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Memtest86 needed for 286 1MB RAM

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First post, by GabrielKnight123

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I've got a Headland BI-025C HT12 286 16/S motherboard and I'm trying to find a memtest86 to test the (4 sticks) 1MB of ram, it cant load a bootable floppy of memtest86+ v5.01 I guess because its not a UEFI. I'm able to load a driver to enable EMS with XMS as the standard Dos EMM386 crashes the PC at the "loading Dos" screen because the Headland chipset needs the driver to work for some reason but its limited to a maximum of 192KB for XMS and EMS, I mention this in case memtest86 needs more system requirements.

Reply 2 of 28, by debs3759

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Does the original Memtest (not Memtest86) work on older systems?

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Reply 7 of 28, by Horun

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You can try these old mem testers from 1985 😀

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    MEMTEST.ZIP
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  • Filename
    ATRAMTST_.ZIP
    File size
    5.88 KiB
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    41 downloads
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    Public domain

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Reply 8 of 28, by Horun

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Here are two more, RamTest v2 and v3. Both from about 1988.
added: "RamTest is used for identifying an existing fault but could be used as part of a periodic maintenance program. This program has been developed as an exhaustive test of the memory in a PC, XT, AT or any of their clones.
It is much more comprehensive than self-test on boot-up. In addition to system or base memory, RamTest will also test Expanded Memory on all machines and Extended Memory on AT type machines. (Brown Bag Software) Shareware"

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    RAMTEST2.ZIP
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    22.96 KiB
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    41 downloads
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  • Filename
    RAMTEST3.ZIP
    File size
    53.95 KiB
    Downloads
    39 downloads
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    Public domain

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. Stuff: https://archive.org/details/@horun

Reply 9 of 28, by GabrielKnight123

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Thanks Horun I'll try those out but first I have a problem with using CheckIt 3.0, when I do a fast scan it passes for all ram but if I do a full memory test the extended memory fails, do I have the extended setting right from the pictures where the values are 1.000M to 1.188M I ask because I did a test with fast test and changed "base memory" values to "from 0K to 0K" (zero + K) and "expanded memory" values to "from 0K to 0K" too so I could just test the extended memory and it fails the extended memory with a fast test when it was passing it with the other two memory tests enabled so I'm not sure if my ram is bad or I have not set it right or if the program is not working right.

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Reply 11 of 28, by GabrielKnight123

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I loaded Dos without himem.sys and it is still the same, I tried different ram 4 sticks of 80ns 1MB but it ended up with "extended memory" and "Base memory" fails, I tried 4 sticks of 60ns 1MB and it said "extended memory" and "high address lines" so either my ram is all bad or version 3 to too new for my 286 and not working well or the program in some way

Reply 12 of 28, by mkarcher

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As your board is a 286 board, it uses a primary bus width of 16 bit. This means two modules make up a bank. Unless you board does bank interleaving, one bank provides 512K of base memory, and the other bank provides the remaining 128K of base memory, and 384K of extra memory. You likely can configure the split of that extra memory into "extended" and "expanded" memory using the CMOS setup of your board. Currently, the split is set to 192K, which equals 0.188M (with 1M = 1024K) for both extended and expanded memory.

As currently your "base memory" test passes, even in the non-quick mode, we can be quite sure that accessing base memory works fine on your board. I suggest you first verify pairs of your 256K modules by just installing one bank of memory, yielding 512K base memory, no extended memory and no expanded memory. Be aware that boards of that age require a specific bank to be filled; usually the bank that can work in a single-bank configuration is called "bank 0" (or bank 1 if there is no bank 0), and typically, the two slots making up a bank are next to each other. After you identified four modules that pass this test, install them all at once, and see whether the non-quick test also passes in checkit. If it doesn't, I suggest to exclude bugs with the extended/expanded splitting by configuring the system into an all-extedended mode using the CMOS setup, and try whether the issue disappears. You can also try an all-expanded configuration. In the case you provide no extended memory at all, HIMEM.SYS likely will not load, because there is no memory to be managed by HIMEM.SYS.

If the issue is different depending on the extended/expanded split, it looks like your processor has issues communicating with the chipset. If you get issues all the time when using 1M of RAM with RAM that works fine in a single-bank configuration, you likely have issues with the chipset communicating to the RAM.

In my oppinion, this being a bug in CheckIt is very unlikely. Your system is exactly in that generation of computers CheckIt is primarily meant to be used on.

Reply 13 of 28, by mkarcher

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GabrielKnight123 wrote on 2023-04-14, 18:17:

standard Dos EMM386 crashes the PC at the "loading Dos" screen

EMM386 is a driver that requires a 386 processor (hence the name), and emulates the presence of hardware EMS using CPU features that are present in the 386 processor, but are not present in the 286 processor. (To be specific: paging and "Virtual 8086 mode")

GabrielKnight123 wrote on 2023-04-14, 18:17:

the Headland chipset needs the driver to work for some reason

The reason is that DOS doesn't know how to interface with hardware-provided in EMS. This is not surprising, because different hardware vendors use different hardware interfaces to control the expanded memroy hardware. In contrast to extended memory, which is using a 286 CPU feature to access it (the 286 is able to address up to 16M of memory in protected mode), expanded memory uses specific control features on the memory card or the mainboard to enable the 8086 processor to access the full amount of "expanded" memory. The 8086 only can access up to 1M of memory, and this range is split into 640K for general-purpose ("conventional") memory, and 384K for BIOS extensions, video memory, shared memory on network cards and other special purposes. Expanded memory opens a 64KB "window" in this 384KB area to make the processor able to access a specific part of that expanded memory. Accessing the specific part that has been chosen ("mapped") in a hardware-dependent way requires no special support - the processor is perfectly able to access memory through that window using standard methods. On the other hand, making different parts of the expanded memory visible in the window is the hardware-specific part, which is provided by the EMS driver.

So EMM386 implements the method to instruct a 386 or newer CPU to re-map EMS window memory accesses into extended memory, whereas your Headland Technologies driver implements the method to tell the Headland Technologies chipset on your mainboard to re-map EMS window memory access into the part of "extra memory" which has been reserved for providing EMS.

Reply 14 of 28, by Jo22

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@mKarcher That's all fine and true, but couldn't you have used a more.. simple language?
Assuming the person you speak to is a beginner (or new to the specific matter), the flood of information isn't exactly helpful.

Or let's remember what Einstein said:
"Wenn du es einem Sechsjährigen nicht erklären kannst, dann hast du es selbst nicht verstanden."
(If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.)

I'm not saying that this means you, of course.
The quote is just a reminder that simple language has its place, even when it comes to smart people.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 15 of 28, by Horun

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I have two Headland 286 boards, one HT12/A3 chipset, other is Octek Fox M with Headland G2 chipset. Both have many settings in BIOS for base, xms, ems memory settings and if not set proper will cause memory access issues.
Made some notes on BIOS settings on how I got 4 x 1Mb to work well on both but cannot find the notes right now 🙁
added: agree with mkarcher that testing one 512k set then other 512k set is best way to start, and setting bios for 640k base and free remaining as Extended would be best.
IIRC there was setting for shadow main and video bios which will suck about 128k out plus a bit more and some settings for moving all remaining to above 1Mb (maybe that was the G2 board not the HT12)....
sorry it has been over a year since I messed with the 286's....

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. Stuff: https://archive.org/details/@horun

Reply 16 of 28, by Disruptor

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Jo22 wrote on 2023-04-16, 14:53:

@mKarcher That's all fine and true, but couldn't you have used a more.. simple language?

Ja, aber er ist ein wandelndes Lexikon. Er sprudelt wie ein Wasserfall.
Yes, but he's a walking encyclopedia. He's like a waterfall.

I know EMS on a 286 is not an easy topic.
It's just important to know that unless EMS managers like EMM386 were used each implementation was custom by the chipset and needed a special driver for DOS.

Reply 17 of 28, by Disruptor

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GabrielKnight123 wrote on 2023-04-14, 18:17:

I'm able to load a driver to enable EMS with XMS as the standard

Can you setup the amount of EMS and extended RAM somewhere in BIOS?
Perhaps you can assign all to extended RAM (will later be XMS with himem.sys)
Having such a small amount of EMS does not look useful at all...

Reply 18 of 28, by maxtherabbit

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Jo22 wrote on 2023-04-16, 14:53:

@mKarcher That's all fine and true, but couldn't you have used a more.. simple language?
Assuming the person you speak to is a beginner (or new to the specific matter), the flood of information isn't exactly helpful.

you're really one to talk about excessive wordiness, 90% of your posts are a rambling diatribe that may or may not even be directly related to the topic

Reply 19 of 28, by Jo22

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^I don't deny that, I'm quite chatty at times. And I not seldomly apologize, once I realize.
In a situation like this, though, I think, you (we) have to ask yourself (ourselves) the following question: Do I want to distinguish myself or do I want to help?
Again, I don't say that he said anything wrong. It's just that a layman has trouble to follow at some point of complexity.
If I was referencing from Star Trek TOS/TNG, most Sci Fi fellows might be able to follow,
but to a Star W.., err, fantasy fan, it might be difficult.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//