Windows 3.11 on a 386SX

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Reply 20 of 26, by rmay635703

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AlaricD wrote on 2020-02-27, 18:09:
I'll try to slog through the German article (loan words and cognates make it almost readable). I can see it accelerating CAD an […]
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Jo22 wrote on 2020-02-27, 15:32:
Here you go. :) Windows 3.0/3.1/3.11 FPU Usage […]
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Here you go. 😀
Windows 3.0/3.1/3.11 FPU Usage

It's an older thread, though.
The article said that, unlike Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1 used the FPU for drawing.

I'll try to slog through the German article (loan words and cognates make it almost readable). I can see it accelerating CAD and Excel stuff, but screen drawing is done in 2D and so floating point calculation doesn't seem to apply.

Looking through, I can see mention of sine/cosine/tangent, which would be useful in CAD, obviously, but not for drawing 2D windows. Yet, strangely the graphs show performance difference in drawing windows, icons, fills, circles (circles, I can see being improved by an FPU), and points.

This is... mind-boggling.

Another old article stated that disk and virtual memory access was accelerated if you had an FPU.

Might be worth a test to see if anything changes Windows wise w/wout fpu

Reply 21 of 26, by matze79

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Why not simply start a Benchmark ?

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Reply 22 of 26, by SirNickity

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Huh? That makes no sense at all. Everything in 2D is done with integer math. I guess maybe curves and stuff, but I would think even those would be fixed-point if not integer. Is it just the math functions (sine and friends) for all those Excel pie charts?

The only box I have with a FPU and Win 3.x is a DX2. I might have to try this, if I can disable the FPU somehow. (Never had cause to see if it was even an option before.)

That WD Paradise chip is a dog, from what I can tell. I've got one in my 386SX. Not a fast machine anyway, but the onboard graphics do not help any. 😉 An accelerated card would give better results in Windows games of the time -- possibly at a slight expense to DOS graphics performance.

The whole endeavor is probably worth trying if you're curious and think you would use it. Don't be too anxious to shovel money (for new graphics, etc.) at it, though. Win 3.x games were fairly... basic... You might get your fix before you've justified the hardware costs -- although decent accelerated ISA cards don't exactly cost a premium.

Reply 23 of 26, by Jo22

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SirNickity wrote on 2020-02-29, 00:38:

Win 3.x games were fairly... basic... You might get your fix before you've justified the hardware costs -- although decent accelerated ISA cards don't exactly cost a premium.

Well, by today's standards, of course, they were. But in comparison to other desktop games from the mid-1980s they weren't so bad. 😀
It's likely nothing more than a distant memory anymore, but games running on a GUI, like Macintosh Finder or Atari TOS/GEM existed years before Windows was popular (let's just think of all those games using HyperCard).
What's positive is, that those games ran at reasonable screen resolution each that was not as eye straining as the popular 320x200 MCGA or QVGA (Quarter VGA) resolution.

Personally, this often reminds me of the Sega GameGear handheld platform. It often got games ported over from the old Sega MasterSystem.
Not seldomly these games were being advertised as if they were superior, improved versions of the originals. They came with stereo sound, higher color depth and so on.
However, what they lacked was something very crucial to the game play - a reasonable view-port.
Using pretty character sprites made in a pixel-art style is all fine and dandy, but useless if you can't see where your character is going to.
That's something that Windows 3.x as a platform fixed. It made games graphics made in Deluxe Paint and other DTP programs shine.

Well, in theory at least. These "Sega PC" titles, for example, were using Mega Drive emulation mainly, without actually porting the game engines to take advantage of this.
Sierra was wiser in this respect. Their later Windows releases at least tried to make things right.
The DOS platform was years behing in this respect, since Vesa VBE/AF never made it and people were stuck in MCGA's mode 13h for years to come.

PS: Another positive thing of Windows 3.1 as a games platform was, that it could bring acceleration to games retroactively. 😀
Win16 games that got released before the advent of Windows Accelerator boards could benefit from that.
That's because Windows games used an API (GDI mainly, later WinG), unlike DOS games that manually digged into the mechanics of MCGA/VGA.
(If DOS games had at least bothered to use VGA BIOS as a hardware abstraction layer they could have had partially benefited of evolution in graphics technology ..)

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Reply 24 of 26, by SirNickity

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All true, however I think some of those same factors hurt gaming on Win 3.x. For example, early graphics adapters ran those higher-resolution VGA and Super VGA modes, but were terribly slow doing it. So, any games that hoped to work in that environment had to tolerate very low graphics performance. Hence lots of card / puzzle games, things like Sim City and Outpost, where the slow redraws weren't such a big deal because the game didn't move at a fast pace, etc.

Sierra did port their point-and-clicks, which worked OK, but at least the ones I played seemed to have a ton of bugs compared to the more reliable DOS versions. (Although, I've since learned that Sierra was actually a prolific bug publishing house, where some titles perhaps also had some functional code. So maybe they're not the best example.)

By the time Myst came along, performance was getting better and at least some form of acceleration was likely. That was also toward the end of 3.x's heyday though.

Reply 25 of 26, by yawetaG

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derSammler wrote on 2020-02-24, 12:55:

WfW should be avoided by all means. It's bloated and even relies on real-mode stuff you need to load when not using Windows. Any non-WfW version of Windows will do even with networking, as it can use whatever network you have set up in DOS.

Oh really? Never noticed that back in the day. If you only want to use MS-DOS, you don't need to load the WfW stuff (which runs in enhanced mode only, AFAIK).

Reply 26 of 26, by Master_Shifu

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BinaryDemon wrote on 2020-02-27, 14:08:

No CD-ROM drive, I’m running directly off a CF card. I think because of the IDE-CF adapter it won’t like me enable 32bit disk access...

Actually, i had the same issue, couldn't figure out what was wrong at first but Windows 3.1 and later 3.11 WfW that ook forever to boot and windows applications were extremely slow.
First thought it was some driver conflict so reformatted everything, removed all cards etc. still the same... Only thing that remained was the CF-IDE adapter.

Turning on 32-Bit Disk Access solved the issue, after that everything went just fine, still not sure what or why since everything in Dos ran perfectly fine.
I later installed the upgraded 32 Bit Disk access driver from the Ontrack disk and now everything runs and hums again perfectly 😀 Maybe i just forgot i did the same in my install previously a year ago...