VOGONS


First post, by raviol

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Hello! I'm new to the forum and to the PCem world too.

I'm looking to play my favorite old games from the XP era but I always had plenty of issues. VmWare and VirtualBox were good options but a lot of games have issues, so I bought an old Pentium 4 computer, tried different hardware and still had issues with most of my games.

So I found this PCem thing and I think it could be my best solution, so I was looking something similar to what is asked in this post.

What should be the best possible hardware to emulate in order to run WinXp?

I have a very powerfull machine (Ryzen 9 5900x, 32GB ram, RTX 3080) so it shouldn't be an issue. I have seen recommendations of using Pentium MMX or I, but is it possible to emulate a Pentium 3 in example? Also I checked out x86box and found similar options.

Thanks in advance.

Reply 1 of 11, by Gmlb256

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raviol wrote on 2023-02-11, 15:52:

I have seen recommendations of using Pentium MMX or I, but is it possible to emulate a Pentium 3 in example?

The reason is that both PCem and 86Box requires a CPU with very fast single threaded performance as they attempt to be more accurate than DOSBox. Later CPUs aren't an easy task to emulate while avoiding slowdowns.

VIA C3 Nehemiah 1.2A @ 1.46 GHz | ASUS P2-99 | 256 MB PC133 SDRAM | GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MB | Voodoo2 12 MB | SBLive! | AWE64 | SBPro2 | GUS

Reply 2 of 11, by Jo22

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Gmlb256 wrote on 2023-02-11, 17:24:

Later CPUs aren't an easy task to emulate while avoiding slowdowns.

I think the same. That's why a simple, but quick CPU design can be worth a try.

Or in other words, the complexity of the real CPU in real life would eventually lead to improving performance.
However, emulating said complexity in a simulated CPU doesn't lead to an increase in simulated performance.

A simple 486 design with a 200 MHz clock rate, executing 1 instruction per cycle, that has RAM access at the CPU speed, could be emulated
with a lower CPU load than a standard Pentium at 75 MHz, maybe.

And if the software doesn't make use of extended features (emulated FPU, emulated MMX), it would perhaps even be faster running than on the emulated Pentium with correct timings and emulated cache.

Edit: That makes me wonder.. Why don't have 86Box/PCem an extra "Quick CPU™" in the processor list ?
A fake 486 or 586, essentially, with unrealistic quick instructions timings?

The Cyrix emulation could be modified for this purpose, maybe.
With a separate Clock field to type in the cycle rate (DOSBox style) or MHz (PCem like).

Cyrix CPUs essentially were like this in real life, anyway,
so it's not even fake per se (alternatively, use a planned but never
released efficient Cyrix prototype as a goal to emulate here).

Such a CPU would help all those users who either don't have a powerful CPU
yet or who are trying to emulate a setup which no powerful CPU exists for right now.

Edit: I'm sorry, I got carried away a bit while thinking about the issue. 😅

"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 3 of 11, by leileilol

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XP is a little rough on any of the guests (XP released while Pentium 4 was at 1.8GHz and AMD Athlon XP >1GHz, PCem covers up to K6-III 550 from 2000), but it'll run. It'll have a long detection process on first boot that'll be slow as like a real 6th gen PC running XP would, which WILL bring the "wow xp too slow!" impressions, but it's normal.

PCem shines more on getting Win9x to work better than a virtualizer since it emulates more varied 90s hardware from the time (ATI Mach cards, Cirrus 54xx cards, Tseng cards, ISA Sound Blasters, GUS, WSS, Aztech, ViRGE, four different Voodoo cards), as well as the low-level CPU emulation with timing gets things working more. XP is from when most of that hardware were already obsoleted, and the best outofbox experience is had with emulating a Voodoo3 and an AudioPCI ES1371/SBPCI128 as they're the closest to modern hardware for having integrated 2D/3D/overlays and PCI sound with sound acceleration features (...sort of).

Also XP's broken-ness for being the mainstream public gateway to the WinNT world (coupled with nVidia drivers breaking stuff) is how Vogons really got started. 😀

apsosig.png
long live PCem

Reply 4 of 11, by Jo22

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leileilol wrote on 2023-02-11, 22:27:

PCem shines more on getting Win9x to work better than a virtualizer since it emulates more varied 90s hardware from the time

Except Virtual PC, I think. I have several versions tested, including their emulator versions on Power Mac (with Voodoo 1 or 2 pass-through).

The partially broken SB16 emulation and
the lack of an integrated Voodoo emulation aside, Virual PC was near perfect.

Okay, the missing USB support was sad, as well. The Mac versions had it all the time.

I think if Virtual PC for Macintosh was ported to PC, maybe updated, it would certainly have the chance to blow both PCem/86Box out of the water.
It had all the useful features even back in the 90s.
It even had Pentium II emulation.

Same goes for SoftWindows 98: It was very capable. 🙂👍

Here's an article that supports my opinion that Virtual PC wasn't that bad.
https://86box.net/2022/03/21/why-not-p3.html

If the OP runs Windows 8 on his monster PC, Virtual PC may still be run.
There also was the "XP-Mode" release for Windows Virtual PC..

The huge CPU power available to the XP guest could be used to compensate the lack of 3D support.

Maybe some DirectX or OpenGL software render could be installed.
There were multiple projects like this in the early 2000s.
That Mesa OpenGL thing could be useful, maybe.

leileilol wrote on 2023-02-11, 22:27:

Also XP's broken-ness for being the mainstream public gateway to the WinNT world (coupled with nVidia drivers breaking stuff) is how Vogons really got started. 😀

I'm completely irrelevant, of course, but I must say I liked Windows XP from the beginning, it gave my last Windows 98SE PCs a new life (back then).
It's like a version of Windows 2000 with added Windows 9x application compatibility, I think.

Edit: Back in the 2000s, personally, I discovered Vogons Zetafleet because of DOSBox, mainly.
However, at least one "friend" of mine was fascinated by VDMSound, so I gave it a try, too.
In the end, I kept using VDMSound for all the demanding things that I couldn't emulate in DOSBox due to the lack of CPU power.

In some way or another, the issue still remains.
I'm still using Virtual PC, because 86Box/PCem are too demanding - like DOSBox was back when I used VDMSound.

PCem/86box are fascinating, but they always continue to limit me because
they require high-end Gamer PCs with gigantic heatsinks.
A humble server or office PC could do just as good, if it only was allowed to use virtualization.
(The removal of XP support on the host side in in 86Box in 2019 or so was sad, too.)

I really hope PCem/86box will one day make use of hardware-assisted virtualization (optionally).
It's a shame that all PCs have that feature since ~2005 or so but it's not used.

Especially the advanced versions with IOMMU would allow neat things without worrying about things like the absence of V86 in Long-Mode.
With AMD-V or Intel-VT, there's no need for V86 anymore - because they *are* V86, just magnitudes better.

Edit: I know I was generally speaking and not answering the OPs questions directly.
Because, I simply can't. I have no hardware at hand to run current versions of PCem/86Box, anymore.
None of my XP/7 laptops can run them anymore, either.

Both versions, PCem and 86Box, got more and more hostile against Windows XP PCs over the years.
I'm afraid both their code is so bloated by now, that they wouldn't even run on my Xeon processor anymore.

Even if Windows XP was still supported as a host OS, which it isn't, sadly.
So all I can do is speaking about concepts and hope that it may be useful to the OP.

Edit: I've just did a quick check. The The OP's Ryzen CPU has about four times the single-core performance of a Pentium 4, Xeon 5150 or AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600

https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-P … 0X/m11003vs4087
https://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/AMD-Ath … 00X/m2246vs4087
https://technical.city/de/cpu/Xeon-5150-vs-Ryzen-9-5900X

Not sure if that's enough to get 86Box/PCem running as fast as needed.
But it might be enough for a Pentium II, I suppose.

I had trouble emulating anything higher than a fast 486 with the AMD Athlon 64 X2..
Sure, that was a while ago.. PCem v11 was it. But did PCem really evolve so much for the better since ?

Currently, about the fastest I can emulate with my Xeon 5150 PC is a Pentium MMX (PCem v12).
That's all I can say about the matter, no idea if its useful. If not, please just ignore this posting and go on.

Edit: Or let me put it this way - If a high-end PC can run bsnes or Higan fluently, then it should handle PCem/86Box nicely, too. 😁
Edit: I've just read the Higan article at Wikipedia.. I'm both shocked and depressed to hear what had happened to the developer. Why? 😢

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    Almost at full speed - Emulating a quick 486 on an Athlon 64 X2 (2016)
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Last edited by Jo22 on 2023-02-13, 15:08. Edited 5 times in total.

"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 5 of 11, by Duffman

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Just run XP bare metal if you need it, I do that for my Ryzen 5950X system.

MB: ASRock B550 Steel Legend
CPU: Ryzen 9 5950X
RAM: Corsair 64GB Kit (4x16GB) DDR4 Veng LPX C18 4000MHz
SSDs: 2x Crucial MX500 1TB SATA + 1x Samsung 980 (non-pro) 1TB NVMe SSD
OSs: Win 11 Pro (NVMe) + WinXP Pro SP3 (SATA)
GPU: RTX2070 (11) GT730 (XP)

Reply 6 of 11, by Jo22

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Duffman wrote on 2023-02-12, 15:07:

Just run XP bare metal if you need it, I do that for my Ryzen 5950X system.

Hi there! I think it's possible to run XP itself just fine in emulation per se.
It can run on about the same hardware as Windows 98SE, after all;
they were released two years apart, merely.

In fact, there's a screenshot of XP on the official homepage (attached) from long ago (v10)..
That's a bit older than my first XP machine, even (Pentium MMX 166 was the official minimum requirement).

But the problem are the expectations, I think.. In 2023 we're all spoiled at bit.

Gamers, at the turn of the millennium, loved to run Windows 98SE on a Pentium 3 at 733 MHz
with a Geforce 2, and a SoundMaxx on-board sound card and a 17" SVGA CRT..

(I know first person, because my father/family accidental had such a similar high-end system in 2000.)

Anything less is seen as too low-tech for those who want to re-create the gaming experience of old.

So in the end, it doesn't matter so much if it's about running Windows 98SE or XP.
Windows XP has a higher RAM requirement (say, 64MB more than 98SE) and likes to see a Pentium MMX or higher CPU.

Otherwise, XP (SP0/SP1) isn't that demanding on same hardware.

From my experience, it even is more stable and less jerky acting under heavy load.
It still keeps going under circumstances that break Windows 98SE.

Just give it a quick HDD interface to work with. SCSI or IDE with UDMA.. 😀

Edit: @raviol Why you don't you just try out several emulated PC configurations ? 😁
Both this thread and the original thread do at least provide some safe bets that should work. 👍
From there on, you can upgrade the configuration until the emulation speed goes below 100%.

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"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 11, by Norton Commander

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XP is doable in PCEM but not recommended for optimal experience.

Here is how I setup PCEM 17 to run XP:

512 MB
3DFX Voodoo 3 3000
Fast VLB/PCI
Voodoo Graphics box ticked
Ensoniq AudioPCI (ES1371)
Standard IDE
Network card: RTL8029AS

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Performance is not great.

Dxdiag successfully completes all DirectDraw/Direct3D/Directsound tests.

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Oops captured mouse cursor from VM and host 😜

Only one unknown device in device manager, I have it disabled because it kept prompting for drivers with every reboot.

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Your choice of web browsers will be limited to those that don't require SSE2 so PaleMoon or Opera 12.x variants.

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Network speed is currently limited to 10Mb/s but the fastest download speeds I could get were about 80KB/s. Forget Youtube or other video sites, they stutter horribly.

The only games I recommend running are the ones included with XP (Solitaire, Space Cadet Pinball, Minesweeper etc.). I tried running WinVice emulator and got max 17FPS.

For XP gaming your best bet is a rig that will run XP natively although that's getting more difficult due to the lack of driver support. A virtualizer with hardware acceleration support is something I always suggest because you will get the best gaming performance depending on the host PC specs.

This was just an experment to test the PCEM's limitations. Advantages? No installation required, portable, can be run from USB flash drive.

Reply 8 of 11, by Jo22

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^Cool, thanks for testing! 😎👍

I see that the emulation is a Pentium II @400 Mhz.
Back in early 2000, I didn't dare to dream about that, despite that Pentium III 733 MHz being in the house.
Personally, I had a humble Pentium 166 MMX PC with 64 MB RAM and a SCSI HDD.

It was running 98SE, but it had issues with all sorts of emulators. So I installed Windows XP SP0 or SP1, not sure. And that fixed it.

The system crawled, but not the applications. They ran as good as on Windows 98SE, if not better.

Since you mentioned WinVice.. I have fond memories of running SNES9x on that Pentium MMX 166 w/ XP.
Frame skip was on auto, I believe. Still, Tiny Toons Adventures ran smoothly. It was really fun, thanks to XP.

Btw, the memory settings aren't ideal. Please try 768 MB instead of 512 MB.
SP2 is a bit memory hungry and needs more RAM than early XP to run smoothly.

Also disable ClearType and configure XP that it will draw outlines only if windows are being moved. That helps a bit.
The animations for maximize/minimize can be disabled, too. It will make the GDI+ based GUI run a bit snappier.

"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 9 of 11, by konc

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I also recommend running XP on real hardware that can still be found in great numbers and for little money. If you invest the time you'd spend setting up the virtualized/emulated environment in researching the right hardware for your needs I'm sure you'll get good results. It just doesn't make sense to have issues "with most of your games from the XP era" as you wrote using XP era hardware, something was off.

Reply 10 of 11, by Norton Commander

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Jo22 wrote on 2023-04-10, 20:28:
Since you mentioned WinVice.. I have fond memories of running SNES9x on that Pentium MMX 166 w/ XP. Frame skip was on auto, I be […]
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Since you mentioned WinVice.. I have fond memories of running SNES9x on that Pentium MMX 166 w/ XP.
Frame skip was on auto, I believe. Still, Tiny Toons Adventures ran smoothly. It was really fun, thanks to XP.

Btw, the memory settings aren't ideal. Please try 768 MB instead of 512 MB.
SP2 is a bit memory hungry and needs more RAM than early XP to run smoothly.

PCEM limits the amount you can set to 512MB - fortunately you can manually edit the VM's CFG file to bypass this limit. Look for the value mem_size and modify it (value is in bytes). I tried setting it to 1 GB but the virtual machine wouldn't even start so I set it to 768 MB and it worked.

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I fired up SNES9W and was impressed that it was playable (I have the FPS turned on in the lower left corner).

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So looks like you can run old school console emulators in XP/PCEM. I haven't tried any 3D FPS types but I doubt they would be playable.

Maybe when I have more time I'll try some other games and post results. Still, very cool that XP can run somewhat smoothly in PCEM. I like to fire it up just to watch the XP 3D screensaver.

https://streamable.com/eskoa

Microsoft has purged all XP downloads from its site but somehow this one was overlooked.

http://download.microsoft.com/download/whistl … 3DwindowsXP.exe

I tried everything to get this running on other Windows versions but it only works in XP. Maybe some of you more experienced hackers can figure it out.

konc wrote on 2023-04-11, 06:07:

I also recommend running XP on real hardware that can still be found in great numbers and for little money. If you invest the time you'd spend setting up the virtualized/emulated environment in researching the right hardware for your needs I'm sure you'll get good results. It just doesn't make sense to have issues "with most of your games from the XP era" as you wrote using XP era hardware, something was off.

Getting XP running in VMWare is much much easier than on a real PC. I've done it several times. There are absolutely ZERO driver headaches and you will get full hardware acceleration and performance depending on the host machines specs. No new hardware will have XP support so Virtualization is the only choice. I'm on a different forum that's XP centric and the biggest gripe is finding driver support for any new hardware or in other cases, older hardware that has been abandoned by the manufacturer.

Reply 11 of 11, by Norton Commander

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Not to hijack this thread but I decided to try 86Box with XP. It has more options for CPU such as Pentium II XEON, 100MB NIC and no 512MB RAM limit.

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For some reason XP picked up the XEON as a Celeron but there is defintely a difference in performance especially the extra RAM and fast ethernet. Now I get download speeds of 1.5MB/s which is critical because neither PCEM nor 86Box have a shared folders option so you are reliant on ethernet to transfer back and forth between the host machine.

I haven't thoroughly tested but seems like a better option for guests that require more RAM than 512MB.