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3 (+3 more) retro battle stations

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Reply 140 of 156, by pshipkov

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@ekb - you are forgiven 😁

Here is what i got based on your pointers Andrew and EKB:
interposer.jpg
Red wire is pin B13, connected to +5V -> L1 WB enabled.
Yellow wire is pin R17, connected to GND -> 4x multiplier.

So i got the board running at 160MHz (4x40).
There was a bit of confusion initially. Apparently the BIOS can display maximum of 150MHz during POST, which confused me for a moment.
Even there is a bus divider option, 4x50 is a no-go, also there is no 60MHz option in the clock generator, so no dice for 3x60. Anyway.

Here is what SpeedSys reports for 4x40 and L1 WB.
fic_86-vip-io2_speedsys_160.png

CPU speed looks great, memory bandwidth is incorrect.
But i don't trust these synthetic tests 1 bit for a reason - they are more often than not misleading.

Running some real world game/apps tests show that 4x40MHz is quite slower than 3x50 on this motherboard. Didn't expect that.
Also, there is no measurable performance difference between L1 WT and WB. Didn't expect that either.

This FIC 86-VIP-IO2 motherboard is an oddball for sure.

Andrew, you said that you have similar board, wonder if you tried it at 3x50 ?
Did you observe the same performance advantage over 4x40 ?

retro bits and bytes

Reply 141 of 156, by Ekb

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on mobo 4DPS socket 3, there are undocumentary jumpers for 60 and 66 MHz. This is useful for Intel DX4 (60 * 2 = 120) or (66 * 2 = 133).
For AMD, 5x86 is practically irrelevant. Anyway, wait timings ruin the data bus speed (Cache or RAM).

I chose 50x3 = 150mhz AMD 5x86 for myself and made downvolting to 3.1 volts. To not get too hot. The drop in performance was 2-3%, but it's worth it to make the system quiet and not hot. No fans. 😉

Congratulations, everything turned out well 😀

Last edited by Ekb on 2021-02-07, 19:19. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 142 of 156, by AndrewK2685

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Nice one pshipkov!
I'd expect that for games, since these
extra MHz on FSB can make a difference (for GPU).
On CPU hungry apps though I'd expect the opposite.
Haven't tried the 50MHz FSB though
not sure my GPU can handle it, but i'll give it a go.

My Jetway also report it wrong (150MHz) but
every utility I tried gives correct numbers.
I guess the problem is with the Award Bios.
Also, another revision of it only reported L2 cache
either 256k or none, even when I installed 1mb l2 on it!!
So, do not always trust your bios.

Reply 143 of 156, by pshipkov

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Unidentified Opti-495SLC 3406 rev 1.1 - one of the last remaining 386 motherboards on my to-examine list.

Board is a looker with promising features:
- late/hybrid 386/486 chipset
- VLB slots
- 10 cache banks

Jumpers are scattered around and illogical to follow. Had to consistently check reference manual, which was annoying.

The main reason to examine this board was to see if i can strap on it a IBM BL3 CPU upgrade adaptor which refused to cooperate on bunch of other 386 motherboards. This OPTi chipset and its derivatives are quite compatible, so the hopes were high.
It kind of sort of worked, but was embarrassingly clunky.
Cancelled the whole thing shortly after and moved to drop-in Ti486SXL2 CPU.

That worked with ease. Used it for testing, despite a write access issue that often appears with these upgrade processors on some boards. Works fine with mechanical HDDs.

Expected to be able to run 386 class CPU at higher than specification speeds, but unfortunately the board hard prohibits it.
Set of jumpers differentiates between CPU classes.
Each class is associated with its own set of base frequencies.
The 386 one is limited to 40MHz.
Bummer.

Board is picky about SRAM chips, but not too picky.

BIOS is full of options. All of them were setup for best performance, except one - "fast decode" had to be turned-off.
Small exception for rendering tests. Had to adjust some settings, otherwise the system hangs.
Not a visible issue for gaming and casual computing. Standard stability tests like CheckIt, etc. are happy too.

Used Ark1000 VLB in DOS, S3 Trio64 VLB in Windows, DTC2278E VLB EIDE controller.

https://www.petershipkov.com/temp/retro_pc_im … opti-495slc.jpg
motherboard_386_opti-495slc.jpg

The usual stats:
386_opti-495slc_stats.png

386_opti-495slc_speedsys.png

And the usual tests.
Had to increase some of the BIOS timings to get through successful rendering tests:
DRAM read/write = 1 (from 0)
RAM timings = 3-1-1-1 (from 2-1-1-1)
Also, DOOM test stutters during disk access. Not sure why. Running smartdrive minimizes the impact a lot.
benchmarks_386_opti-495slc.png

All in all - decent motherboard.
Had high expectations. Potential is there, but the 40MHz limit for 386 class CPUs is a deal breaker. Too bad.
While nice piece of hardware, there are better options out there.

retro bits and bytes

Reply 144 of 156, by pshipkov

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A recent post by @mpe here reminded me of something i started before, but never finished properly - basically, try to find the best possible use of a slightly modified P24T (POD83) running at 100MHz.
The reason i left the job for later was the overall instability of the CPU with most Socket 3 motherboards.
Only few handled it properly. When it worked, performance significantly increased in several areas.

So, i replaced the 160MHz AMD processor with POD100 in one of the 486 PCs (showcased in this post) and gave it a quick spin with Quake 1. Shared the "achievement" in the same thread next to mpe's.

Here is the full story.

I applied @feipoa's mod to the CPU. With few small improvements.
Didn't cut the pin, but only unsoldered and bent it upwards, making sure it does not touch the heatsink.
Inserted a piece of insulator to form a bed for one of the diode legs.
Precisely bent the diode wires to fit exactly where i wanted them to be.
Used long and tin soldering hot end to ... well ... solder them in place, with minimal collateral damage.
Replaced the original fan with bigger one, otherwise the CPU can hang when running heavy computation tasks.
The original fan seems to be fine for DOS gaming and casual computing.
Basically, made sure that the mod is easily reversible.
Here is the result:
p24t-100.jpg

Tested with the next motherboards:
Abit PB4
Asus PVI-486SP3
Asus VLI-486SV2GX4
Biostar MB-8433UUD-A
LuckyStar-486EF
Hope i can obtain one day a PC-Chips M918i, looks like a good performer.

VLI and 8433UUD worked best.
PB4 and LS were flaky, but i think that can be improved on. Now when i am back at it, will spend some time over the weekend and if successful - will update the post.
PVI was disappointing - barely worked before, i know it won't work now too. Not going to bother with it.

Here is how Asus VLI looked like in speedsys with all settings on max:
486_asus_vli-486sv2gx4_pod100_speedsys.png
L1 cache runs in WT mode. It can be switched to WB, but the system becomes unstable.
I remember running it stably in WB before, but not anymore. At least i have this memory of Quake 1 busting 27.1 fps, but now i am starting to doubt myself. Maybe it was WT really, but the Quake version was 1.08 instead of the 1.06 that comes with Phil's benchmarks package.
1.08 has slightly better performance - that was probably it.
Also, swapped the trusted DRC2278E EIDE controller with Holtek.
The Holtek one had issues with write access to SanDisk Ultra CF cards. Switched to Transcend 133 - works like a charm. Delivers 1Mb/s more than DTC.
The video below shows the DTC one. The change was made after that.

And how 8433UUD looked like:
486_biostar_uud_pod100_speedsys.png
L1 cache in WB mode !
L2 cache is disabled.
When enabled, the system becomes unstable, unless L2 Cache Wait States is set to 3-1-1-1, which turns-out to be actually slower than no cache. Curious.
Verified this very carefully, to make sure i am not missing something here.
Also, once L2 cache is off - the system is just rock stable - ticks fast and well.
All other settings are on max, except IBC DEVSEL# DECODING which had to be set to "medium" (down from "fast"), otherwise IDE controller does not recognize the CF card.

The standard set of benchmarks with VLI + Ark1000VL and 8433UUD + Matrox Millennium and POD100 / 486DX5-160 CPUs, hope to succeed to stabilize Abit PB4 and LuckyStar-486EF, so they can be included as well for better sampling:
benchmarks_pod100.png
Anything that requires floating point math benefits from the POD100 CPU, otherwise AMD DX5 clocked at 160MHz comes ahead.
8433UUD + Matrox is quite ahead in Windows, obviously. Matrox cards are way faster in Win GUI than anything else released in the mid 90ies.
The system lags behind in DOS. Tested with Ark2000PV and S3 Trio64V2/DX in addition to the MGA. Ark was slightly better in Wolf3D - like +0.3 fps and did quite better in PC Player Benchmark (+11 fps @640x480), but was slower in Windows and showed same perf in Quake, Doom, etc. S3 Trio was similar. So showing the MGA numbers here.
Notice that Asus VLI failed the LightWave3D test. This test is extremely sensitive to system instabilities. It catches many things that are often missed by the "traditional" ones. The issue in this case is related to the L1 cache. If disabled - all is well, but then performance is terrible.
For now, i am willing to let it slide, since everything else seems to function perfectly fine and also - this is predominantly a DOS machine, but i am very strict on myself when it comes to stability, so i will be coming back to it. Things must be completely stable - one way or another. 😀

Quake 1 running on VLI + POD100 + Ark1000VL = 25.7 fps. Pretty good.
asus_vli-486sv2gx4_pod100_quake1.jpg

And here is a quick Q1-PCPBench-3DS-SpeedSys roll with the VLI board:
https://www.petershipkov.com/temp/retro_pc_im … 2gx4_pod100.mp4

While i prefer non-hybrid systems, POD100 will probably stay in the VLI based PC, for extra flavor. Seems to be a good fit.
But if the other two boards that remain to be properly examined outdo it, they may end-up in the PC case instead.

EDIT:
Decided to modify a second P24T to see if the processor i used until now is faulty in some way, given the instability with LW3D on VLI.
All aspects matched between the two CPUs, so the issue seems to be on the motherboard side.
Btw, this mod turned pretty tidy. Satisfied with the result.
p24t-100_2.jpg

Finally - both P24T CPUs didn't boot at 50MHz base frequency in any of the motherboards.

Last edited by pshipkov on 2021-02-26, 09:23. Edited 1 time in total.

retro bits and bytes

Reply 145 of 156, by pshipkov

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Edom International Corporation 486VL3 (MP032F ?) based on OPTi 82C895/82C822/82C602 chipset.

Checked this board a while ago.
Cannot remember details anymore.
Going by the few notes i kept.

Notice how the VRM is (not) integrated in the PCB.
Very flimsy. Broke it twice by just tweaking the jumpers next to it.
Had to spend time to fix that.
Legs were already short and couldn't be soldered well enough, so sanded the bottom of the package carefully - effectively increasing the length of the legs which allowed me to solder them properly.
With that problem out of the way it was business as usual.

Board didn't want to run the AMD DX5 CPU at 4x40Mhz, so used the simple interposer from few posts above to force that behavior.
160MHz worked fine, but L1 cache refused to operate in WB mode.
Tested with 72pin SIMMs only.
Mr.BIOS on board - does not seem to offer anything special.
System was stable with all settings on max. Two exceptions below.

https://www.petershipkov.com/temp/retro_pc_im … _eic_486vl3.jpg
motherboard_486_eic_486vl3.jpg

The usual set of stats. For some reason Comptest hangs.
Used DTC2278E EIDE VLB.
486_eic_486vl3_stats.png

486_eic_486vl3_speedsys.png

And the standard benchmarks.
Btw, just realized that for some reason i used numbers based on S3 Trio64 VLB for the Asus VLI board, instead of the faster Ark1000VL. May revisit at some point later.
benchmarks_486_eic_486vl3.png

Favors VLB in DOS graphics - performance is pretty good. The best Wolf3D numbers with 160MHz CPU so far !
Failed the Doom test. Increased wait states didn't help. Looks like specific incompatibility with the Ark1000VL video card. Tested with two more VLB VGAs - S3 Tro64 and WD90C33-ZZ - worked fine. Didn't investigate in depth if there is a bigger VLB VGA compatibility issues, didn't feel that way.
Favors PCI in accelerated Windows graphics - performance is top notch. On par with some of the best 486 boards out there.
Computation tests are contradicting. Disappointing results in 3DS (DOS), but pretty good in LW3D (Windows).

Most OPTi based motherboards (well, at least the ones i had the chance to try so far) show mediocre performance, but this implementation is pretty good.
Board may look like your average citizen, but there is strength within. 😀

retro bits and bytes

Reply 146 of 156, by pshipkov

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Not far ago in this post i talked about assembling a top-notch dual slot1/2 Pentium 3 based graphics workstation from year 2000-2001, using standard ATX/AGP motherboards.
That post is big and perhaps hard to follow. It was even bigger initially and completely out of hand, so trimmed it down to focus on 3 candidates only.
I already completed the PC and it is a done deal (will share the end result later), but figured it will be good to post the collected information for 3 more of the examined motherboards - one OR840 and two OR820.
Here is the first one:

---

Intel OR840 - IBM Intellistation M Pro (Type 6868), in mint condition

Majority of the computer hardware i have seen from companies like IBM, HP, Dell, Compaq, etc. tend to be too customized, restricted and quirky for my taste, so i avoid it in general, but this particular motherboard is pretty much vanilla Intel implementation with good IBM BIOS (updated to the latest version).
It lacks the magic touch of the Taiwanese manufacturers, which means limited/no options for tweaking and overclocking.
Requires custom PSU, which is inconvenient.
But other than that it checked all boxes, for me at least, so it was considered as a contender.

Clock generator is ICS9250BF-12, limited to 133MHz, so no dice for overclocking.
Boot times are a bit on the long side, but still within the reasonable limit.

IBM fully populated it with chips and other gear, compared to the Intel version. Integrated LAN, Sound and so on.
Swapped the coin cell battery socket. It was of non-standard type. The battery was less of a coin, but more of a satellite dish size and completely depleted. Soldered a standard one.
Also, added couple of jumpers that were missing in favor of proprietary IBM front panel.

Hit an interesting issue initially - boot process was unstable in a completely random way. 8 out of 10 tries led to no POST.
At some point i noticed few wrong text symbols in the BIOS settings. This hinted at a memory issue.
Until then, trusted 4x128Mb RIMMs were used. Switched to 4x512Mb 32ns ones - instant success.

motherboard_or840.jpg

Used these memory sticks at the end - 2Gb of RAM.
There is nothing special about them really.
The board handled well any 256/512 Mb RIMM modules i threw at it.
ram_rimm.jpg

Initial tests were performed with P3 Coppermine 1000/256/133. All was good.
Replaced with Tualatins 1400/512/133 in Asus slotkets for the actual test cycle.
Silence. Not good.
Long story short - the widely praised Asus S370-DL rev. 1.02 slotkets just don't work with this board.
I am willing to pin it on the board itself, since they work in any other one i inserted them so far.
Bummer.
Ok.
I was already reaching for the soldering iron and considering which of the available slotkets should go "under the knife" in an attempt to make things work with the Tulies, but then i decided to first test things with the Coppermines and see how 840 fairs against Asus P2B-D which already emerged at the time as the front runner. If OR840 turned out to be a better deal than BX440, i would spend the time to find a way to upgrade it to Tualatins, otherwise - why bother.

So, here is what SpeedSys said.
Notice the impressive disk metrics.
speedsys_or840_1000_133.png

Used the same NT4 installation outlined in the initial post that I linked above.
Tested with Quadro2 Pro and Quadro FX4000.
Quadro2 Pro seems to be the best overall period correct pro-grade graphics card from the entire pack (again - as outlined in the initial post).
Quadro FX4000 (GeForce 6800 Ultra) is the latest and greatest GPU that can run on these motherboards - to check the upper limit.
Compared with Asus P2B-D and the same dual Coppermine Pentium 3 1000/256/133 CPUs.
Both boards running at 133MHz FSB 33MHz PCI.
Also, included numbers of P2B-D running at 140/150MHz FSB with Tualatins, as a reference for peak performance.
And one last note - one of the rendering tests hangs. Kind of strange, because the board is rock stable otherwise.
benchmarks_or840_bx440.png

It is obvious that Asus's implementation of BX440 is clock-to-clock faster than OR840 and can overclock on top of that, which further increases the performance gap between the two.
At that point i kind of lost interest in trying Tualatins on the IBM board.
It just didn't stand a chance.

Otherwise, this is really great piece of hardware. Solid, stable and just works.
If i was not on a journey for best compute/graphics performance, i would probably go for this one from everything i tested.

---

Quick test run:
https://www.petershipkov.com/temp/retro_pc_im … est_run_133.mp4

retro bits and bytes

Reply 147 of 156, by feipoa

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pshipkov wrote on 2021-02-18, 21:30:
I applied @feipoa's mod to the CPU. With few small improvements. Didn't cut the pin, but only unsoldered and bent it upwards, ma […]
Show full quote

I applied @feipoa's mod to the CPU. With few small improvements.
Didn't cut the pin, but only unsoldered and bent it upwards, making sure it does not touch the heatsink.
Inserted a piece of insulator to form a bed for one of the diode legs.
Precisely bent the diode wires to fit exactly where i wanted them to be.
Used long and tin soldering hot end to ..Modifying the POD83's voltage regulator for overclocking. well ... solder them in place, with minimal collateral damage.

That is one very clean looking mod! Are you able to post your photo in the POD mod thread so others who stumble upon the thread can see how slick this hack can look? Modifying the POD83's voltage regulator for overclocking

pshipkov wrote on 2021-02-18, 21:30:
L1 cache in WB mode ! L2 cache is disabled. When enabled, the system becomes unstable, unless L2 Cache Wait States is set to 3-1 […]
Show full quote

L1 cache in WB mode !
L2 cache is disabled.
When enabled, the system becomes unstable, unless L2 Cache Wait States is set to 3-1-1-1, which turns-out to be actually slower than no cache. Curious.
Verified this very carefully, to make sure i am not missing something here.

Also, once L2 cache is off - the system is just rock stable - ticks fast and well.
All other settings are on max, except IBC DEVSEL# DECODING which had to be set to "medium" (down from "fast"), otherwise IDE controller does not recognize the CF card.[/quote]
You should be able to run the POD83 at 100 MHz just fine with L1-WB and L2 enabled. I used to have a setup with the MB-8433 and the POD-100 and GF2 and ran 3D games for hours without issue. Did you poke through the manual I wrote for this board? You need to ensure that you are using 256K of L2 cache double-banked. Do not use single-banked cache on this board with running a 40 MHz FSB and L2 set to 2-1-1-1. Also, it is best not to use the onboard IDE port. Ensure L2, if in WB mode, is set to TAG/ALTER BIT to 7+1. Or if WT mode, 8+0.

Last edited by Stiletto on 2021-03-07, 09:43. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 148 of 156, by pshipkov

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Shared the pictures there.

Read quite a few things about this board.
Where is the manual you got ?

The two boards i have behave similarly, so it is not a bad PCB at play, unless both are bad, but i doubt it.
512Kb is a no-go unless some hardware mods are applied. I think you shown that in a post around here (for 1024Kb).
I use 256Kb SRAM (8 chips).
Tried many different sets - IS61C256A, IS61C256AH, UM61256K, UM61256AK, UM612562CK, UM61256FK, UM61512AK, WB, GMC6512, TC55328P, WinBond, Mosel Vitelic, (exact chip designation escapes me right now), and so on.

With both 486@160MHz and POD100 CPUs the boards actually work really well - games from the era, DOS and Windows common tasks - all good.
I see instabilities only when the system is pushed hard - these are use cases that few people encounter, or care about.
Willing to attribute it to my "complete stability" disorder. 😀

Which cache chips you recommend based on your experience ?
BIOS settings here are 7+1 for WB, as you wrote.

retro bits and bytes

Reply 151 of 156, by feipoa

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The ver:2 manual I wrote is here:
http://www.vogonsdrivers.com/getfile.php?fileid=946
BIOS settings should be noted in the back of that manual. I do need to update the manual to include some more detail on the cache mod, but I'm concerned that I never will have time. My home life is a mess. I'd like to document how to make the board jumperable for 512K and 1024K double-banked with user removable jumpers before I die. I've already done this on one of my boards.

Could you document the reproducible steps which cause the instability? I've never had my POD100 crash on the MB-8433UUD with 2-1-1-1. Are you using EDO memory? Do not use EDO. Please try a single stick of 32 MB FPM (if L2-WB) or a single stick of 64 MB (if L2-WT). And please use a PCI controller card, like SATA a Promise TX2Plus. I remember having issues with hard drives on the built-in IDE controller when I was using 40 MHz at 2-1-1-1.

Ultimate 486 Benchmark | Ultimate 686 Benchmark | Cyrix 5x86 Enhancements | 486 Overkill Graphics | Worlds Fastest 486

Reply 152 of 156, by pshipkov

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@Chadti99
This seems to be the highest Quake1 score on a socket 3 system that I have seen around.
Keep in mind that the computer runs with full gear and everything.
Cache size is 1024kb. See speedsys screenshot above. On page 6 i believe is a post with details about the PC setup.
Quake's screen resolution is the default one - 320x200, as it comes with Phill's benchmark package.

@feipoa
That IS detailed.
Thank you.

Ok, I was going to run few 486 boards with pod100 in the coming days, anyway.
Will spend the necessary time on the UUD one. Hope I make it work.

Will send you some stuff and instructions how to run the tests.
It will be really interesting to me if they pass on your setup.

retro bits and bytes

Reply 155 of 156, by feipoa

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What version of the MB-8433UUD are you using? I've had better luck with the later v2 (9620+ datecodes on chipsets), v3, and v3.1 boads. Ensure your cache isn't mixed mode. And use a PCI HDD controller card and no CF. I've had issues with CF on this board, but I don't recall all the particulars anymore. Also document the exact failure modes and I'll see if I can find some time [and space!] to reproduce them, likely after the 5 Linux systems are setup. 2 down, 3 to go.

Ultimate 486 Benchmark | Ultimate 686 Benchmark | Cyrix 5x86 Enhancements | 486 Overkill Graphics | Worlds Fastest 486

Reply 156 of 156, by pshipkov

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picture

great tip about the ide controller. forgot to comment on that in previous post.
i have a note here to look for drivers for the integrated on but will use external as you suggested.
so far it was solid with any Hdds and CFs, but if you experienced problems with it before i may be hitting hidden issues there as well.

retro bits and bytes