Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

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Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby SavantStrike » 2011-5-13 @ 15:30

So I've seen threads where a lucky few have unlocked pentium III chips and use them for vintage DOS gaming goodness by dropping the multipliers to insanely low numbers.

Then I got brainy when I saw Tetrium talking about the Via C3 chips in another thread. Some of them are unlocked from the factory (the earlier ones are, 600 or 700mhz plus are often locked).

What about getting an early C3 and running it at around a 1x multiplier, especially on a slotket residing in a 440BX based motherboard (guaranteed ISA slots, and 440BX hotness). Seeing as they're already not as fast as a PIII clock for clock, it might be possible to get that thing to run really slowly, especially if there's a way to disable the cache (is there)?

Such a system should be capable of running all but the oldest of old games. If the cache can be disabled, I would imagine it might even get as slow as a Pentium 1 without cache.
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 15:31

Oh man, I've just done some browsing about the Nehemiah and closed a window that explained how the Nehemiah multi could be unlocked (max multi was 12x).

I'll go look it up again...

Edit:1 search, 1st result, thank god, LOL
http://ixbtlabs.com/articles2/roundupmo ... emiah.html

Iirc it was the earlier ones that were unlocked. I'm in the middle of testing all my s370 boards and want to go and test the C3 CPU's I have laying around.

If I'm done, I'll report back here ;)
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby DosFreak » 2011-5-13 @ 15:39

SavantStrike wrote:Such a system should be capable of running all but the oldest of old games. If the cache can be disabled, I would imagine it might even get as slow as a Pentium 1 without cache.


Plan sounds good except for the Cyrix part.
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby SavantStrike » 2011-5-13 @ 16:01

Tetrium wrote:Oh man, I've just done some browsing about the Nehemiah and closed a window that explained how the Nehemiah multi could be unlocked (max multi was 12x).

I'll go look it up again...

Edit:1 search, 1st result, thank god, LOL
http://ixbtlabs.com/articles2/roundupmo ... emiah.html

Iirc it was the earlier ones that were unlocked. I'm in the middle of testing all my s370 boards and want to go and test the C3 CPU's I have laying around.

If I'm done, I'll report back here ;)



Nice!

I hope it turns out well. If you've got non ezra C3 chips, make sure to hold on to them too. I can't find any. Apparently no one wanted the C3 chips when they were out :happyhappy:.

I love the idea of a C3 for vintage gaming though for some reason. It's a unique set up.


As for the multiplier unlocks, I wonder if that goes in the other direction. Access to multipliers of 1x, 1.5x, and 2x would be ideal.
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby swaaye » 2011-5-13 @ 16:47

A Cyrix chip might be trouble. Some programs and drivers needed special 6x86 patches for whatever reason. I'm not sure if the later Cyrix chips did away with that kind of thing.

It is always iffy to go with a lesser known product because they don't get the same level of validation from software developers. For example, I worked on a box with a VIA C5 inside once and printer drivers refused to install because they thought the CPU was too slow (the CPU wasn't recognized by the install app).
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 19:06

SavantStrike wrote:
Tetrium wrote:Oh man, I've just done some browsing about the Nehemiah and closed a window that explained how the Nehemiah multi could be unlocked (max multi was 12x).

I'll go look it up again...

Edit:1 search, 1st result, thank god, LOL
http://ixbtlabs.com/articles2/roundupmo ... emiah.html

Iirc it was the earlier ones that were unlocked. I'm in the middle of testing all my s370 boards and want to go and test the C3 CPU's I have laying around.

If I'm done, I'll report back here ;)



Nice!

I hope it turns out well. If you've got non ezra C3 chips, make sure to hold on to them too. I can't find any. Apparently no one wanted the C3 chips when they were out :happyhappy:.

I love the idea of a C3 for vintage gaming though for some reason. It's a unique set up.


As for the multiplier unlocks, I wonder if that goes in the other direction. Access to multipliers of 1x, 1.5x, and 2x would be ideal.

I'm done with the testing! :D

And actually, of the 6 chips I own, none appear to be Ezra.
The chips are:
VIA Cyrix III 550 (5.5x100) 2.0v (Samuel?)
VIA C3 700 (7x100) 2.0v (Samuel?)
VIA C3 866 (Nehemiah?)
VIA C3 1000 (Probably Nehemiah)
VIA C3 1000 (Probably Nehemiah)
VIA C3 1200 (Can't be anything but a Nehemiah)

I tested using an ASUS CUSL2 with one of the newer BIOS versions (I think it was 1009?).
First I set everything to it's lowest (66Mhz "FSB" and 100Mhz Memory Bus (The 815 started having it's busses separated)), then tested with a known good P3 733 with a copper cooler without thermal paste (I'm low on paper towels ahem).
Then I tried the Cyrix III, but it gave no screen and then the "overheating" beepcode, no good.
Perhaps the board didn't support PPGA Celerons (which also require 2.0v), so I continued only with the lower voltage >866 chips as I'd rather not fry the board. Edit2: Reading the online manual it appears the CUSL2 supports PPGA Celerons just fine, so will try out the 700Mhz C3 when I continue testing again. Hopefully it's multiplier can be chanced

The other 4 chips posted alright, but were recognized as a Pentium II, lol
Alas, those 4 had their multi's locked, but according to the article I found earlier today they should be unlockable.
Another encouraging thing was that the 1.2Ghz part had, according to the BIOS, a 16x multi, even though it was running at it's normal 9x multi, and that kinda affirms the story written in that article.

I also got my power reader thingy and brought it to my attic, I'll test later how the C3's power consumption is ;)

Edit: I forgot to mention, even though the BIOS didn't recognize the C3's correctly, the board did supply the correct voltage!
Last edited by Tetrium on 2011-5-13 @ 19:54, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 19:11

swaaye wrote:A Cyrix chip might be trouble. Some programs and drivers needed special 6x86 patches for whatever reason. I'm not sure if the later Cyrix chips did away with that kind of thing.

It is always iffy to go with a lesser known product because they don't get the same level of validation from software developers. For example, I worked on a box with a VIA C5 inside once and printer drivers refused to install because they thought the CPU was too slow (the CPU wasn't recognized by the install app).

This afternoon I read several threads and articles stating the early C3's did in fact have somekind of trouble with some programs. Part of it is explained on a MicroSoft page and appears to be of relevance only to NT, not to 9x.

I'll post the link here if I find it again.


But then again, every piece of hardware has somekind of issues. It's just that the one may have (MANY!) more problems then another one :P

Of course the C3 had very poor performance compared to the Intel s370 chips, but otoh, on my mind is building a rig around a Nehemiah and then kinda set the rest up as if it's a Super 7 rig, except it would be much easier to set up (no jumpers etc) and with a motherboard with more modern features ;)
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby swaaye » 2011-5-13 @ 19:59

Page through this Google search for a bit. :D
http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy&hl=e ... 393480168f
(I see patches for several games and special drivers)

Yeah the performance and the possible issues really make me wonder why it would be worth bothering with a Cyrix chip. Other than for curiosity's sake.
Last edited by swaaye on 2011-5-13 @ 20:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 20:06

My knowledge of these chips is little, but I do know the Nehemiah apparently has some of the bugs fixed.

Btw, most of the links you posted appear to be either unrelated, or are fixes for the Cyrix MII. The VIA C3 is actually based on the Winchip and has nothing to do with Cyrix. VIA only called it the Cyrix because of it's good name (L O L :P).
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby swaaye » 2011-5-13 @ 20:07

Oh yeah for some reason I got caught up on the 6x86 and MII.

But I see even less reason for a VIA C3! :D
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 20:18

swaaye wrote:Oh yeah for some reason I got caught up on the 6x86 and MII.

But I see even less reason for a VIA C3! :D


But wait! Theres more!!

With the C3 you can finally get Super Socket 7 performance without having all the troubles with setting voltage and having to deal with crappy AGP implementation.
And theres more! It will actually work on an Intel chipset! Stability! (if you don't take into account the C3's bugs of which I know very little, but am not really worried about anyway :P)

Even if it has bugs, it's probably related to for that time new features. Building it as somekind of Super 7-ish rig will probably circumvent those problems as it'll run older code mostly...at least that's the hypothesis :P


Edit:And theres 1 more advantage the C3 has over Coppermine. It's just darnedly looks so much better!

Just compare this boring pale piece of green plastic to this golden beauty! :D


Edit2:And the advantages just keep on coming, yeah, haha!

I tested using the CUSL2, a motherboard that doesn't support Tualatin.
This means the fastest chip it normally supports is either the P3-1000 (good luck finding the 1133 part) or the Celeron Coppermine 1100.
But!...this board works perfectly fine with a 1.2Ghz Nehemiah!
Yup, VIA C3 is the fastest clocked CPU supported by boards that won't work with Tualatin!!11 :D :P
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby swaaye » 2011-5-13 @ 20:40

My god you're right. Forget Coppermine and gimme the C3. I'm gonna do a bulk order right away!!!

I'm gonna throw away my Slot T and PIII-S as well!!!!!!



Especially want one that comes in the original retail tin!!
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 20:47

But wait! Theres more!

Yes, it's unbelievable Mik...I mean Swaaye!

The C3 also is able to have it's multiplier changed by means of software!!1
No more fiddling around with those awkward user-unfriendly BIOS thingies, just let teh program do all the hard stuff for you!!1 :P


Lol, I forgotten about the cookie jar!
I remember my Razer Boomslang mouse came in one, still have it laying around somewhere, I think


Edit:On a more serious note, I did find a document here(It's on page 3-9) with some tech stuff about the Nehemiah. The lowest mentioned multi is 3x...not bad!

Edit2:Page 5-2 has the pinout, and the rest of the details are mentioned elsewhere in the document. I'm still reading the rest of it as I post lol

Edit3:Now this is interesting, the multi seems to be changeable on the fly by software :)
http://www.mini-itx.com/hardware/overclocking/
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby SavantStrike » 2011-5-13 @ 21:03

Tetrium wrote:But wait! Theres more!

Yes, it's unbelievable Mik...I mean Swaaye!

The C3 also is able to have it's multiplier changed by means of software!!1
No more fiddling around with those awkward user-unfriendly BIOS thingies, just let teh program do all the hard stuff for you!!1 :P


Lol, I forgotten about the cookie jar!
I remember my Razer Boomslang mouse came in one, still have it laying around somewhere, I think


Edit:On a more serious note, I did find a document here(It's on page 3-9) with some tech stuff about the Nehemiah. The lowest mentioned multi is 3x...not bad!



Awww :(

233mhz. I was hoping for something in the range of 66-133 mhz.
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 21:12

SavantStrike wrote:Awww :(

233mhz. I was hoping for something in the range of 66-133 mhz.

But otoh, it does allow for a wide selection of different multipliers, much wider then the unlocked Deschutes ;)
And I reckon it's performance will be like a P1 133Mhz when running at 266Mhz anyway :P

Edit: The Samuels and Ezra's had an FPU that ran at only half the CPU speed, so it might still be a feasible underclocker ;)
And btw, 3x66Mhz is still only 200Mhz ;)
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby SavantStrike » 2011-5-13 @ 21:36

Tetrium wrote:But otoh, it does allow for a wide selection of different multipliers, much wider then the unlocked Deschutes ;)
And I reckon it's performance will be like a P1 133Mhz when running at 266Mhz anyway :P

Edit: The Samuels and Ezra's had an FPU that ran at only half the CPU speed, so it might still be a feasible underclocker ;)
And btw, 3x66Mhz is still only 200Mhz ;)


Err... you're right. It's 200mhz. IDK though, unless it's absolutely terrible, I would say it should be as fast as an equivalently clocked Pentium. It does have 128kb of cache after all.

Although, FPU at 1/2 cpu speed. Now that sounds promisingly bad :happyhappy:.
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 22:10

SavantStrike wrote:Err... you're right. It's 200mhz. IDK though, unless it's absolutely terrible, I would say it should be as fast as an equivalently clocked Pentium. It does have 128kb of cache after all.

Although, FPU at 1/2 cpu speed. Now that sounds promisingly bad :happyhappy:.

You're right about it's 128kb cache. And only Samuel and Ezra had the FPU at half speed. The Nehemiah had it at full speed.
But for underclocking, having the FPU at half speed, wouldn't that be an advantage?
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-13 @ 22:42

I went up to the attic to test the 700 and retest the 550. The 700 only gave continuous short beeps (even though I know the CPU posted before, might've been something else, I'll look into it tomorrow) and the 550 did the same thing: Long beeps *high, low, high, low* which usually means CPU overheating, or just a defective CPU.

Oh well, at least I got 4 working ones, but for tomorrow, it's Super Socket 7 time! :D
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby SavantStrike » 2011-5-13 @ 23:55

Tetrium wrote:
SavantStrike wrote:Err... you're right. It's 200mhz. IDK though, unless it's absolutely terrible, I would say it should be as fast as an equivalently clocked Pentium. It does have 128kb of cache after all.

Although, FPU at 1/2 cpu speed. Now that sounds promisingly bad :happyhappy:.

You're right about it's 128kb cache. And only Samuel and Ezra had the FPU at half speed. The Nehemiah had it at full speed.
But for underclocking, having the FPU at half speed, wouldn't that be an advantage?


Yes, half speed is good, hence why I said promisingly bad. Slow is good in this case :).

Where did you get your hands on so many Via chips though? I never saw a single one in the wild...
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Re: Cyrix III (i.e. VIA C3) for vintage gaming?

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-14 @ 00:04

The 700 was a lucky find. At work my boss (who frankly is a SOB) tested this CPU in a Slot 1 board with an adapter, found it wouldn't post and then gave it to me. Later I found it would post in a Socket 370 BX board I think.
The other 5 I got from here and there, but I reckon I got most from cpu-world.com.

They aren't common but they do pop up from time to time.
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