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First post, by gerry

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I was reading about CPUs life expectancy being around 20 years due to tiny but cumulative use-wear stresses.

I hadn't really though about that - I've never known a CPU to be the failing component. It's usually hard discs, PSUs and even motherboards (though I've known surprisingly few failures even in these components)

Things like not overheating, keeping things dry etc help longevity but if we ourselves last long enough we will see higher and higher level of component failure in our retro systems

I wont be buying replacement retro hardware, if it fails its gone. I have enough spare, and use retro systems relatively sparingly, that if one fails I'd let it go

Some people like to hold duplicates or triplicates of key components and I think that's fine.

I'm increasingly impressed by PC emulation though, and can imagine years from now being able to get all retro feels from this, supplemented by a small number of surviving systems

Just interested in you thoughts on this

Reply 1 of 25, by Errius

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haZpwAm_xEY

“Your mission is to attack and destroy the Apple Computer manufacturing plant. You are allotted 35 bombs and 60 lasers."

Reply 2 of 25, by firage

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I only wish I could put more than a couple hours of wear on my vintage components in a week, though.

I don't buy IC wear, but nothing lasts forever. Enjoy it while you've got it?

My big-red-switch 486

Reply 3 of 25, by Cyberdyne

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In reality, all my 486 to P3 motherboards will die in about 20-50 years from now, maybe even later. I really doubt that newer 2D VGA cards and newer SB PRO clones win never die. Maybe i am wrong. I think I have replaced some of that with modern replicas. Because I sincerely think so, that in 10 years from now the modern replica bussines is totally taken over by China, and we do have affordable ISA Sound, VGA and x86 ISA motherboards. Now we only have cheap floppy emulators and IDE2SD/CFs. That´s about it. And well 3D printing goes more advanced and affordable. Maybe we get multilayer PCB board priters in 20 years. I guy can dream.

I am aroused about any X86 motherboard that has full functional ISA slot. I think i have problem. Not really into that original (Turbo) XT,286,386 and CGA/EGA stuff. So just a DOS nut.

Reply 4 of 25, by imi

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really old ICs from the 70s and 80s sometimes just degrade and fail, there's a lot of projects out there to replace some of the less attainable ones already, so I think old hardware will be kept alive for a long time still... even though not all of it might be "original"

sometimes silicon is said to have a lifespan of 20-30 years, but seeing as how some have already lasted 50years or longer I'd assume there's quite a bit of life left in most parts of the 90s, I guess this gets an issue on the more modern chips with smaller features, but I don't really know the specifics.

Reply 5 of 25, by chinny22

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I've had a 1 CPU die a LGA1366 Xeon, came as the 2nd CPU in a Dell workstation.
So doubt it was overclocked but maybe it was worked hard for long hours?
However most the time you'll probably go though many many motherboard's before the CPU is the failure point.

I'll repair/replace parts as long as costs are reasonable. Although like everyone else it seems on average they are lucky if they get a couple of hours of usage in a week.
I know they are far simpler but 80's computers are still going strong. based off that should at least be able to have a WinXP build in another 20 years time when I'm in my 80's

Reply 6 of 25, by Jo22

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I don't worry at all. 😀
If technology keeps developing as it does, we will have some new sort of 3D printers in a couple of years that can print CPU cores on glass, plastic or use semi-conductive ink.
With this, we can make replicas of chips in the micrometre range (aka micron).
See "Z80 on Glass" .

Even if that is not the case, embeded x86 CPUs will still be available as a niche, for legacy applications likely.

That being said, FPGAs or their successor will also be able to replicate an x86 CPU.
With a daughter board (or interposer card) it could even fit in an actual legacy mainboard.

Or, we will use ISA/VLB backplanes with a 486 system on a single ISA card.
That way, we can still use expansion cards.
Or replicas, like the Blasterboard.

In either case, our old CPUs won't be useless.
They can still be used as research objects or for testing purposes.

Again, I don't really worry. Thinks are made more dramatic than they really are.
For example, my father's floppies and datasettes from 1986 and earlier were always carefully stored. The result: They are still readable. If you ask any "expert" how long a floppy/CD/HDD lasts, the answer will be 5-10 years maximum.

"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//

Reply 7 of 25, by Unknown_K

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Electron migration is a thing for hot running CPU and GPU chips that will kill them eventually.

Collector of old computers, hardware, and software

Reply 8 of 25, by newtmonkey

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I have a single DOS gaming PC I built over the lockdown, which I put together piece by piece as I found parts mostly on Yahoo Auctions Japan and Ebay, complete with a decent CRT monitor. I love the thing as both a means to play awesome games and as a hobby project that I can continuously improve and tweak. Living in Japan, it was quite difficult to find just the right parts for a decent price. I'll replace parts as they fail if it's easy/inexpensive enough.

Having said that, once it gets to the point where it becomes too complicated or expensive, I'll go back to PCem which is honestly quite comparable to real hardware, at least in terms of running games. A lot of progress has also been made on the 486 core for the MiSTer FPGA project, and I understand that it even supports external MIDI devices now. That's another great option if things get too complicated/expensive to maintain.

Reply 9 of 25, by bloodem

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This will never happen!!!! It won't... it won't.... it won't.... it.... won't....

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
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Reply 10 of 25, by gerry

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all interesting views, I'd concur with the view that hardware lasts longer than expert expectations (but we don't run it that hard 24/7 it's true) and that for our lifetimes it's likely to be available in enough quantity

it's true that retro pc enthusiasts are relatively small in number and probably a shrinking pool, there'll be enough left.

The PC is now just an option in a pool of devices, future retro enthusiasts will have varied interests in old phones, tablets, pc's, 'smart' devices, single-board computers and so on - it'll be interesting to see if there is a retro scene about modern devices in 20 years time

printing / making your own hardware is intriguing, but i doubt it would be something we could do individually - perhaps short runs of devices via 'made to order' from firms with some fabrication machinery

(interesting thread on this on slashdot: https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/19/12/11/ … ardware-at-home )

finally, software like PCem is seriously good and i can imagine more hardware and IC's in particular can be emulated in time. It's an interesting thought to have computer in a few years time which can emulate just about any console, pc or device from right now today all the way back!

Reply 13 of 25, by newtmonkey

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As a side note, in addition to my DOS gaming PC which still works absolutely fine (*knocks on wood*), I also have an Atari 800XL, two Commodore 64s, and Apple IIc, all of which survived shipping across the world and work perfectly fine to this day. The only classic hardware I've had fail is an Atari ST, though those are of questionable quality to begin with.

Reply 14 of 25, by foil_fresh

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i'm okay with things that are XP compatible and above to die and fizzle out, but i don't want my DOS and W9x stuff to die.

I wish some lesser known chip manufacturer made a low power 486 SOC with ISA and PCI slots that can be a replacement for retro tech. They could easily sell these at an inflated cost if they worked the same as the old intel chips, with a larger multiplier so we can get some speedy new stuff. I would be happy to buy a motherboard with unlocked 486 on it for 300 bucks no problems.

i'm very open to FPGA too but the tech needs to mature and grow (from what i've read).

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Reply 15 of 25, by jakethompson1

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foil_fresh wrote on 2020-10-16, 03:02:

i'm okay with things that are XP compatible and above to die and fizzle out, but i don't want my DOS and W9x stuff to die.

I wish some lesser known chip manufacturer made a low power 486 SOC with ISA and PCI slots that can be a replacement for retro tech. They could easily sell these at an inflated cost if they worked the same as the old intel chips, with a larger multiplier so we can get some speedy new stuff. I would be happy to buy a motherboard with unlocked 486 on it for 300 bucks no problems.

i'm very open to FPGA too but the tech needs to mature and grow (from what i've read).

The ESA 486 motherboards are probably the closest you'll find. I still haven't got around to fully benchmarking mine. One downside is they don't have L2 cache. Here is some info from back when I bought it: Update on ESA 486 industrial motherboard I'm not sure how the company is doing as the last time I tried to call them, no one answered.

Reply 16 of 25, by cyclone3d

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foil_fresh wrote on 2020-10-16, 03:02:

i'm okay with things that are XP compatible and above to die and fizzle out, but i don't want my DOS and W9x stuff to die.

I wish some lesser known chip manufacturer made a low power 486 SOC with ISA and PCI slots that can be a replacement for retro tech. They could easily sell these at an inflated cost if they worked the same as the old intel chips, with a larger multiplier so we can get some speedy new stuff. I would be happy to buy a motherboard with unlocked 486 on it for 300 bucks no problems.

i'm very open to FPGA too but the tech needs to mature and grow (from what i've read).

I actually have an SOC evaluation board that is basically a 486. It has PCI and ISA slots so there is actually stuff already out there. I forget what the max speed on my eval board is.

Look up Vortex86.

Edit:
The eval board I have uses an STPC SOC. It operates at up to 133Mhz
STPC Comsumer-II evaluation board based build

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
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Reply 17 of 25, by Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman

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To be honest, I found myself less and less relying on retro computer hardware to play old games. The primary reason I build retro machines is to play unaccelerated, textured mapped 3D games in 640x3480 and above; GLide games; and games that only runs on Windows 9x.

But CPU gets faster, making it easier to play hi-res, unaccelerated, textured mapped 3D games in DOSBOX. GLide wrappers allow you to force FSAA on GLide games that only runs on Voodoo1 or Voodoo2. And now you can install Windows 95 and 98 in DOSBOX. Nowadays you can wrap early DirectDraw games with OpenGL. You can also play EF2000 on modern system, not only with GLide wrapper, but also with TrackIR to replace real Virtual i-Glasses hardware.

As CPU gets faster, and emulation gets better, will there be any point to build old computers to play old games?

Never thought this thread would be that long, but now, for something different.....
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman.

Reply 18 of 25, by kolderman

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If emulation was perfect, sure. But it actually sucks. Just getting a nicely scaled full screen 2D image in dosbox is a PITA whereas my native dos pc drives the LCD perfectly. I can't imagine how much more troublesome and underperforming later win98 games are. The only valid uses cases for emulation as I can see are very early games that run too fast even on slow 386, or flight sims where you want to map controls from a modern joystick.

Reply 19 of 25, by bloodem

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Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman wrote on 2020-10-16, 06:59:
To be honest, I found myself less and less relying on retro computer hardware to play old games. The primary reason I build retr […]
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To be honest, I found myself less and less relying on retro computer hardware to play old games. The primary reason I build retro machines is to play unaccelerated, textured mapped 3D games in 640x3480 and above; GLide games; and games that only runs on Windows 9x.
[...]
[...]
As CPU gets faster, and emulation gets better, will there be any point to build old computers to play old games?

Not sure about others, but honestly... I am not doing this to 'play games'. I spend more time benchmarking and tinkering with old hardware than playing actual games. Don't get me wrong, I still play some games every now and then, but it's definitely not my main purpose for building retro PCs.

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k