VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Getting old DOS games working. (DOSBox topics belong in DOSBox areas below, not here).

VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby chuzzlewit » 2005-10-24 @ 23:17

I got a new MOBO nearly a year ago and have just started wanting to fire up some of my older games. The most reliable fallback method on my previous PC was to create a good old DOS boot disk. I'm quite happy to do this again, but I need DOS sound drivers for the integrated sound chip (VIA AC97). I've trawled around but I can't find anything.

The sound chip is a VIA 3058 an dthe chipset Via8237 southbridge.
The closest I've found is some DOS drivers on the VIA website, but they tell me to enable "onboard legacy audio" from the BIOS. Trouble is, I only have Auto or Disabled as options.

I've tried using DOSbox and it's sort of OK, but still a bit choppy after all the tuning suggestions. I really don't mind rebooting to play a game, and it's very frustrating having a much faster machine which does less.

My only idea left is to get a cheap PCI sound card for which I can get DOS drivers (any suggestions?). My old soundcard is ISA and guess what, no ISA slots.

Any suggestions gratefully received!!

Thanks
Martin

AMD Sempron 2600
Motherboard : Foxconn KT600-8237
System : VIA KT600-8237
BIOS : Phoenix 6.00 PG
Memory : 255 MB
Sound : VIA AC'97 Audio (WAVE)
Video : NVIDIA GeForce2 MX/MX 400 (32MB ELSA Gladiac 511)
Operating System : Windows 98 SE

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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby Mike » 2005-10-24 @ 23:51

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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby chuzzlewit » 2005-10-25 @ 00:28

I'll try this tomorrow and if it works I will have your baby :happyhappy:
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby eL_PuSHeR » 2005-10-25 @ 07:49

I keep booting into real ms-dos less and less nowadays, mainly because I have all partitions using NTFS filesystem. I strongly advise you to try DOSBox if you haven't already done so.
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby chuzzlewit » 2005-10-25 @ 13:04

Unfortunately this, like some of the other options I’ve found, say that you have to put the chip into “SoundBlaster” or “legacy” mode via the BIOS. Unfortunately my bios only offers “Auto” or “Disabled”.
I’ll keep looking for a separate PCI soundcard with DOS drivers (although such a beast may not exist, if it does it should cost me virtually nothing!). I read elsewhere that DOS has trouble accessing PCI cards full stop, so I may have no option other than to press on with DOSbox.

The other option VDMsound I understand is designed for NT based systems.

Many thanks for everyone taking the time to reply.

Regards,
Martin
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby alexanrs » 2005-10-25 @ 16:32

Have you already tried to update your bios... maybe the updated one will shou the "Legacy" thing.
Some vendors hide some options they think that are dangerous... you can also try dumping your bios to a BIN file and use some bios editor to try to unhide them
Also, maybe it is enabled by default in the "Auto" option. In my computer I never had to set this option (although my DOS drivers do not tell me to). You may try using the drivers the way your system is
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby HunterZ » 2005-10-25 @ 16:53

You can also hit Ctrl+F1 at the main screen in the setup for some BIOSes to unlock advanced options.
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby 5u3 » 2005-10-28 @ 00:12

The legacy sound option was available on older VIA chipsets, like the 686B southbridge. Seems they discontinued this nifty feature in their newer products.
You didn't even need DOS drivers for this onboard soundcard, all you had to do is to set the BLASTER environment variable and it worked! The drawback was that it only emulated a SB Pro - no 16bit sound under DOS, but better than no sound at all :wink:

I'm not aware of any PCI card that comes with a decent SoundBlaster emulation for DOS. The least ugly solution would be an Ensonic AudioPCI or early SoundBlaster PCI card. They are said to have useable DOS emulation, but it doesn't work with games that refuse to run in protected mode.
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby swaaye » 2005-10-28 @ 01:36

All Creative cards have decent DOS support. The LIVE and Audigy cards use the same DOS drivers as the AUDIOPCI.
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby DosFreak » 2005-10-28 @ 01:42

Define "decent".

Emulation if not necessary (ie running the game in DOS) is most definetly not decent....
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby eL_PuSHeR » 2005-10-28 @ 08:08

I have seen lots of Creative drivers for DOS that required EMM386 and would not work properly without it. That's crappy programming.
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby 5u3 » 2005-10-28 @ 13:18

Creating a PCI sound card that is fully SoundBlaster compatible is impossible, such a card could not operate within PCI specs, as the old SB "standard" is based on technology that is not present in PCI.

Asus made some half-hearted efforts with their infamous media-slot (basically a PCI slot with additional legacy connections), and some chipset manufacturers supported SB on their chipsets (which is easy, as long as the sound chip and the board chipset stay together on one piece of hardware).

Writing a SB software emulation for MS-DOS, which has no real memory management is a rather complicated task. Processors of the late 90's did not have enough power to abstract the whole thing and run the game at the same time at a reasonable speed. Doing it in protected mode is easier, but you lose compatibilty with quite a few games.

There are only two ways to cope with this mess: Either use the "real thing", which means a ISA rig with a legacy SoundBlaster card, or use DosBox on a machine that is fast enough.
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby swaaye » 2005-10-28 @ 19:21

DosFreak wrote:Define "decent".


Decent as in you CAN get it to work with varying degrees of difficulty.

ISA non-PNP is by far the easiest, and most compatible card you can get. A SBPRO or SB16 in this category = EASIEST possible for DOS games. SBPRO and down does not require ANY drivers at all to work. SB16 has a few setup programs that are very small TSRs.

SBAWE, SB32 are available in non-pnp versions and are very nice cards unless you find a protected mode DOS game without native AWE support. Then you're stuck using the FM synthesis of the SB16 portion. I don't recommend AWE or SB32 for DOS MIDI mainly because of this, and the fact that AWEUTIL sorta sucks in general (huge, buggy), and due to the 1MB ROM being awful. Still, nice thing about all Creative AWE ISA cards is that they are really just SB16s with an EMU8000 synthesizer tacked on. So you can always choose SB16 in a game.

ISA PNP. Requires Creative's CTCM program to set up ISA resources such as IRQ, DMA, and port addresses. Usually very simple but there's potential for weird assignments. No TSRs until you get to AWE cards where again there is AWEUtil for MPU401 emulation.

AWE64 is always PNP. AWE64 is basically an AWE32 PNP remarketed and built cheaper (smaller boards, less parts) to make more money. No improvements in drivers or hardware to any seriously noticeable extent. Wavetable still sucks.

(NOTE that no AWE cards work with soundfonts in DOS. At least from what I've managed to research. In Windows you can load soundfonts and they will work with non protected mode games in General MIDI mode.)
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby HunterZ » 2005-10-28 @ 19:40

As far as I know, you don't need any utilities for the non-PnP SB16s that you didn't need for earlier cards (except maybe a mixer app).

Also, the SB16 has an MPU-401 compatible interface that lets you use an external MIDI synth without the need for a driver or a game that specifically supports it.

Additionally, you can get wavetable synthesis daughter cards for the SB16, but they're hard to find and many sound awful from what I've read.

Also, for the PnP cards: do you need to load a .SYS driver? I seem to remember something about that...

AWE: I also remember reading that the AWE32 let you plug in standard RAM sticks (from the time) to expand the RAM, while the AWE64 used proprietary modules to achieve the same thing.
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Re: VIA AC97 DOS Drivers?

Postby 5u3 » 2005-10-29 @ 14:06

As far as I know, you don't need any utilities for the non-PnP SB16s that you didn't need for earlier cards (except maybe a mixer app).

You're right, and I strongly advise against using that mixer piece of junk from Creative. It wastes a lot of memory just for doing a bad job. There are many alternative freeware DOS mixer apps for SB16 cards (although somewhat hard to find nowadays).

Unfortunately, the MIDI interface on the Creative cards is not 100% MPU401 compatible, but with most synth modules it doesn't really matter (except for the Roland MT-32 and similar devices that need SYSEX).

There are very good wavetable daughter cards for the SB16, although those are rare (Roland, Yamaha). Cheaper wavetable boards are easier to obtain, but they have cheesy sounds (WaveBlaster). BTW, you can connect a wavetable board to an AWE card as well, in this case you won't need the AWEUTIL driver for general MIDI support.

Some AWE32 models can be expanded by inserting standard 30-pin SIM modules (up to 32MB, but the chip cannot use more than 28MB because of address restrictions).
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