Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

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Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby Artex » 2015-2-12 @ 17:58

I thought I'd dive into some of my Socket 3-based systems for these next few "Artex's Build of the Week" iterations. A few of these have been documented in what turned out to be a massive thread, but I know everyone loves pix so here goes!

Round four of my Socket 3 round of builds...

All I can say is that this Asus PCI/I-486SP3G motherboard is a real thorn in my ass - the most painful experience I've had in quite a long time. While the specs (PCI/ISA, Onboard SCSCI, PS/2 header) sound nice on paper, this Intel Saturn II chipset really blows goats.

  1. It can only do a 25Mhz or 33Mhz external clock - no way to set 40Mhz.
  2. Pretty much all the jumper settings for various processors & L1/L2 cache settings are incorrect in the manual. Lots of websites are incorrect as well.
  3. It uses memory interleaving (memory has to be installed in pairs) but memory throughput on this chipset is really terrible.
  4. You cannot run a Cyrix "M1sc" or Intel OverDrive (P24T) on this board reliably (outside of DOS).
  5. The Saturn II chipset does not support L1 Write-Back cache (even when using a WB chip like the Intel DX2/DX4 SL), except for a few scenarios (AMD X5-133, and AMD DX4/100 SV8B). The BIOS default is set to WB for L2 cache, but this results in a 5% performance hit unless you install a dirty TAG RAM (Which I've done). I don't think L2 WB works well with memory interleaving either as the cachechk benchmarks really suffered dramatically unless L2 was set to WT.
  6. BIOS setting for WB vs WT is vague - doesn't say if it applies to L1 or L2 (It applies to L2 after doing some research)
  7. The native IDE controller is extremely sensitive to various sizes/brands of CF cards. Some require the use of an overlay, others don't - doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. Some require a BIOS setting of NORMAL, others required LBA. Note, the board only has one IDE header instead of two -> DUMB

References:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/a ... jzL5BresYJ
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searc ... YDyZNExdUJ
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic ... 8xJa088xOI
http://www.elhvb.com/mobokive/archive/a ... g-cpu.html
http://www.menet.umn.edu/~bob/FAQ/asus-faq
http://markmail.org/message/kckyjqo7gv3aac2m



I finally have it up and running, and STABLE. I've got DOS 7.1 on here with Windows 3.11 as well. I originally threw in my Turtle Beach Monterey (Turtle Beach Tahiti + Rio daughterboard) that worked great in Windows 3.11 but really not so much (at all) in DOS - these cards are meant for audiophiles and not gamers. In Windows though, wow, the card really impressed me on both the PCM and GM side of things.

Since my builds are really geared towards DOS gaming, I figured the Reveal card would work pretty well. It's basically an Ensoniq SoundScape S-2000 clone with 2MB of sample ROM, so the GM sounds fantastic (dare I say better than Rolands SCC-1A, or SCB-55?). It's an interesting card to say the least, using some non-standard ports for PCM output and requiring an IRQ for the General Midi side of things (why??!). The SB emulation kinda stinks for some games, so I may throw in a SB16 or SB Pro in there as well just to ensure compatibility.



Specs:

Case: Generic AT Small Tower
Power Supply: 200W
Motherboard: Asus PCI/I-486SP3G Rev 1.8 Intel Saturn II S8423TX (PCI/ISA) (1994)
Cache Info:
8KB L1 Cache (In Write-back mode)
256KB L2 Cache
Processor: AMD 486 DX4-100 (A80486DX4-100SV8B - 3V - WB Cache)
Cooling: Socket 3 Cooler

Network:
Network Interface Card - 3Com Etherlink III 3C509B-TPO ISA

Storage:
4GB CF Card (CF->IDE Adapter) connected to native controller
GOTEK USB Floppy Emulator
CDROM

Memory:
32MB RAM (2 x 16MB FPM 60ns SIMMS)

Audio:
REVEAL Sound FX 32 Wave (SC600) (Ensoniq SoundScape S-2000 Clone) (2MB ROM) (1995)

Video:
S3 Trio64V+ 2MB PCI


Benchmark Results:
SpeedSys Overall Score: 37.68
DOOM: 2134 gametics in 1950 realtics
Superscape: 68.8 fps
PC Player Bench: 16.3
Quake: 969 Frames 101.1 Seconds, 9.6 FPS

Cache Performance:

CacheChk -d -t6
L1 (16KB) - 102.4 MB/s
L2 (256KB) - 55.8 MB/s
Main Memory Speed - 34.4 MB/s
Effective RAM Access Time (read) - 122 ns
Effective RAM Access Time (write) - 92 ns

CacheChk -d -w -t6
Main Memory Speed - 45.34 MB/s 23.1 ns/byte
Effective RAM Access Time (write) - 92ns


Onto the hardware Pr0n!

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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby 5u3 » 2015-2-12 @ 20:53

Artex wrote:All I can say is that this Asus PCI/I-486SP3G motherboard is a real thorn in my ass - the most painful experience I've had in quite a long time. While the specs (PCI/ISA, Onboard SCSCI, PS/2 header) sound nice on paper, this Intel Saturn II chipset really blows goats.

Agreed. Years ago I got one of these (back then, 486 PCI boards were cheap or even free!) and I thought it would make a nice upgrade for my SIS-based PVI-486SP3. Everyone was talking about how bad those combo VL/PCI boards were, and old magazines suggested that while the first version of the Saturn chipset was buggy, the revision would blow the competition out of the water, especially in memory and PCI throughput.
Well, it didn't. It was worse than my SIS board in every aspect. After tinkering around for a while, I got rid of it.

If you feel adventurous, try some more PCI cards, like a network card, or a bus mastering IDE controller. :lol:
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby Artex » 2015-2-12 @ 21:00

5u3 wrote:If you feel adventurous, try some more PCI cards, like a network card, or a bus mastering IDE controller. :lol:

Man, I'm glad I'm not the only one... and hell no, I'm done with this pig. :dead:
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby meljor » 2017-3-03 @ 19:17

Two years later, more matured and calmed down again :lol: : what's the final verdict on this board?
asus tx97-e, 233mmx, voodoo1, s3 virge ,sb16
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby Artex » 2017-3-03 @ 21:41

meljor wrote:Two years later, more matured and calmed down again :lol: : what's the final verdict on this board?

Still a pig... :)
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby feipoa » 2017-3-04 @ 20:54

Think you have time to comment in this post concerning this board, https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?p=535505#p535505
1) Were you able to get L1 write-back working with the Intel DX4 or Am5x86
2) Did you order the dirty-tag IC and determine if L2 WB is working property and what the benchmark results are? I am wondering if this will somehow improve the main memory performance, at least to SiS 496 or UMC 8881 levels.
Last edited by feipoa on 2017-3-05 @ 06:24, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby Tetrium » 2017-3-04 @ 22:57

Artex wrote:
meljor wrote:Two years later, more matured and calmed down again :lol: : what's the final verdict on this board?

Still a pig... :)

lol!

Nice build, even though I'm like 2 years late lol
The case looks amazing! But I was kinda surprised you only used 2 out of 4 screws to fasten the fan to the heatsink? :P
Btw, you could've attached a regular s7 HSF to that CPU socket as it has those (I keep forgetting their proper names..that is if they even have them lol!) socket tabs and use one of those (here we go again :blush: ) Z-wire thingies.

When I was using those really small fans, mine would make a LOT of rattling noise every time I went to fasten that tiny fan (it would bend a little bit but enough to make the noise quite unpleasant).

But kudo's for trying to make this one work, especially with that AMD chip in there :)
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby feipoa » 2017-3-05 @ 06:26

I think they are called Z-clips. If someone knows where to buy a dozen of them for cheap, please let me know. I only have 1 and save it for testing.
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby Artex » 2017-3-05 @ 13:33

Thanks for the comments guys. I must have snapped that pic during testing - it's definitely got 4 screws now. Nice catch! I won't be beaten by this board - I do plan on unearthing it again this Spring to see if I can't iron out some of the issues. But Feipoa, I did NOT get write back working on the Intel DX4-100 (&EW) - only on the AMD DX4-100 (SV8B) chip. As far as the supposed memory interleaving, I did throw in that TAG ram but IIRC, I don't think the memory benchmarks improved to the point where I would say interleaving was working as expected on this Saturn II chipset.
Last edited by Artex on 2017-3-05 @ 16:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby meljor » 2017-3-05 @ 15:23

Artex wrote:
meljor wrote:Two years later, more matured and calmed down again :lol: : what's the final verdict on this board?

Still a pig... :)


That's too bad. I was so excited to finally find an Asus 486 pci board locally that i bought it anyway :lol:

Comes with a dx4 Amd and paid 30 euro's for it so it's ok. Hope it works. If it IS as fast or faster as my other boards (umc and sis 486 pci boards) i will let you know! :cool:
asus tx97-e, 233mmx, voodoo1, s3 virge ,sb16
asus p5a, k6-3+ @ 550mhz, voodoo2 12mb sli, gf2 gts, awe32
asus p3b-f, p3-700, voodoo3 3500TV agp, awe64
asus tusl2-c, p3-S 1,4ghz, voodoo5 5500, live!
asus a7n8x DL, barton cpu, 6800ultra, Voodoo3 pci, audigy1
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby feipoa » 2017-3-05 @ 21:58

Artex wrote:Thanks for the comments guys. I must have snapped that pic during testing - it's definitely got 4 screws now. Nice catch! I won't be beaten by this board - I do plan on unearthing it again this Spring to see if I can't iron out some of the issues. But Feipoa, I did NOT get write back working on the Intel DX4-100 (&EW) - only on the AMD DX4-100 (SV8B) chip. As far as the supposed memory interleaving, I did throw in that TAG ram but IIRC, I don't think the memory benchmarks improved to the point where I would say interleaving was working as expected on this Saturn II chipset.


Artex, what is the part number on your TAG RAM? Last I remember, you ordered the wrong TAG, or it didn't arrive. I could be mistaken. Maybe that was someone else...

If you did receive the correct TAG, could you share the results of cachechk, speedsys, and CPUMark99 (Windows9x) with and without the TAG installed for when the system is set to write-back L2 mode and for write-through mode? And is there a particular jumper configuration you need to use when the dirty TAG is installed? Ensure you have all 4 RAM slots filled and that you are using 256, double-banked L2 cache.

Could you provide an image of the BIOS? I'd like to see if there are some hidden chipset settings regarding the TAG bit. I'm surprised that I do not see any on the BIOS screen you provided.
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Re: Artex's Build of the Week: AMD DX4/100 SV8B WB (Write Back Enhanced)

Postby dosgamer » 2018-1-02 @ 01:25

Any updates? I have two SP3Gs and I'm planning on building a system with one as I recently got a hold of an AT case.

Strange that people here don't seem to like this board, back in the day it was considered to be one of the best 486 boards. It was reviewed favorably in the German computer magazine c't. But I guess most people didn't buy it for DOS gaming, but rather for running Linux and FreeBSD. This was a time when PCs became viable for running Unix-like systems. Before, the only alternative were super expensive Sun or DEC workstations. So the onboard SCSI was probably a big factor. Maybe it has some other features that makes it work well with multitasking operating systems? Reliability would be a huge factor.

Any info on how the deturbo works on the SP3G? How slow does it go and is it useful for games or does it mess things up? The board does have BIOS options to disable the internal and external cache.
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