VOGONS


First post, by Jupiter-18

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During my research on retro systems, I discovered a 486 CPU that seems a bit rare and very interesting! The IBM 486BL. Apparently it was developed by IBM to be a high-performance 486, but due to the licensing contract from Intel, they could only sell it as an integrated CPU on a motherboard, as was often the case in the 286-486 era. According to the Redhill CPU Guide, it was a really high performance 486, despite running at an external 25MHz (75MHz internal). It had a full 32-bit bus width, featured 16kb L1 cache, and the boards it was used on had a full 32-bit VLB I/O, onboard 16550 UART high-speed modem, and a high-speed 32-bit HDD controller. They also used 72-pin SIMMS in 4MB or 16MB sticks. I've really become interested in finding one, but I have no idea what boards it was used on. Can anyone help me with this? It came out in 1993, so what GPU would I want to use? With VLB in mind, I'd probably go for the old ET4000, but were there other options?

Reply 3 of 28, by Anonymous Coward

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I believe you mean, it was a really high performance 386.

You're not going to have a terribly easy time finding one. The only system I am aware of that came with one was the IBM PS/1000 (in DLC2-66 flavour). I believe it was also used in the PS/2 Model 57 Ultimedia, but it was gimped down to a 16-bit bus. The Alaris (IBM) Cougar motherboard is probably the easiest way of getting a hold of one. It's the only standard baby AT sized board I am aware of that has one. Manufacturers such as Kingston and Evergreen also made CPU upgrade modules with the 486BL, but they are extremely rare and expensive.

You are probably more likely to run into the 486SLC2 which is the 16-bit equivalent of the 486BL, which is easiest to find on the Alaris Leopard motherboard and certain Thinkpads.

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 5 of 28, by feipoa

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it is a pain in the butt of a CPU to upgrade with.

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

Reply 7 of 28, by B24Fox

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I have borrowed an old working complete system (built in the 90s) that is running the 486BL at 100MHZ.
The CPU is soldered on a PCB, that is plugged into the socket. Has a black heatsink glued to it.
The motherboard has "Tornado LX rev. D2" written on it, and it has a "EFAR EC802GL" chipset. (the "L" at the end is small.. Not lower case. Just smaller.)
Seems to be also known as "LEOPARD VX", and is made by: ALARIS Inc.

And it looks like this:
https://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/A/A … -LX-REV-D2.html
https://pcrebuilding.altervista.org/49/ ... )+486.html

Hope this proves useful to someone, even if it's almost 4 years late 😜

Reply 8 of 28, by amadeus777999

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Nice system - I first took notice of the Blue Lightning when skimming through the manual of "Mortal Kombat II" that stated that there could be incompatibilities with said cpu.

Would like to see how it performs in Doom.

Reply 9 of 28, by B24Fox

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amadeus777999 wrote on 2020-10-30, 18:31:

Nice system - I first took notice of the Blue Lightning when skimming through the manual of "Mortal Kombat II" that stated that there could be incompatibilities with said cpu.

Would like to see how it performs in Doom.

Well then, good news! Today I bought the system; so a benchmark might be coming real soon 😀

Reply 10 of 28, by Anonymous Coward

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B24Fox wrote on 2020-10-30, 02:13:

I have borrowed an old working complete system (built in the 90s) that is running the 486BL at 100MHZ.
The CPU is soldered on a PCB, that is plugged into the socket. Has a black heatsink glued to it.

Are you able to show us a picture of this CPU?

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 12 of 28, by feipoa

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Normally the BL3 had a small heatsink glued onto it.

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

Reply 13 of 28, by amadeus777999

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B24Fox wrote on 2020-10-30, 22:04:
amadeus777999 wrote on 2020-10-30, 18:31:

Nice system - I first took notice of the Blue Lightning when skimming through the manual of "Mortal Kombat II" that stated that there could be incompatibilities with said cpu.

Would like to see how it performs in Doom.

Well then, good news! Today I bought the system; so a benchmark might be coming real soon 😀

Looking forward to it!

Reply 14 of 28, by B24Fox

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Here are the pictures.

Also, when starting the PC, the CPU is identified as 486BL at 100.*something* Mhz ..
IIRC it's 100.1 or 100.7..

Didn't have time to set it up again for a bootup.

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Reply 15 of 28, by B24Fox

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Some close-ups:
(you can definetely see the IIT Math CoProc.)

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Reply 16 of 28, by Anonymous Coward

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Now THAT is weird. I have never seen anything like it before. I wonder if it just works with this board or if it can function in any board with a normal 486 socket.

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 17 of 28, by B24Fox

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I'm inclined to think that this board is somewhat special.
1st of all, the bios is unlike any other 486 board i've ever seen (& i've seen a few). (It resembles the bios form a P4 Dell Latitude Laptop i've seen.) Everything is broken down into neat categories. And you scroll through the "pages", from left to right.. And at a certain point it says "More..." and you have to press on it to see the rest of the pages that are hidden to the right. The background is a very nice dark greenish- BLUE.
2nd.. it has support for 4 Floppys!!
3rd, it only has (what look to be) solid polymer capacitors. No electrolytics. Which is kind of in tune with the whole "top of the line, quality" that IBM was said to have been going for, with these pre-built machines.

Last edited by B24Fox on 2020-11-02, 13:48. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 18 of 28, by B24Fox

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Oh, and on the STASON.org website, it says that the board's bios is "ALARIS".
And on the PCB that the CPU is soldered on, there is also "ALARIS" written on it.
So I think that the mobo and the CPU were definitely made for each other.