PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Discussion about old sound cards, MIDI devices and sound related accessories.

PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby LSS10999 » 2010-5-11 @ 14:38

I hesitated about writing something about this topic several times before... but I think I should put it here:

The ONLY and the MOST VITAL requirement of enabling legacy DOS audio support for capable PCI sound cards is that your motherboard MUST have a proper southbridge. If the southbridge does have PC-PCI or Distributed DMA (DDMA) support, then the card will definitely work under legacy environments.

As far as what I have tested, for AMD users, a VIA K8T890-based Socket AM2 motherboard with an adequate CPU (and probably a Black Edition Windsor/Brisbane one) is probably the farthest you can go to preserve legacy capabilities. It seems that these motherboards itself limit maximum RAM to 3.25GB, the traditional RAM limit on 32-bit OSes, despite it can be expanded to a theoretical 8GB. K8T890/VT8237A boards from ASUS and ASRock are so far the best ones as they don't appear to have the aforementioned hard RAM limit after enabling Memory Hole Remapping. The one I am now currently using is ASUS M2V. Presumably all VIA southbridges as far as VT8237x retain legacy capabilities to some extent. Older VIA southbridges such as VT82C686B have real DDMA, and is probably present in all VT82Cxxx southbridges and also partially present in almost all VIA southbridges...

No matter what I do, all nVidia nForce chipsets, including current ones like nForce 720D (MCP78), would only play FM music on those PCI sound cards. SFX cannot be played, and sometimes the games would crash if it ever tries to play SFX. And the reason why nVidia chipsets are partially supported seems to be that they started making chipsets since around 2001 starting from nForce 220, and chipset designs were partially similar at that time. Also, it seems some newer ESS sound cards (probably Allegro and Canyon3D) appeared around 2002 are still backwards-compatible with DOS using traditional technologies. (It was proven true, as someone has mentioned that replacing an old VIA motherboard with a similar nForce motherboard resulted in legacy audio non-functional, despite the computer itself is still the same.)

Intel motherboards with ICH6+ has the same problem... for most sound cards, only FM/Adlib can be played, no SFX. The only card that can play SFX in DOS on it is Aureal Vortex (AU88x0). However, I'm experiencing fewer crashes when testing on GA-P31-DS3L (with ICH7), maybe because I did not load any other drivers or it is just that it does not produce as many errors as nForce ones... (Technically, those current DOS system drivers, though using significantly fewer conventional memory, can create more issues with DOS programs than the ones from MS-DOS)

As of now there are still some places that have ISA-equipped boards for current Intel CPUs but the ISA ports on those with ICH6+ southbridges are most likely Slave ports that do not offer DMA needed by sound cards, but likely unimportant to ISA cards used for industrial purposes. Those boards would accept Sound Blaster cards in their ISA ports, but attempting to initialize DMA would fail.

Later AMD boards (previously ATi boards) have no legacy capabilities. As of 700/800/900 series chipsets, their southbridges (SB7x0/8x0/9x0) would either load the drivers but games won't detect their presence, or that they would refuse to load the drivers citing they cannot detect anything.

So far the southbridge compatibilities for PCI audio cards are as follows:
Intel: Up to ICH5x through PC-PCI. Only FM/Adlib possible on ICH6+, except Aureal AU88x0 where SFX may partially work (tested on GA-P31-DS3L, Intel P31/ICH7).
VIA: DDMA capable as of VT82C686B and probably still present in all up to VT823x series southbridges. On VT8237x, AFAIK only ESS Solo-1's DOS driver can still work in most scenarios.
AMD(ATi): Legacy audio is not possible on AMD southbridges, along with many other legacy functions other than audio (such as IDE caching). Such audio drivers will load on these systems, but the system and programs cannot communicate with the driver and thus they'll still function as if the drivers weren't present even after loading them.
nForce(nVidia): Only FM/Adlib possible on all chipsets. The situation is similar to that of Intel ICH6+, implying no native ISA DMA support since initial design, and shares traits with ICH6+ in some aspects.
I have no idea of chipsets of other manufacturers as of now (SiS, ULi, etc.) for I don't have info or boards to figure them out. If anyone has such experience with those chipsets feel free to share.

Creative Sound Blaster PCI and Live! can probably, never be able to be supported again, due to the function of SERR# to NMI routing has been partially or completely broken on new motherboards such as on Intel ICH7, according to RayeR. It is possible to re-enable SERR# to NMI routing on ICHx by software (which he did) so the driver can be loaded, but only FM/Adlib will work given the chipset no longer has ISA DMA. It may be possible to make tools to manually enable SERR# to NMI for other chipsets as well provided they retain some legacy capabilities, this way SBPCI and Live!'s legacy functionalities can be used on more places.

As tested, Aureal Vortex (AU88x0) is the only card capable of producing SFX sound on a wider range of current motherboards, though I experienced loops when tried on nForce-based motherboards, at least for what I tested on the ICH7 motherboard, it is the only card that can play SFX. So perhaps Aureal cards are the only ones that are truly chipset-independent when it comes to legacy capabilities (though how they managed it was not publicly known). It is also best for some vintage DOS/Windows games that supported and utilized A3D. FM Music on these cards may vary. Some cards may sound authentic, but the FM on my own Turtle Beach Montego A3DXStream (AU8820) sounded a bit off-pitch compared to a real SB16.

As far as I know, only three sound card chips can provide both Sound Blaster Pro and (near) authentic Adlib FM music.

ESS Solo-1 (ES1938)
This PCI sound card has the best compatibility through ESS' Transparent DMA (TDMA). In TDMA mode it uses about 1.5K of base memory while it doesn't use any base memory if in DDMA mode on old chipsets. It supports early VIA chipsets like KT133A flawlessly. On my old VIA K8T890-based GA-K8VT890 (Socket 754) motherboard, I haven't seen any apps crash on DOS with the driver loaded. The onboard ESFM synth can play Adlib music near-authentic. I have heard only one music has some defect with this card, and it is the track "One Mustn't Fall" of Tyrian 2000. Also, unlike some other PCI cards, ESS Solo-1 does not register itself as a Sound Blaster Pro to make certain apps think that a Sound Blaster Pro is installed, and thus auto-config in some game's setup program would not work and you have to input the settings manually. It requires Win95 Legacy Audio installed, but this can be solved by loading the respective SYS file (ESSOLO.SYS, or ESSAUDIO.SYS if you use newer Allegro-compatible driver) in CONFIG.SYS, before loading the actual ESSOLO.COM.

It works almost flawless on VIA K8T890/VT8237x based motherboards, even on Socket AM2 boards that used the chipset.

Later ESS cards (Maestro, Allegro), however, cannot provide the near-authentic FM music like Solo-1, as they don't use the ESFM synth anymore.

Fortemedia FM801
It uses a proprietary technology to ensure compatibility, but it's not as compatible as ESS' TDMA. It uses about 1.8K of base memory, but many programs would crash with runtime errors or something, especially on my K8T890-based motherboards. I cannot test too much about the onboard FM synth, but so far the music from those games I can run with that card sounds authentic. I haven't tried too much about it since it would crash the system on nVidia boards though it can theoretically produce only FM music. Also, on FreeDOS, it seems it requires Win95 Legacy Audio (which is not possible) installed beforehand, and I don't know how to enable it.

YAMAHA YMF7xx
The one I had was a YMF744. It has a genuine OPL3 FM chip on board. However, it doesn't seem to have a known chipset-independent workaround, and the settings were locked to "Port=220, IRQ=INTA#(5), DMA=1 using DDMA at 8000" for most motherboards. It was said such settings can be changed only on 440BX motherboard (which was at least a decade ago). The card may still have the potential to work on other chipsets, just the driver itself is unlikely to work properly with modern motherboards due to SETUPDS couldn't handle other chipsets properly.

Supports only FM music on all nVidia chipsets and later VIA chipsets. It's in fact a DDMA-dependent card and are not aware of modern motherboards, and it makes the system unstable and crashes a lot. The FM chip will work chipset-independent as it's a native, genuine FM synth that will happily assign itself to port 388h, but unfortunately it will not work properly on later AMD chipsets as legacy compatibilities on those chipsets are completely gone.

CMI8738 was said to support DOS, but in fact, it doesn't. Even those onboard CMI8738/9739 that existed on some motherboards don't seem to support DOS properly, while the drivers will not load and saying cannot find PCI device on newer boards.

So far, as for my own experience, sound is the only thing that prevents modern PC to run DOS games properly. Though graphics may have some distortions on some games with some modern graphics cards, but it may not be as tough as supporting sounds. As far as I know, all current video cards should be able to function in DOS without problems.

Many of those sound chip manufacturers are out these days, but I don't know if there can be anything to be used as a reference on how to improve legacy DOS compatibility... Like that Aureal Vortex has at least working SFX on many chipsets while ESS experiences fewest errors and crashes on compatible chipsets... And by the way, I am still wondering if there are any references for some DOS audio APIs such as Miles Sound System and DIGPAK... maybe it is possible to build drivers for PCI cards around these APIs so at least games using these APIs can work directly... MPXPlay, a DOS music player, for example, can work with many current audio cards including onboard AC97/HD audio using its own ways.

Recent emulations don't seem to be as good as to be considered authentic. Especially if you played those games on real platforms in the past, you may at times feel that the graphics aren't as good and smooth as in real DOS. The use of scalers and pixel shaders in DOSBox would offer various results, sometimes better, other times worse. Also, some games experience audio lag... when I tried playing Terminal Velocity with default settings under DOSBox, the game looks smooth, but the ingame SFX are played a bit late (for example, after firing the weapons, the sound comes around 200-300ms later).

Generally, you can use DOSBox to emulate a very slow computer out of box, that will make your very old 80s games that will generally run too fast on 386/486 or later to run just fine. However, if you want to play a rather recent DOS game, you may need some serious tweaks. Old Apogee Games like Caves of Thor (tested) will work out-of-box with auto settings.

As for speed, manually setting a CPU cycle of at least 10000 may be needed for DOSBox to play a modern DOS game smoothly, and some games requires more. Usually with DosBox set to around 20000-30000 cycles and with Pentium instructions enabled will be adequate for most modern DOS games at their highest possible quality (be sure to adjust video options as well). Keeping all the CPU settings to auto will, in my case, only give you a slow 80s-compatible CPU.

EDIT: Updated.

EDIT2: A late update concerning RayeR's SERR# to NMI routing enabler tool... I don't know how he actually achieved that but if the same can be done to the VT82xx (like VT8237/R/A/S) southbridges then those boards will probably be able to make good use of the Sound Blaster Live! in DOS as many cards I tested can play both FM and digitized audio samples on those southbridges while other southbridges failed...

EDIT3: Another update.

EDIT4: ESS drivers don't work well with ICH5 for some reason (using MSI 865GVM3-V as an example, which has ICH5) as it couldn't detect its PC-PCI (using TDMA), nor play SFX (it may be instead due to incorrect IRQ assignments as something else onboard was taking IRQ5/7). This is probably due to the fact that the DOS drivers were developed around the time of 440BX (PIIX4) and similar chipsets, when both ISA sound cards and PCI sound cards were used, and were not updated since, despite the fact that some chipset manufacturers maintained legacy support for an extended amount of time.

Under this assumption, it seems that either DDMA probably had always existed in VIA's desktop southbridges up to VT8237x and VT8251, similar to the case of ICH5, or that only VIA chipsets were able to actually make use of ESS' TDMA implementation. As a result, since ICH5 and before can still support ISA DMA, if one needs legacy audio on ICH5 an ISA audio card would be the only option.

EDIT5: It seems searching around the net and some documents have made things clear that as of now, ICH5 is the end of the line for *proper* ISA DMA support. It cannot be implemented on PCH (as for MS-98A9). However, it seems to be still possible to implement ISA DMA in software such as in BIOS, which AMD did for some G-series embedded boards/SBCs to provide fully ISA DMA capable PC/104 ports (which itself is technically ISA though physically different).

EDIT6: Another revision.
I currently have an IEI IMBA-G412ISA board which has two ISA slots. As expected, the ISA slots do not support DMA, thus only FM is possible using an ISA Sound Blaster card, and that games' setup programs would complain about DMA not working. It's strange as the board actually offered options to reserve DMA channels and memory in BIOS, but I do not know what those options really for as they doesn't seem to have any effect in actually making the ISA sound card working. Still, the board provided quite a few interfaces, and features an animated BIOS boot screen.

EDIT7:
There's been some success on getting DSDMA working on newer chipsets for YMF7x4 sound cards. It requires EMM386 to be loaded, with both FM and digitized sound working. Check his post for more details.

Also, it appears that the most recent chipsets (especially since Haswell) no longer provide native PCI slots, and manufacturers have to use PCIe-PCI bridges to provide them, which has a fatal limitation that it cannot access addresses below the card's base address where Sound Blaster (0x220), General MIDI (0x330) and FM Synth (0x388) are located, preventing those cards from working properly not only in DOS but also in supported platforms that may make use of those ranges. Though not confirmed, it's possible this is also the cause of them being incompatible with AMD 7xx/8xx/9xx chipsets as well.
Last edited by LSS10999 on 2016-8-07 @ 15:13, edited 20 times in total.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2011-1-28 @ 08:02

LSS10999 wrote:So far, as for my own experience, sound is the only thing that prevents modern PC to run PC games properly.


Speed is another issue. I had limited success slowing down a Phenom II (Asrock AMD chipset board with FSB and multi adjustments), but there is only so much you can do.

And even if you slow down the CPU to the correct level, the memory and video subsystem still performs much much faster than a vintage PC and this can lead to issues with some games.

Another issue is connecting Roland MT-32 MIDI devices to PCI cards. Not sure if you have tested this, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is another road block.

Based on my experience so far, I wold rank the following Vintage PCs in terms of flexibility and compatibility:

1. 486 PC
2. 386 PC
3. Super Socket 7 PC
4. Slot 1 PC

All of these PC's have ISA slots and offer 100% compatibility as far as sound is concerned. Speed can be adjusted quite flexibly, with the exception of Slot 1 systems, which are either very fast or very slow.

Having said all that, I believe DOSBox tops them all in terms of flexibility, compatibility, cost and easy of use. OPL FM Music and digital speech / sound effect work perfectly and are extremely if not totally authentic, plus external Roland MT-32 MIDI modules are also 100% supported through the use of USB MIDI adapters.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby eL_PuSHeR » 2011-1-28 @ 08:04

I had an CMI8738 card on my older Sempron board and the sound capabilities under real ms-dos were just partial.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby valnar » 2011-2-06 @ 01:19

You left off the Aureal Vortex2, of which the SQ2500 was the pinnacle of that series. It is by far my favorite PCI DOS card, especially since the wavetable header works in DOS. No hanging notes like on an SB16.

The ESS might be slightly more compatible, but I prefer the SQ2500 any day. I also have the Yamaha YMF744 in my same rig (ASUS P2B BX chipset), but I prefer the Aureal in almost all cases unless I want to hear FM.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby Tetrium » 2011-2-08 @ 01:35

LSS10999 wrote:-snip!-

This is a very informative post! I never even knew about this. Thanks for sharing ;)

LSS10999 wrote:ESS Solo-1

Ha! So I finally found a use for that Solo-1 PCI card I've got laying around :P
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby Jorpho » 2013-1-27 @ 05:41

LSS10999 wrote:My own currently-used GA-G31M-S2C somehow doesn't have ISA support in BIOS as shown in HWiNFO32. And probably the compatibility differs between different motherboard manufacturers, or otherwise Intel has completely dropped support after that.
...
Later AMD boards (or ATi boards) have NO ISA function support in BIOS (as confirmed in HWInfo32), and therefore, legacy audio on such motherboards is completely impossible with the current drivers.
I've been looking at this just now.

I have an SB0100 (SB Live!) in a TUSL2-C (815EP + ICH2 chipset). This card appears to work just fine in DOS using SBEINIT.COM. In HWInfo32 (specifically in the BIOS entry under SMBIOS DMI), ISA Support is listed as Not Present.

I also have a CT4810 (SB Ensoniq AudioPCI) in a P4 motherboard with an ATI Radeon 9100 IGP (RS300) + SB200C chipset. HWInfo32 emphatically states that ISA Support is Present! Alas, while the card does seem to function in Windows and SBINIT.COM seems to load without any problems in DOS, I can't seem to get any sound out of it in DOS. SBLEGACY.EXE reports nothing but timeouts, and SBTEST.EXE reports "error: could not reset SB16".

Evidently using HWInfo32 to see if a board has ISA support is not a good standard to see if legacy PCI audio is feasible. So, is there a better way? I suppose to be completely thorough I should try to put the SB Live in the P4 and see if it works properly, but if there's something else I can do to persuade the Ensoniq to work first, I'd like to know.

EDIT: The P4 has an AMI BIOS with an Advanced PCI/PnP Settings Page, including one that allows IRQs to be "reserved for use by Legacy ISA devices". Alas, reserving IRQ7 (which the Ensoniq setup decided upon for the card) doesn't seem to make a difference.

EDIT2: Interesting post at http://www.bttr-software.de/forum/forum ... hp?id=4200 about someone who soldered a board to make this go.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby LSS10999 » 2013-4-17 @ 10:10

Haven't checked here for several years.

Mau1wurf1977 wrote:Speed is another issue. I had limited success slowing down a Phenom II (Asrock AMD chipset board with FSB and multi adjustments), but there is only so much you can do.

And even if you slow down the CPU to the correct level, the memory and video subsystem still performs much much faster than a vintage PC and this can lead to issues with some games.

Another issue is connecting Roland MT-32 MIDI devices to PCI cards. Not sure if you have tested this, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is another road block.

Based on my experience so far, I wold rank the following Vintage PCs in terms of flexibility and compatibility:

1. 486 PC
2. 386 PC
3. Super Socket 7 PC
4. Slot 1 PC

All of these PC's have ISA slots and offer 100% compatibility as far as sound is concerned. Speed can be adjusted quite flexibly, with the exception of Slot 1 systems, which are either very fast or very slow.

Having said all that, I believe DOSBox tops them all in terms of flexibility, compatibility, cost and easy of use. OPL FM Music and digital speech / sound effect work perfectly and are extremely if not totally authentic, plus external Roland MT-32 MIDI modules are also 100% supported through the use of USB MIDI adapters.


I do remember the old days with boards that do have ISA slots. My first ISA sound card was a ES688 Audiodrive. Later I got a Sound Blaster 16. Sadly I was not able to get some better ones... The best board I had with an ISA slot was a VIA KT133A-based EP-8KTA3PRO which supports Athlon XP.

I tried DOSBox before, but for some games I am unable to overcome some audio lag (the sound being played later than expected) and render artifacts (mainly due to scaling) which are not present when playing from a real PC without emulation... That can make me feel a bit uncomfortable especially if that I actually played that game on my old PCs before, as one can easily feel the difference in some ways...

And as for speed, back then I was not aware of the fact that DOSBox's auto option for CPU cycles was very low that made some modern DOS games really slow, while apparently made those old 80s games that do not have a FPS limit work just fine, not too fast and not too slow. And because of that I made an incorrect statement that DOSBox was mostly for 80s games back then. Apparently if I wanted to play a modern DOS game on DOSBox I may have to set a very high CPU cycle value to make it run smooth.

So it seems that for DOSBox, different games may require different configurations to make it feel better. Some may even require more detailed configurations.

eL_PuSHeR wrote:I had an CMI8738 card on my older Sempron board and the sound capabilities under real ms-dos were just partial.


Honestly I never had any success in making CMI8738 work in the past. A long time ago I had a Intel 815-based motherboard which used CMI8738, but sound in DOS never worked even after I successfully loaded the DOS driver.

valnar wrote:You left off the Aureal Vortex2, of which the SQ2500 was the pinnacle of that series. It is by far my favorite PCI DOS card, especially since the wavetable header works in DOS. No hanging notes like on an SB16.

The ESS might be slightly more compatible, but I prefer the SQ2500 any day. I also have the Yamaha YMF744 in my same rig (ASUS P2B BX chipset), but I prefer the Aureal in almost all cases unless I want to hear FM.


Maybe yes, but I have never personally seen a Vortex2-based card myself. Those cards do have some technologies considered very advanced during its era like the GUS which I have never seen one myself, either. I did have a Vortex-based one back then, it can partially produce sound on a nForce motherboard but it will end up looping like crazy and eventually crash the game... Haven't tried it on the VIA board I'm currently using, as its FM sounded a bit off-pitch that I would prefer using ESS Solo-1 which has near-accurate FM playback.

YMF7x4 and FM801 have accurate FM as well, but they have poor compatibility with recent motherboards. They may work better than Solo-1 on early motherboards that hopefully do have PC-PCI or Distributed DMA support, though.

Jorpho wrote:I've been looking at this just now.

I have an SB0100 (SB Live!) in a TUSL2-C (815EP + ICH2 chipset). This card appears to work just fine in DOS using SBEINIT.COM. In HWInfo32 (specifically in the BIOS entry under SMBIOS DMI), ISA Support is listed as Not Present.

I also have a CT4810 (SB Ensoniq AudioPCI) in a P4 motherboard with an ATI Radeion 9100 IGP (RS300) + SB200C chipset. HWInfo32 emphatically states that ISA Support is Present! Alas, while the card does seem to function in Windows and SBINIT.COM seems to load without any problems in DOS, I can't seem to get any sound out of it in DOS. SBLEGACY.EXE reports nothing but timeouts, and SBTEST.EXE reports "error: could not reset SB16".

Evidently using HWInfo32 to see if a board has ISA support is not a good standard to see if legacy PCI audio is feasible. So, is there a better way? I suppose to be completely thorough I should try to put the SB Live in the P4 and see if it works properly, but if there's something else I can do to persuade the Ensoniq to work first, I'd like to know.

EDIT: The P4 has an AMI BIOS with an Advanced PCI/PnP Settings Page, including one that allows IRQs to be "reserved for use by Legacy ISA devices". Alas, reserving IRQ7 (which the Ensoniq setup decided upon for the card) doesn't seem to make a difference.

EDIT2: Interesting post at http://www.bttr-software.de/forum/forum...hp?id=4200 about someone who soldered a board to make this go.


Looks like you're right that using HWInfo32 to see if a board has ISA support is not accurate... for some reasons some current AMD boards (800/900 series chipset) do show ISA Support Present when checking with HWInfo32, but legacy-capable sound cards do not work at all just like the 700 series chipset.

I think the problem lies mostly with the southbridges they use. It appears to me that the chipset manufacturers seldom make major changes on some core parts in the design of their southbridges, which probably explained why even the recent nForce and VIA chipsets exhibit the same legacy audio compatibility levels as the earlier ones (without DDMA), even though the newer southbridges have much more features than the earlier ones. I don't have much information about recent Intel chipsets for now... but maybe ICHx chipsets will work with those cards, as from the post you mentioned, it was possible to enable SERR# to NMI routing on them which allows SB Live! to partially funtion... and also that industrial motherboards using 945/965 and ICHx chipset with slave ISA ports do exist.

As far as I know 440BX and 815 have the best legacy compatibility for PCI sound cards, and most DOS drivers for those legacy PCI audio cards are built around them, like YMF7x4's. So these motherboards are still recommended if you want to play most DOS games with sound and without issues.

In the end, although back then some sound card chip makers claimed their audio cards support legacy DOS games without the need of Distributed DMA (DDMA), and even that ESS claimed their Transparent DMA (TDMA) was chipset-independent... it all turned out to be wrong in practice... and I still have no idea how they achieved that back then on early motherboards...
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby d1stortion » 2013-4-17 @ 11:01

LSS10999 wrote:Looks like you're right that using HWInfo32 to see if a board has ISA support is not accurate... for some reasons some current AMD boards (800/900 series chipset) do show ISA Support Present when checking with HWInfo32

Look up Low Pin Count.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby LSS10999 » 2013-4-17 @ 11:19

d1stortion wrote:Look up Low Pin Count.


There is a LPC bridge listed in HWiNFO64 for AMD 700/800/900 series' southbridges. Every current motherboard should have one. It has something to do with the implementations, I think...
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby Jorpho » 2013-4-17 @ 13:27

For the record, my TUSL2-C reports a "Super-IO/LPC Chip" of "Winbond/Nuvoton W83627SF".

LSS10999 wrote:Haven't checked here for several years.
Thanks for stopping by. :)
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby LSS10999 » 2013-4-18 @ 14:16

I just got myself a GA-P31-DS3L (P31/ICH7) to test out. No good for ICH7 (and all the current ICHx).

FM/Adlib only, no sound on ESS and FM801. YMF7x4 and CS4281 drivers will not load, the drivers cannot detect their presence.

The only card that can play digitized sound fairly okay on it is Aureal Vortex (AU8820), though I don't think the compatibility is good enough as it still has some problems with some games...

I cannot make detailed tests but that's the most about the legacy compatibility on ICHx I can test.

In the end, only Aureal sound cards can make digitized sound at least working on most current motherboards, while I experienced some unusual loop on nForce motherboards...

And it seems SERR to NMI routing have nothing to do with the way the sound card will actually function in DOS, while some drivers (such as SB Live!'s DOS driver) do need it to be properly loaded. But from the cards I have none actually needed SERR to NMI routing in order to be able to load and work.

And from this whitepaper I just found, looks like Intel did not support Distributed DMA on ICHx (the Intel Express Chipset) to begin with, and support for PC-PCI was only up to ICH5.
http://www.intel.com/assets/pdf/whitepaper/318244.pdf
This one is dated September 2007 and covered ICH6 to ICH9.

Jorpho wrote:For the record, my TUSL2-C reports a "Super-IO/LPC Chip" of "Winbond/Nuvoton W83627SF".


All boards have SuperIO/LPC chips for certain common interfaces to function... but highly doubt that they all will have the necessary things to make legacy PCI devices to function.

Even there are some ICH7/8 based industrial motherboards that do have ISA, they are all slave slots without DMA as perhaps most ISA devices used for industrial purposes do not need it... and it is not possible to make ISA master slots on them...

So it is all about PC-PCI and Distributed DMA in the end... but I'm still surprised how VIA managed to retain some of the compatibility on their latest southbridges (VT823x, in K8T890's case, VT8237R/A) to make at least ESS PCI audio cards able to function nearly flawlessly without actually using DDMA...

EDIT: Apparently there was a document about implementing legacy audio on the PCI bus ( http://intel-vintage-developer.eu5.org/ ... EG_PCI.PDF )... haven't read it thoroughly yet but hope it helps understanding...
Last edited by LSS10999 on 2013-4-19 @ 04:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby NamelessPlayer » 2013-4-18 @ 16:07

Intel ICH southbridges have problems with PCM/digital audio samples on PCI sound cards? Huh...I don't seem to have much issue with digital audio on my 875P/ICH5R-based retrogaming system.

Then again, the PCI card of choice for Win9x games on said system is Aureal Vortex2-based, and I don't even use its SB Pro emulation because the motherboard just happens to have an industrial one with an ISA slot that plays nicely with an AWE64 Gold, even in native DOS mode.

Seems like ICH5 is the end of the line for ISA DMA support, though, so the fastest we can expect from a computer with native ISA is a Socket 478 Pentium 4.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby Tertz » 2016-4-28 @ 17:48

As the theme is mainly about hardware support by PCI cards of ISA standards, the better place for the theme is in Marvin where similar themes exist.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby Jo22 » 2016-4-28 @ 21:48

LSS10999 wrote: CMI8738 was said to support DOS, but in fact, it doesn't. Even those onboard CMI8738/9739 that existed on some motherboards don't seem to support DOS properly, while the drivers will not load and saying cannot find PCI device on newer boards.


Funny, that you mention this one. I wrote an article (or "experience report") about this in 2010, but never posted it here on Vogons.
I just didn't feel comfortable doing so. Was afraid of critics, I think..
Anyway, here it is, maybe there's still something usable within..
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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby Tertz » 2016-4-29 @ 09:02

Jo22 wrote:Anyway, here it is, maybe there's still something usable within..


It will be better if you'll create the thread with your article. Such people may add you additional info and you'll can make editing of the article.
The other thread about CMI8738 is there: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=36445
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby Jo22 » 2016-4-29 @ 09:57

Thank you, Tertz. That means a lot to me.
I still don't know if I should do it, though.
Don't want to make people angry.. I've already posted to much in the last days, I'm afraid.
Wasn't really on Vogons for years before this and missed a lot (DOSBox switched from CVS to SVN, for example).
Plus, I grew up in a 16Bit world of SNES and 286 machines. While others were fans of 386 coding and whatnot.
So whenever I post something, it may violates popular belief, which is bad.
Like questioning if EMM386 is being mandatory for running games in DOS or me recommending an EMS card (hardware EMS was my only choice back then).
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby bootlogger » 2016-5-10 @ 01:21

Thanks LSS10999 for the very helpful guide.

I recently came about a Yamaha YMF-724F PCI sound card, and I'm trying to get it working on a relatively recent PC... one that doesn't have a PCI slot (yep). I found out a cheap PCIe to PCI adapter eBay so I decided to give it a shot. The motherboard is a Gigabyte micro-ATX board that has a Z68 chipset, model GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3.

I use Linux and kernel 3.13.0 does recognize the card correctly, and it gets initialized as an ALSA device so I can play music through it. However the initialization logic for the OPL3 chip fails, as reported by dmesg:

Code: Select all
...
[    4.031222] OPL2/3 chip not detected at 0x388/0x38a
[    4.031223] ymfpci: cannot initialize FM OPL3 at 0x388, skipping...
[    4.045865] gameport gameport0: Yamaha YMF Gameport is pci0000:03:05.0/gameport0, io 0x201, speed 1085kHz
...


So I cannot talk to the FM synth, which is the real beauty of this card.

I've tried a few things, like changing the OPL3 port in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf but I always get the same result. These are the settings I'm currently using:

Code: Select all
options snd-ymfpci index=0 joystick_port=0x201 mpu_port=0x330 fm_port=0x388


I was about to give up, realizing that this was a bad idea in the first place, but then took a glance at /proc/ioports. And there it is!

Code: Select all
...
  0201-0201 : YMFPCI gameport
  0290-029f : pnp 00:00
    0290-0294 : pnp 00:00
  0330-0331 : YMFPCI MPU401
  0388-038b : YMFPCI OPL3
  03c0-03df : vga+
...


So how come the chip be registered at the right address and still not get detected? Would it be possible that somewhere in the PCIe to PCI connection the card is losing the ability to send or receive data through the FM port?

Also, considering that the kernel does load the gameport without a problem, it seems like there's something else going on... Any other ideas that I could try? Would a PC/PCI connector help in this case?

Thanks everyone in advance.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby tyrell » 2016-5-10 @ 07:55

Having said all that, I believe DOSBox tops them all in terms of flexibility, compatibility, cost and easy of use. OPL FM Music and digital speech / sound effect work perfectly and are extremely if not totally authentic, plus external Roland MT-32 MIDI modules are also 100% supported through the use of USB MIDI adapters.


Yes, Dosbox is very flexible ... but is not compatible with a number of games, and at the same time, FM emulation, while good, is no match for a real Yamaha OPL sound card.
So this is a very good solution for those who do not want to fiddle with a real pc and who love its ease of use. The others (like me) will prefer to play with a real machine.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby nukeykt » 2016-5-12 @ 10:16

bootlogger wrote:So how come the chip be registered at the right address and still not get detected? Would it be possible that somewhere in the PCIe to PCI connection the card is losing the ability to send or receive data through the FM port?

Also, considering that the kernel does load the gameport without a problem, it seems like there's something else going on... Any other ideas that I could try? Would a PC/PCI connector help in this case?

Thanks everyone in advance.

As far as i know, PCIe doesn't support any legacy ports(it supports only >=portbase) and ymf724 doesn't support FM on PCI range(althought 744, 754 support custom FM port, according to linux sources). So it is impossible to get FM working on PCIe or PCIe to PCI bridge slot.
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Re: PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers...

Postby bootlogger » 2016-5-12 @ 19:00

khokh2001 wrote:As far as i know, PCIe doesn't support any legacy ports(it supports only >=portbase) and ymf724 doesn't support FM on PCI range(althought 744, 754 support custom FM port, according to linux sources). So it is impossible to get FM working on PCIe or PCIe to PCI bridge slot.


Thanks for clarifying that!

Now, when you say "ymf724 doesn't support FM on PCI range" did you mean "PCIe range", right? Otherwise it would mean that the ymf724 doesn't support its included FM chip even on a regular PCI slot!
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