Some of these cards have an OPTi 92x chipset. These require a different driver

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Diamond Sonic 3D

FM synthesizer: ESS 1688A ("ESFM")
Mixer chip: ES968F.

4 CD-ROM headers.
Wavetable header.

Diamond Sonic Pro

Released: 1992
Main chip: 9248
Secondary chip: 9426
Has the Sierra Semiconductor Aria chipset.

Aria cards MUST be initialized via a software driver to function which for this card presented a problem as the original Diamond drivers are nowhere to be found on the internet except a dead archived link (*UPDATE* See below!). This forced me to use the drivers for the already mentioned Prometheus line of Aria based cards which fortunately mostly seem to work, at least under MS DOS.

These cards are extremely rare.

Original 1992 Diamond Sonic Pro "SONICSOUND" Windows Driver and Utilities Disk (also contains DOS utilities.

Other Aria-based drivers (16-bit and 32-bit AIL drivers, Aria DIGPAK driver, and Sierra On-Line GM and Digital Sound Drivers) SDK

Special thanks to Zdeněk Valečko for providing both of these downloads!

Monster Sound MX80

Launched: 1998
Bus: PCI
Price: $149 (Jul '98)

 

"The Diamond Monster Sound MX80 is an interesting entry into Diamond's sound card range. This is Diamond's mid-range card (that is to say, sitting between the Monster Sound 3D and the Sonic Impact).

The conundrum is that as a mid-range card its sound quality is definitely better than the Sonic Impact, yet offers less features in terms of digital effects and 3D sound emulation.

Essentially, the MX80 is a Monster Sound 3D without 4 speaker surround support. The MX80 only has one output for 2 speakers and unlike the lower end Sonic Impact, it doesn't even offer pretend surround sound in the form of a little built-in splitter.

Sonically, the MX80 sounds good and is identical to the Monster Sound 3D in 2 speaker mode. The quality isn't as good as the Yamaha [Waveforce XG] though, which as a Monster Sound 3D owner is rather disappointing. If Yamaha release a 4 speaker version of their sound card, I'll be the first buyer.

Midi sounds for the MX80 are functional and of average quality. Perhaps I'm too spoiled, but having owned an AWE32 for many years with 8Mb of memory downloadable sound fonts mean that instrument quality and variety are simply amazing. None of the sound cards tested offered downloadable midi sounds and therefore sadly pale when compared to a card 4 years older."
     PC PowerPlay, July 1998

 

Monster Sound MX200

Launched: 1998
Bus: PCI
Price: ?
Codec:
SnR Ratio:
Max. Sample Rate: 48 kHz

"The absolute top of the line A3D equipped PCI sound card add-on from Diamond Multimedia is their highly regarded Monster Sound MX200. Replacing the original Diamond Monster Sound, the MX200 brings quite a few new toys to the table as well as improved legacy compatibility and a more down to Earth price.

Supporting sample rates up to 48kHz, the MX200 supports a true surround sound configuration courtesy of its 2 Buffered Stereo Line-Level Outputs at the sacrifice of a standard Line-out. In essence, the MX200 doesn't have any more outputs than your standard sound card however it is packaged with utilities that allow you to make the most of those two outputs. There is a standard Line-in port on the back panel of the sound card, with CD, Modem, and Auxiliary inputs on the actual card itself.

The MX200 processes all game port signals on the board which should decrease CPU utilization when making use of a gameport joystick. However if you're planning on picking up a USB Joystick or Gamepad then you shouldn't really be concerned with this feature of the MX200.

The weakness of all PCI Sound Cards seems to be Legacy support for older DOS games. While running a game in a DOS window the MX200 will be detected and function as if it were a Sound Blaster Pro, unfortunately, for older DOS games that won't run in a DOS box you're probably out of luck using just an MX200. This is where that Monster Cable from the packaging comes in handy. Using the heavily shielded and extremely thick monster cable (the name does it justice) you can connect the MX200 to your current sound card so you can still run your older DOS games.


If you appreciate high quality audio and love the feeling of being immersed in it (i.e. you are the type of person that likes to listen to their music a little louder than most, or likes to turn on every speaker in the house to watch the newest action flick on DVD) then the Diamond Monster Sound MX200 is probably the answer to most of your prayers. However, if you're the type of person that focuses on gameplay and doesn't really care about the sounds coming out of your speakers, or if you don't play too many (if any) titles that would benefit from a Sound Card with A3D support then the Monster Sound MX200 quickly turns into a luxury device that serves no purpose but to take up a precious PCI slot."
     Anandtech, June 1998


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Monster Sound MX300

Launched: 1998
Bus: PCI
Price: ?
Codec: AC'97 Quad codec
SnR Ratio: ~96 dB
Max. Sample Rate: 48 kHz

The Diamond Monster Sound MX300 uses the Aureal Vortex 2 chip, with A3D 2.0 technology. It has an embedded DLS wavetable synthesizer with 320 voices.

The card also supports Dolby Digital for 2- or 4-speaker output, and up to 6 speakers with an optional daughtercard via its MX-Link connector.

For use in DOS, the card claims real mode DOS compatibility, though this is handled by emulation, rather than having a dedicated OPL chip.

User Manual

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Sonic Impact S70 / S90 / S100

Launched: 1998
Bus: PCI
Price: $119 (Jul '98)

The Sonic Impact was the value-oriented sound card line from Diamond. Whereas the Monster Sound lineup was targeted at no-holds-barred gamers, the Sonic Impact cards were more generally aimed, and were cheaper and less powerful. Within the Sonic Impact range were:

  • Diamond Sonic Impact S70 (ESS Maestro 2)
  • Diamond Sonic Impact S90(A/B) (Aureal Vortex 1)
  • Diamond Sonic Impact S100 (ESS Allegro)
"Diamond may be better known for their range of video cards, or more recently, their 3Dfx offerings, but in fact are becoming one of the world's largest multimedia forces. Previously proving their worth on the high end sound frontier with the Diamond Monster Sound 3D, the Sonic Impact, offering pseudo 4 speaker surround and a few less thrills than its bigger brother could become a popular choice.

The S70 is Diamond's offering to the lower ended market but that doesn't mean it's short on functionality. Offering quite a comprehensive sound solution its real time wave effects include Reverb, Chorus, Bass, Treble and 3D sound effects.

Another interesting factor is that the S70 has support for 4 speakers. The card doesn't actually differentiate between front and rear speakers as the MS3D does, but is still a good starting point for a 4 speaker solution. A neat trick to emulate surround sound is to turn up the bass in the rear speaker and reduce the bass in the front speakers. This effect is quite substantial.

Sonically, the S70 isn't the greatest. The general audio output from the card has a slightly muffled sound to it and at high volumes there is a slight hiss. CD's, although sounding good, are inferiorand in no-way comparable to the quality of the Yamaha [Waveforce XG]. Midi sounds are again acceptable, but without downloadable sound fonts are far too limited.

Ultimately, for $119 the S70 is a good sound card."
     PC PowerPlay, July 1998


"The Sonic Impact S70 brings nothing over from Diamond's Monster Sound series which is mainly intended for the serious gamer, as the S70 is not intended for 3D Audio. The S70, based on the ESS Maestro-II DSP doesn't sacrifice any quality in order to remain somewhat competitive from a pricing standpoint. The ability to process 32 audio streams simultaneously supercedes the capabilities of even the Monster Sound MX200 reiterating the fact that the S70 is not an el-cheapo sound card. The 64-voice hardware wavetable MIDI is also provided for courtesy of the ESS Maestro-II.

Like the Monster Sound boards, the Sonic Impact fully supports and accelerates DirectSound/DirectSound3D games and applications. The DSP can process and accelerate up to 5 simultaneous DS/DS3D streams giving it a slight advantage over some low cost PCI Sound Cards as well as most ISA Sound Cards.
While the card itself doesn't support A3D Surround or A3D Interactive technologies, the S70 features a total of 2 outputs consisting of one Stereo Speaker Out and one Line Level Speaker Out. In theory you could connect 2 sets of speakers to the S70, however it wouldn't give you the same experience that doing so to a MX200 or M80 would.

The S70, as with virtually all sound cards that don't allow for a connection to a Legacy Sound Card, provides very little support for legacy DOS games. If you're a big fan of the old classics you probably won't want to ditch your ISA sound card in favor of this puppy just yet. For those of you that are tired with the problems associated with installing ISA Sound Cards, the Sonic Impact S70 will definitely be a blessing from above as it will probably be the easiest sound card you ever had to install.

The bundle with the S70 could be improved, however in order to keep costs down the only things you'll find inside the package other than the board itself are Microsoft's NetShow, Midisoft's Internet Sound Bar 2.0 and Studio Recording Session, the same wav-editor found in the Monster Sound Bundles, a CD-player, and the full version of SimCopter by Maxis.

With a price above that of the AudioPCI from Creative/Ensonic you need to remember to ask yourself whether the features the S70 offers over the competition is worth the $20 of separation between the board and the AudioPCI for example. For a decent high end PCI sound card at a low end price, the Sonic Impact S70 from Diamond definitely brings home the gold. A better software bundle and a slightly lower price would give this card the advantage it needs over the competition, unfortunately you can't have it all in this industry.
"     Anandtech, June 1998


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Monster Sound MX400

Launched: 1999
Bus: PCI
Main audio chip: ESS ES1970S "Canyon3D"
Price:

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