First post, by luckybob
After a DECADE of searching, I think I might have my Holy Grail of computers. For those that do not know, I recently was contacted by a nice person from Russia with an offer I could not refuse. If he decides to share his identity, I will let him do so. I was offered an ASUS P/I-P65UP8 with C-PKND Pentium II daughter card. I got it in the mail just a few days ago now. I would swear it was delivered at least part way via dogsled, but it arrived safely and in working fashon! I also got a few other parts, all arrived in the last few days. I debated finishing the setup and posting that, but I felt it might be a bit more fun if I included all of you in the adventure.
First off, the star of the show; the ASUS P/I-P65UP8, it is the big brother of the ASUS P/I-P65UP5, and I mean that quite literally. The board is a FULL AT size board. I took a picture of the 8 next to the 5. The latter of which is a "normal" baby-at size. Really puts things into perspective. Both boards are fundamentally the same, at least at the core. Aside from the I960, and scsi the up8 is practically identical to the up5. Such is the wonder of the Intel 440fx chipset.
The major difference between this board and just about ANY other board, is the inclusion of the Intel I960 I/O processor. (the silver square) It is designed to offload work from the cpu and thus improve performance. Provided the device you plug into it is compatible. The processor was VERY popular. It was used on many multi-channel scsi cards for years. There is a jumper to disable the smart buffering and turn the device into a dumb pci-pci bridge, but that's not any fun! There are two 72-pin simm slots slightly to the right of the I960. These are for the cpu in smart mode and will buffer data and commands. I have been told, between compatible devices, data moving between pci devices on the i960 will in fact never touch the pci bus, nor the cpu! Naturally I'm going to have to test this, so stay tuned. Next to the 2 simms slots is an out of palce pci slot. This was used for some future upgrade of the I960 and I can't seem to find any information regarding its use.
You also might notice THREE scsi channels on the board. One is via Adaptec 7880 and a Symbios 53c876. I haven't done any sort of research on these chipsets as of yet. For the record, the Adaptec is on the 'normal' pci bus and the Symbios is connected to the I960. From what I've found out, the board cannot boot from any device on the I960 in smart mode. So it would seem that Asus included another scsi controller you can boot from. how nice! The onboard video chipset is an S3 trio64v2-tx or something. It is bog standard and is actually pretty nice to have on a "server" motherboard. As of this post, I did install another 2 chips of ram and it is upgraded to an earth-shattering 2mb! Everything else is standard fare. And for the record, the left 4 pci slots are under the I960 and the remaining 3 are normal.
I bought the up8 with an C-PKND daughter card designed for a pair of slot-1 Pentium 2 processors. Which are just fine! Everybody loves the Pentium 2! I just happen to like the pentium pro better. Asus designed these moterboards to be interchangeable. The C-P6ND daughtercard is interchangeable with the C-PKND. There also is a dual socket 7 card, but from what I read, the up8 doesn't support it. While some people would be happy with the Pentium 2 card, I am not. The P2 can only cache 512mb of ram. Also the P2's cache only runs at half speed of the cpu. That just will NOT do. So I pulled the p-pro card from my up5, flashed the bios and dropped in a pair of p-pro overdrives. For the record, in addition of swapping the cpu card, you have to swap the bios.
I had mentioned, the P2 can only cache 512mb of ram. And for 99.999% of the population, that would be fine. So I blew my retro-computing budget for the next 6 months and bought 10x 128mb 72-pin simms. 60ns EDO! Why 10? Because I can put the extra two into the I960 slots.
Nothing quite like having 1gb of ram in a dual-cpu system. With that problem solved, You might be asking; "but what about a case and power supply?" Well, I have that covered. I had bought a full-tower AT case several years ago, and it was getting NO use. I had my UP5 board inside but it was little more than a storage case. I did not have a full-at power supply. Something I rectified. As if by some stroke of luck, I found on ebay a PC Power & Cooling SIX HUNDRED WATT power supply. It was also NOS. (New Old Stock) It was shipped from Israel, and even included the origional tag, manual, and an advert describing PCP&C's others offerings. I won't be using the 3.3v rail on this setup, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over that. With 70A on the 5v rail, I feel pretty confident, if something goes wrong, I can at least use the PSU as a welder. 😜
So, this is where I stop writing for the night. The "plan" is to install NT4 on this beast. I'm going to play a array of games such as Fallout (and 2, maybe tactics), starcraft, diablo (and D2), maybe some Quake 3, and honestly anything else that strikes my fancy. I also intend to use a pair of Voodoo 2's. Mostly for Q3 and D2.
I will update this thread as I go, also answering any relevant questions. I would like some input about the video and sound department. At this time, I'm not going to use this system for any DOS games. I want to keep the scope to the games above. I will also run any sort of benchmark people want. I will test to see if the I960 is worth anything.
P.S. I will entertain any suggestions of a better name for this endeavour.
It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.