A Super VGA chipset that supports up to 1 MB of video memory, the WD90C30 was a popular choice by graphics card manufacturers.

Released 1990
Bus ISA 16-bit
Chipset Western Digital WD90C30
Standards MDA, Hercules, CGA, EGA, VGA
Memory 512 KB or 1 MB
Ports 15-pin DSUB (RGB analogue out)
RAMDAC Up to 80 MHz
See Also  

Highlights of the WD90C30 chipset are:

  • Resolutions up to 1024 x 768 in 256 colours (also 640 x 400, 640 x 480, 800 x 600, all in 256 colours)
  • 132-column text mode and 6-16 pixels wide fonts
  • Integrated CRT controller, sequencer, graphics controller and attribute controller
  • Write buffer for zero wait state CPU write performance
  • 8- or 16-bit data bus for I/O and memory. True 16-bit CPU-to-video memory transfer for all modes
  • 16-bit or 32-bit memory interface with fast page operations
  • Up to 80 MHz maximum video clock rate
  • Up to 50 MHz maximum memory clock rate
  • Supports all VGA modes if using two 64Kx16 DRAMs
  • Full VGA hardware and BIOS compatibility
  • EGA register-level compatibility on analog, TTL, and multi-frequency monitors
  • Backward compatibility with MDA, CGA, EGA, Hercules and AT&T 6300.
  • Flexible RAM options, including two, four or eight 64Kx16 DRAMs, or four or eight 256Kx4 DRAMs, or one or two 256Kx16 DRAMs.

The VESA BIOS extensions in the VGA ROM BIOS are version 1.01. With the UNIVBE equivalent this can be extended to offer more modes:

Built-in VESA modes (left) and with UNIVBE 6.70 installed (right)

I have done some benchmark testing with a Northman Technologies card with this chipset, in my 4-part C&T 386 Revival article, and also in my OPTi 386/486 Hybrid motherboard review (page 2). The WD90C30 is a very high-performing ISA-based SVGA chip, with ...

Top: Vidspeed (left) and MonTest (right)
Bottom: VInfo in 320x200, 640x400, 640x480, 800x600 and 1024x768 modes, all in 256 colours

The above performance tests were conducted on a Northman Technologies WD90C30-LR with 512 KB of Fujitsu-branded (61C4256A) 70ns video RAM. The host PC was a Pentium MMX 233 on a Gigabyte GA-5AX motherboard with 32 MB of RAM. Video BIOS ROM shadowing was enabled in the BIOS.

VInfo tests a video card's memory performance, copying data between processor (P), video memory (V) and main memory (M), using three different-sized blocks and reports the data transfer rate in MB/sec.

Cards that use this include:

  • Northman Technologies WD90C30-LR (512 KB) (FCC ID: I7APVGAID)
  • Octek PVGA1D (V4201D) (512 KB or 1 MB)
  • ProLink Microsystems MVGA (1 MB) - see 2nd, 3rd and 4th images below (FCC ID: IB9MVGA P16DW)
  • Data Expert XP6678 (1 MB)
  • Formosa Microsystems FM-V902Z (FCC ID: ILUFM-V902)

PCs that came bundled with the WD90C30-LR graphics card include:

  • GRiD MFP/450 (486DX2-50 machine, 512 KB card)
  • Softworks Development Citus MDC (486DX2-50 machine, 1 MB card)
  • Dell System 486D/50 (embedded on motherboard, 1 MB video RAM)

In September 1992, Windows 3.1 drivers for the WD90C30-LR video chipset were still not available.

Click here for the WD90C30 datasheet.


Board Revisions



"To move out of the board business and focus on Large Scale Integration (LSI) products, Western Digital Corp. will introduced the latest addition to its family of VGA devices today.

Aimed at the high-end desktop market, the WD90C30 is a VGA controller chip for PC, XT, AT, and PS/2 systems and is implemented either directly on the motherboard or as an enhancement board.

The WD90C30 provides software driver support for Microsoft Windows, OS/2, Presentation Manager, AutoCAD, and Lotus 1-2-3, and support for VESA standard refresh rates of up to 1,024-by-768 noninterlaced resolution with 256 colors.

Other features include zero-wait-state performance; enhanced memory configuration for three types of DRAM (64K by 16, 256K by 4, and 256K by 16); and XGA capability with 65,536 simultaneous colors at 640-by-480 resolution for the support of multimedia applications.

Samples in 132-pin packages are now shipping and are priced at $30 in quantities of 1,000. Production quantities will be available in July.

The company is also working with Microsoft to ensure that its drivers will be part of Microsoft's multimedia extensions to Windows."

InfoWorld, 8 April 1991


In the Media


Setting it Up


Operation Manual

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Original Utility Disk

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More Pictures