Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

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Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-27 @ 17:34

Got this Promise FT440BX Slot 1 mainboard, but I'm not able to find any infos on it. Is it any good? Has RAID on-board, it seems. Would like to get my hands on the manual.

IMG_20171227_180313866.jpg


//edit:
Found the press release: https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Promise+ ... a050277591

Mainly interested if it works with a Pentium III 450 MHz.
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby darry » 2017-12-27 @ 20:16

If I had to guess, anything pre-Coppermine will likely work (so probably yes to the 450 MHz P3) .
Coppermine support will depend on VRM capability and BIOS support .
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby dionb » 2017-12-27 @ 23:11

derSammler wrote:Got this Promise FT440BX Slot 1 mainboard, but I'm not able to find any infos on it. Is it any good? Has RAID on-board, it seems. Would like to get my hands on the manual.
[...]

Mainly interested if it works with a Pentium III 450 MHz.

It's a very early BX board (note the date sticker on the BIOS), so full Katmai support is unlikely without a BIOS upgrade - but so long as it supports Deschutes (Pentium II with 100MHz FSB - which one assumes any BX board would) it should at least operate as a P2-450.

Edit:
Digging on wimsbios.com, I bumped into this:
Chaintech for Promise FT440BX Intel 440BX/GX/ZX 2A69KC3W 02/26/1999-I440BX-W977EF-2A69KC39C-00
Chaintech for Promise FT440BX Intel 440BX/GX/ZX 6Z69KC3D 02/26/1999-I440BX-W977EF-2A69KC39C-00

So it's a Chaintech board (figures as Promise was never a motherboard vendor). Check your BIOS string, it should be one of these two.

That date is interesting, 26-2-1999 was the day the Pentium 3 Katmai was introduced. Wouldn't be surprised if this adds P3 support (if only to give the correct string at boot).
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby hyoenmadan » 2017-12-28 @ 01:57

dionb wrote:That date is interesting, 26-2-1999 was the day the Pentium 3 Katmai was introduced. Wouldn't be surprised if this adds P3 support (if only to give the correct string at boot).


Not only that, but also the required microcode updates to make the CPU perform to its full potential, and the ACPI support for proper operation under Win2000.
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-28 @ 07:18

Thanks so far. I will just try with the Pentium III today and see if it boots (the CPU is a SL35D, btw, which can run at 600 MHz :) ). I have a Pentium II 400 MHz as well, but that one is not meant for usage, but for display (may not even work, dunno).

dionb wrote:So it's a Chaintech board (figures as Promise was never a motherboard vendor).

Maybe it was the only board they've ever done, but it is a Promise board. See the press release linked above:
Promise Technology Inc. Tuesday announced it has developed the first high performance PC motherboard to employ IDE RAID technology, featuring speedier data transfers, data redundancy, and the ability to build huge "virtual" storage volumes composed of multiple UDMA or EIDE drives.

Could be that Chaintech did the BIOS for them, or it was a co-development.
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby dionb » 2017-12-28 @ 09:39

derSammler wrote:Thanks so far. I will just try with the Pentium III today and see if it boots (the CPU is a SL35D, btw, which can run at 600 MHz :) ). I have a Pentium II 400 MHz as well, but that one is not meant for usage, but for display (may not even work, dunno).

dionb wrote:So it's a Chaintech board (figures as Promise was never a motherboard vendor).

Maybe it was the only board they've ever done, but it is a Promise board. See the press release linked above:
Promise Technology Inc. Tuesday announced it has developed the first high performance PC motherboard to employ IDE RAID technology, featuring speedier data transfers, data redundancy, and the ability to build huge "virtual" storage volumes composed of multiple UDMA or EIDE drives.

Could be that Chaintech did the BIOS for them, or it was a co-development.

If slapping a sticker on a board and throwing out a press release makes someone a motherboard vendor, Packard Bell, HP and Dell suddenly became major board vendors ;)

This is a Chaintech board with a Promise chip (something that became pretty common later on, but this might well be the first example of an onboard Promise IDE RAID controller), where Promise did the marketing (hence "Promise by Chaintech"), just like an Intel OR430VX in a Packard Bell system is still an Intel board, even if PB lists it as "Packard Bell Orlando".

Semantics aside, neither company still has anything technical on their website about it. But if you google for Chaintech FT440BX, you find more info, and more importantly, more BIOS images, than searching for Promise alone.
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-28 @ 09:49

dionb wrote:If slapping a sticker on a board and throwing out a press release makes someone a motherboard vendor, Packard Bell, HP and Dell suddenly became major board vendors ;)

That on the top left is not a sticker but silkscreened on the PCB. Apart from that, searching for "Chaintech FT440BX" gives even less results than searching for "Promise FT440BX". Chaintech was a well-known brand, so if this is a Chaintech board, there should be references to it. And finally, that website you quoted seems fishy. Trying to download any BIOS redirects to BIOSAgentPlus, where you have to register and download (buy?), well, BIOSAgentPlus, which I guess is just what it sounds like: adware. The only matching search results you get when searching for "Chaintech FT440BX" are all pointing to that, btw. I don't see how a single, fishy website can be taken as a proof that the board is from Chaintech and not from Promise. We have "Promise" silkscreened on the PCB and a press release from Promise announcing that board. So that's what it is.
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-28 @ 10:04

Thanks to the Wayback Machine, I found this:

https://web.archive.org/web/19991001092 ... t440bx.htm

Too bad the link to the datasheet doesn't work, but it says:
Up to 450MHz PentiumII/III CPUs with 440BX chipset

So the CPU should work.
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-28 @ 10:44

And finally, that website you quoted seems fishy. Trying to download any BIOS redirects to BIOSAgentPlus, where you have to register and download, well, BIOSAgentPlus, which I guess is just what it sounds like: adware.

And I was right. This is in German, but anyway: https://www.paules-pc-forum.de/forum/th ... gent-plus/

This tool is just scamware. And the list of BIOSes on the website is probably just randomly generated to make sure that whatever combination you enter in Google, the website will appear.
Last edited by derSammler on 2017-12-28 @ 22:11, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby derSammler » 2017-12-28 @ 20:19

Seems like the BIOS was already updated in the past. It's not from 1998 as the label on the BIOS chip says, but from late 1999. The PIII was detected without problems. Have to re-cap the board, however. Some caps are bulged and the board does not like a cold start - it will just beep. After pressing reset, it comes up normally.

IMG_20171228_210520578.jpg

IMG_20171228_210508340.jpg

IMG_20171228_210554357.jpg


Have to check what's up with the speed. Should be much faster...

//edit:
Speed issue solved; replaced the CMOS battery and now it keeps system/video bios cacheable options. ;)
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Re: Promise FT440BX Slot 1 Mainboard - Any Infos?

Postby dionb » 2018-1-04 @ 01:54

Good to see the board already has a BIOS that does what you need. Enjoy!
derSammler wrote:
dionb wrote:If slapping a sticker on a board and throwing out a press release makes someone a motherboard vendor, Packard Bell, HP and Dell suddenly became major board vendors ;)

That on the top left is not a sticker but silkscreened on the PCB. Apart from that, searching for "Chaintech FT440BX" gives even less results than searching for "Promise FT440BX". Chaintech was a well-known brand, so if this is a Chaintech board, there should be references to it. And finally, that website you quoted seems fishy. Trying to download any BIOS redirects to BIOSAgentPlus, where you have to register and download (buy?), well, BIOSAgentPlus, which I guess is just what it sounds like: adware. The only matching search results you get when searching for "Chaintech FT440BX" are all pointing to that, btw. I don't see how a single, fishy website can be taken as a proof that the board is from Chaintech and not from Promise. We have "Promise" silkscreened on the PCB and a press release from Promise announcing that board. So that's what it is.

Just a quick clarification here though. I was not suggesting downloading whatever was behind those links, but to use the BIOS strings on WimsBIOS as a point for further searching (I'm disappointed to see the original BIOS links on WimsBIOS no longer work). The fact the FT440BX gives the same strings as the Chaintech 6BTR is the giveaway. If you google for that you find:
http://www.buildorbuy.org/1disc.html
Promise RAID MB ft440bx = Chaintech 6BTR MB

and then in Russian (which I've dumped in Google Translate for the quote below) no mention of FT440BX, but a description of the 6BTR with a (very low res) picture:
http://www.ixbt.com/short/100399.shtml
Chaintech has released a new product. To the 6BTM hit, an IDE RAID controller was added, similar to Promise Fastrak (levels 0, 1, 0 + 1). As a result, the resulting 6BTR motherboard supports up to 8 IDE devices (2 ports - a full-featured IDE controller on the board, and 2 ports, with the ability to boot from them - RAID). And in the rest - the usual 6BTM.

Image
Apart from the colour of the two extra IDE connectors, that's the exact same board you posted here.

And as the BIOS strings are the same, they really do use the same BIOS files. As far as I can see, there are only references to the Chaintech 6BTR in Russian or Serbian, so I figure this particular board was marketed as Promise FT440 in the US/Western Europe and as Chaintech 6BTR in the East. So I stand by my earlier statement that Chaintech made this board and that if you need to look up something about, Chaintech 6BTR is just as valid as Promise FT440BX. Either way it's pretty obscure with very little info available.
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