VOGONS


First post, by Prez

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Hi guys !

I hope everyone is fine.
I got my hands on a "tiny" Pentium4 system with of course no DOS soundcard integrated but a common and useless for me AC97 soundchip :
http://theretroweb.com/hardware/motherboards/ … -p4r8l-pundit-r

Still the system is nice to play old windows games and i wanted to add a DOS compatible PCI soundcard like an ESS Solo-1, Yamaha YMF744 or even an ALS 4000.
But no luck, nothing works. Can't get the Yamaha setupds to work, the Solo-1 is not recognized, and the ALS4000 seems to be working and initializing nicely (with a A220 I7 D1 T6 etc setting) but give me nice FM music but no PCM sound at all. First time i see this.

I believe the "strange" ATI chipset used here might be the cause, but does someone got the same problems as me ? Do i have to totally forgot a DOS sound compatible PCI card in this machine ?

Best regards
Prez

Old computers and videogames freak
President of french association https://mo5.com
Get better, get old ! 😁

Reply 1 of 4, by foil_fresh

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Without knowing for certain, I'd bet my life savings on it being the chipset. With nForce chipsets of the same era, they don't support the features necessary to run the TSRs which emulate DMA which DOS games rely on for digital audio.

Any P4 motherboard with an Intel chipset (i845, i865) will be a much better option for success with PCI sound cards in DOS. There are still compatibility issues with speed sensitive games but more modern DOS games will work fine. I have an i845 board running Win9x and Doom engine games as well as Build engine games work fine on a Vortex 2 PCI card. These motherboards are still rather easy to find and not so expensive.

I am unsure if SiS or VIA chipsets are useful in this application, but it's probably best to avoid them too.

Reply 2 of 4, by Prez

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Hi !
Yes it's a bit sad.
A very interesting document on the matter is the readme.txt file of the DOS driver of an ALS4000 :

ALS4000 DOS initializer by saka <als4k@anet.ne.jp>

ALS4000 sound chip have SBPro/SB16 compatible function in hardware (only 8bit-DMA, VIBRA16 compatible).
We need no TSR, no HIMEM.SYS, no EMM386.EXE for SB compatibility.

# Usage

Keep interrupt 5 or 7 (or 10, 11) free, and set the IRQ number to ALS4KDOS.CFG.

Run als4kdos.exe from prompt in pure DOS,
or
run it in autoexec.bat.

example of autoexec.bat
---
SET PATH=C:\foo;D:\bar;

als4kdos.exe
call a4setenv.bat

---
(als4kdos.exe will create "a4setenv.bat")

# following chipsets work
AMD 750
AMD 761 / VIA VT82C686B (tested by Q)
Intel 430TX
Intel 440BX
SiS 630
SiS 730
SiS 735
SiS 745
SiS650 / SiS961
VIA ApolloPro133
VIA PLE133

# probably will work
SiS 540/630/730 or later
VIA ApolloPro/PLE/KLE/KT133 or later

# NOT work
Intel i810
Intel i815 (tested by NOG)

# will NOT work
Intel i810 or later

(Intel i810 or later do not support Distributed DMA for legacy DMA support for PCI.
If you want SBPro function in pure DOS on Intel i8xx based motherboard, try Fortemedia FM801.
FM801's writeback DMA emulation method may work on Intel i8xx.)

# unknown
ALi
ATI
NVIDIA

Old computers and videogames freak
President of french association https://mo5.com
Get better, get old ! 😁

Reply 3 of 4, by LSS10999

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foil_fresh wrote on 2022-04-08, 01:13:

Without knowing for certain, I'd bet my life savings on it being the chipset. With nForce chipsets of the same era, they don't support the features necessary to run the TSRs which emulate DMA which DOS games rely on for digital audio.

Any P4 motherboard with an Intel chipset (i845, i865) will be a much better option for success with PCI sound cards in DOS. There are still compatibility issues with speed sensitive games but more modern DOS games will work fine. I have an i845 board running Win9x and Doom engine games as well as Build engine games work fine on a Vortex 2 PCI card. These motherboards are still rather easy to find and not so expensive.

All Intel chipsets since i8xx don't have DDMA, but should have what it takes to utilize the vendor proprietary DMA modes, though I'm not entirely sure.

i8xx chipsets have PC-PCI support but from what I know that usually needs to be connected physically. On the other hand, there are boards with fully functional ISA slots using i8xx chipsets.

All nForce chipsets appear to behave quite similar to Intel i9xx and onwards (only FM synth works, SFX either doesn't work or hangs). Aureal sound cards, however, could work on those but compatibility is uncertain.

foil_fresh wrote on 2022-04-08, 01:13:

I am unsure if SiS or VIA chipsets are useful in this application, but it's probably best to avoid them too.

ESS Solo-1 works with ALL VIA chipsets (TDMA/DDMA), including the PCIe ones (TDMA), and has excellent compatibility. I'm not sure about ALS4000's compatibility, though.

ATI (now AMD) chipsets are quite unlikely. I tried a couple of boards ranging from 700-900 series, games report no Sound Blaster even after loading the TSRs. 600 (ATI) or 700 series had a small mention in their datasheet about some possible SMI triggers on legacy audio I/O ports (and some other ones) but I don't think any manufacturer ever bothered about it in the BIOS. That mention was removed from 800 series and onwards.

I don't have boards with SIS chipsets so I'm not sure about them.

EDIT: Just checked the board. ATI RS350/IXP200... probably falls to the same category as other ATI (now AMD) chipsets.

Reply 4 of 4, by foil_fresh

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LSS10999 wrote on 2022-04-08, 07:18:
All Intel chipsets since i8xx don't have DDMA, but should have what it takes to utilize the vendor proprietary DMA modes, though […]
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foil_fresh wrote on 2022-04-08, 01:13:

Without knowing for certain, I'd bet my life savings on it being the chipset. With nForce chipsets of the same era, they don't support the features necessary to run the TSRs which emulate DMA which DOS games rely on for digital audio.

Any P4 motherboard with an Intel chipset (i845, i865) will be a much better option for success with PCI sound cards in DOS. There are still compatibility issues with speed sensitive games but more modern DOS games will work fine. I have an i845 board running Win9x and Doom engine games as well as Build engine games work fine on a Vortex 2 PCI card. These motherboards are still rather easy to find and not so expensive.

All Intel chipsets since i8xx don't have DDMA, but should have what it takes to utilize the vendor proprietary DMA modes, though I'm not entirely sure.

i8xx chipsets have PC-PCI support but from what I know that usually needs to be connected physically. On the other hand, there are boards with fully functional ISA slots using i8xx chipsets.

All nForce chipsets appear to behave quite similar to Intel i9xx and onwards (only FM synth works, SFX either doesn't work or hangs). Aureal sound cards, however, could work on those but compatibility is uncertain.

foil_fresh wrote on 2022-04-08, 01:13:

I am unsure if SiS or VIA chipsets are useful in this application, but it's probably best to avoid them too.

ESS Solo-1 works with ALL VIA chipsets (TDMA/DDMA), including the PCIe ones (TDMA), and has excellent compatibility. I'm not sure about ALS4000's compatibility, though.

ATI (now AMD) chipsets are quite unlikely. I tried a couple of boards ranging from 700-900 series, games report no Sound Blaster even after loading the TSRs. 600 (ATI) or 700 series had a small mention in their datasheet about some possible SMI triggers on legacy audio I/O ports (and some other ones) but I don't think any manufacturer ever bothered about it in the BIOS. That mention was removed from 800 series and onwards.

I don't have boards with SIS chipsets so I'm not sure about them.

EDIT: Just checked the board. ATI RS350/IXP200... probably falls to the same category as other ATI (now AMD) chipsets.

nice, good to know about the VIA chipsets. i really need to try an ess solo-1 one day, they appear to be very useful and capable.