Pimp my 386.

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby Robin4 » 2017-12-06 @ 03:39

feipoa wrote:You may also want to contact the poster of this thread, lazibayer, https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=42290
He seems to have the MS-3124 and its BIOS. If he can image it, you can put it onto an EEPROM.

EDIT: Already looked at the oldest MSI website on wayback, but the oldest board BIOSes they have on there are for socket 3, 486.
https://web.archive.org/web/19970329193 ... com.tw:80/



I never have seen back in the days that manufacturers drop Bios files for 386 motherboard online..
The bios service got online with 486 motherboard, and not every brand did this. But it came popular with socket 5 and socket 7 motherboards.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby feipoa » 2017-12-09 @ 00:28

xjas: Did that Symphony BIOS workout?
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby xjas » 2017-12-09 @ 01:31

^^ Haven't tried it yet, I'm still trying to get those keyboard controllers. I don't want to pull apart the cacheless wonder as I have it set up & am using it at the moment. (The new ET4000 helped a lot.)
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2017-12-09 @ 09:15

The chipset on the original motherboard is from "Solutions". It is not partially a UMC chipset. That extra chip with the UMC logo is the 85C206 system chip, which is a clone of the one from Chips and Technologies. No matter which brand of 85C206 you have they are all functionally identical and can be interchanged. The real magic happens in the "Solutions" chips.

I've never owned a motherboard based on the "Contaq" chipset, but I seem to recall there were a couple of frequent members on this forum that bought some from a lot on eBay. I seem to recall they were fairly average most respects, but note that the one you showed us has 256kb cache. The Symphony board you found is likely limited to 64k cache.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby feipoa » 2017-12-09 @ 09:32

That MSI board looks interesting to me. Have you come across any BIOSes for Contaq?
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2017-12-09 @ 10:07

Count your blessings we have access to any 386 BIOS images at all, mostly thanks to two Russian guys. Trying to find 386 BIOS images in the 90s was like an exercise in futility.

Forget about MR-BIOS. Be lucky if you find anything at all. There are only a handful of MR-BIOS images available. Thankfully we have the ones for UMC and OPTi 495, which seem to be the most common 386 chipsets.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby xjas » 2017-12-11 @ 21:33

Hey guys,
the same seller on Ebay has two keyboard controller + BIOS combos for sale:
https://www.ebay.ca/itm/AMI-386DX-BIOS- ... 2599693465
https://www.ebay.ca/itm/AMI-386-BIOS-PL ... 2412745819

I realize there's little chance the BIOSes are right for my boards, but if the keyboard controllers will work I'd be fine grabbing both. Presumably the BIOSes are the right kind of chips to flash my own onto? (I do have a UV eraser & EPROM programmer.)
Do all BIOSes from this era use a standard-size/type chip?
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby luckybob » 2017-12-11 @ 21:45

all identical? no. But is each chip unique? also no. I'd wager 85-90% of these particular chips are interchangeable.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby feipoa » 2017-12-11 @ 23:36

Any reason why you want to use a UV-erasable BIOS chip as opposed to an EEPROM? Assuming your BIOS is 28-pin and 64Kx8, which most of them area from this era, EEPROM's with part numbers W27E512 or W27C512 should work fine. I think that AMIKEY should work.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby xjas » 2017-12-11 @ 23:51

^^ ...because I'm not sure my 30-year-old EPROM burner can do EEPROMs? (Also I don't have any.)

Can I just stick an EEPROM into a slot designed for an EPROM? I didn't know that would work. Incidentally the EPROM burner is one of the reasons I don't want to pull apart the cacheless 386 yet, it's hooked up to it (via its proprietary ISA card.) :P

The seller accepted my offers on both chip combos & even combined shipping, so we'll see when these get here. Even if I can't use the included BIOSes, the keyboard controllers are worth the twenty bucks to me.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby feipoa » 2017-12-12 @ 00:01

Well, not all EEPROMs. Some require 12 V and newer motherboards have a jumper to select 5 V or 12 V EEPROMs. I have not tried 12 V EEPROMs in a 386 and I use EEPROM chips on 5 or 6 of my 386 boards.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby xjas » 2017-12-12 @ 04:52

Cool, I'm gonna hit you up for more advice when my chips get here. Sounds like you've had more success with ROM burning than I have.

Incidentally my ET4000 arrived & is in. Nice, noticeable framerate & responsiveness improvement across the board. I did a bunch of benchmarking with the Trident so I should be able to compare with some hard data when I have time. :)

(BTW it turns out I was using the wrong formula to convert Doom from gameticks to fps, because the 1.666 shareware I was using outputs its figures differently than 1.9. So the scores weren't as bad on the Trident as I initially posted. That said, the display DID constantly glitch out on the Trident & it doesn't on the ET4000, so there's that.)

Old vs new, note that both cards have been upgraded to 1MB:
1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg
^^ I thought the ET4000 chip was getting a little hot, so I rigged this up. That one little fan actually keeps it noticably cooler. I'll do something more permanent for final install.

4.jpg
I'm using 7 out of my 8 ISA slots, this thing is loaded with ALL the best hardware. Kind of why I want a better mainboard to match. :P

21.jpg
Of course the first thing I ran on the ET4000 was this. It was essentially designed to tweak the hell out of that chip, and won't run without glitches on just about anything else. Despite having known this demo since the early '90s, I'd never seen it run all the way through perfectly on hardware before, so that was cool.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby fitzpatr » 2017-12-12 @ 05:47

What else is in there? I see the GUS MAX, Diamond Speedstar, and Ethernet and a couple of I/O cards.
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby xjas » 2017-12-12 @ 06:08

^^ IDE/FD controller (top), ATI Stereo FX/CD (the ORIGINAL sound card from my family's first x86 PC in the early '90s!), GUS MAX, serial/parallel card, ethernet card with XTIDE boot ROM (which it won't boot from, working on that...), Diamond SpeedStar VGA, and the ISA card for my EPROM burner (bottom.) I threw everything that would stick at this build. :cool:
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Re: Pimp my 386.

Postby feipoa » 2017-12-12 @ 08:40

OK, but I don't have a UV EPROM eraser, and that BIOS chip you bought is an EPROM. Do you have any of the EEPROM's I suggested?
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