Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby megatron-uk » 2011-10-02 @ 20:40

Hi all,

I thought I'd document my experiences so far with trying to get large IDE devices (>500Mb, unsupported by BIOS types 1-46) working on older machines (primarily, what I've found so far for my 286 build).

Hardware I'm using:
8GB 133x Transcend CF card
CF to IDE adapter
286 motherboard, BIOS supported drives type 1-47
Basic 16bit ISA multi-io controller, no onboard BIOS

Possible solutions that may work:

Option 1. Replace multi-io card with an IDE controller with onboard BIOS. Eg Promise EIDEMax.

The ISA controllers with onboard BIOS should support drives up to 8GB - I've not seen any yet with LBA support, but that's not to say there aren't any. They're still around on Ebay every now and then. Downsides are that you lose another 16bit ISA slot and you have to be careful with plug-and-play designs that you cannot easily change their resources.

Option 2. Replace your existing BIOS with another one that supports drives up to 8GB. Eg the XTIDE project has BIOS releases for AT class machines that do just this.

The BIOS can be added to a number of ISA cards (that don't even need to be IDE controllers) as long as the BIOS is socketable or flashable. The software is actively developed and has a number of nice functions and a nice configuration tool. Downside is that unless your existing multi-io card has a BIOS (unlikely) you still lose a 8 or 16bit ISA slot to whatever controller you add to host the XTIDE BIOS.

I will try this option with my SCSI controller as the BIOS is socketed - I just need to pad the 8kb rom out to fit a 27c128.

Option 3. Use a modern(ish) ISA SCSI controller and SCSI to IDE bridge solution.

This should enable you to use big(ger) IDE disks, up to the size supported by the SCSI controller (at least 8GB on most Adaptec chipsets) and also gets the benefit of DMA transfers on supported cards. Downside is (as I've found with my particular SCSI-IDE bridge) that not all combinations work. The main SCSI-IDE bridges are the IO-Data R-IDSC (which is the one I'm using), the Acard AEC-7720 and one from Yamaha that was bundled with a CD/DVD writer. The AEC-7720 is the best, but also very expensive (like entirely new computer expensive).

I have tried this but my motherboard seems to have issues with a) the DMA transfer of the AHA-1542, and b) detecting anything hanging from the SCS-IDE bridge. To be fair, I had the latter problem when I tried to use the bridge in a towered Amiga 1200.

Option 4. Drive Overlay Software / Disk Translation Software.
In theory the drive overlay software can be used to access the full capacity of a disk even if the BIOS doesn't.

I have tried the following drive overlay software so far:

Maxtor Maxblast 3 (Ontrack 9.56a)
Boots into a custom Caldera DR-Dos system - config.sys needs editing on my 286 class machine as it has a call to DOS=HIGH,UMB that fails - it then boots to either a graphical or text mode (selectable). Detects the full capacity of the Transcend 8GB CF drive and allows partitioning in either WIn98SE/FAT32 compatible single partition, or as earlier Dos/FAT16 multiple 2GB partitions.
Upon reboot the overlay software activates when the CF drive boots and prompts to insert a floppy to boot from (the CF drive is formatted when the software is installed/partitioned). At this point (with the Ontrack software loaded, the blue banner showing and prompting for a bootable drive) I cannot get any bootable floppies to work; they spin for a second or two but do not load. Leaving a floppy in to boot from instead of the CF drive boots from the floppy ok, but the CF drive is then an unsupported scheme/size, as one would expect.

Maxtor Maxblast 2
Boots into a custom Caldera DR-Dos system - config.sys needs editing on my 286 class machine as it has a call to DOS=HIGH,UMB that fails - it then boots to either a graphical or text mode (selectable). Hangs at the 'inspecting hardware' stage and goes no further.

Samsung Drive Manager
Requires a ramdrive bigger than the 3MB of XMS that my 4MB 286 provides in order to decompress working files into - the installation and setup do not complete. In addition the config.sys tries to load an XMS driver that is not compatible with my 286 (not himem.sys or himemx).

So what options do I have left? Well, I'm going to try the XTIDE BIOS route, by writing an eprom to go in the SCSI card (I'd already budgeted for one 16bit ISA slot to be used by the SCSI card, so I'm not losing anything there). That's the first option, as I can try this without any additional hardware or cost.
Secondly I'll see if there are any older versions of Ontrack that I can find, to see if they work any better (ie don't have the floppy boot problem).
Lastly, I can try tracking down a later ISA controller with onboard BIOS, to take over from the rudimentary IDE support in the 286 motherboard. This is the last option, as the cards are fairly expensive compared to what I've spent on the rest of the entire machine.

Anyone else had much fun getting larger drives working on XT/AT/286 type hardware?
megatron-uk
Member
 
Posts: 487
Joined: 2010-9-07 @ 10:53

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby keropi » 2011-10-02 @ 22:05

I run the retail version of DiskManager 9.57 and it works fine for my machines...
My IBM 386sx machine works with a 20GB HDD now, a 486DX also has a 20GB one and even my GoldenGate486 setup installed in an Amiga4000 used to work with a 20GB HDD (yep, got lots of 20gb drives LOL)

I see that you ask about 286 machines... can't really comment on that, I don't own one :sealed:
User avatar
keropi
l33t++
 
Posts: 7031
Joined: 2003-9-08 @ 06:45
Location: Greece

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby orcish75 » 2012-1-29 @ 09:32

Hi Megatron,

Thanks for the post, you inspired me to go and investigate the XTIDE project to get a decent hard drive running on my A2286 bridgeboard on my Amiga 2000.

This is by far the best way to get old 286/386 class machines a hard drive greater than 528MB running on them (without spending a fortune on a controller card with a built-in bios as you mentioned). Also a lot of those BIOSes do not have a custom/autodetect feature, they are limited to the 47 pre-defined hard drives that are near impossible to find these days. My A2286 has exactly this problem, so if I put in an HDD that wasn't listed, the PC would not allow anything to be written to it, including the Drive Overlay Software I tried.

I do have a Future Domain SCSI controller that I was using in the beginning, but the Amiga 2000 only has 4 ISA slots, one of which is occupied by the bridgeboard. The main reason for me using the bridgeboard is to use a cheap NE2000 clone network card to connect the Amiga to network to transfer files. The bridgeboard/NE2000 combination was a lot cheaper than a dedicated Amiga network card, as well as being a cool project to have to get them working properly. The next ISA slot was occupied by the VGA card and the last by the IDE/RS232/Parallel Multi I/O card.

To really complicate things, I wanted a soundcard in there as well, however all the ISA slots were occupied now. The majority of soundcards have an IDE port on them, but most of them can only be set to Secondary or Tertiary, very few can be Primary. I found a Turtle Beach Tropez soundcard on EBay that allows the IDE port to be set to Primary or Secondary, so problem solved.....or so I thought. For some bizarre reason, if I set the port to Primary and connect a hard drive, the floppy drive ceased to function properly. There were definitely no I/O or interrupt conflicts as it was set to 1F0h and INT 14, exactly the same as my Multi IO card. If I took out the soundcard and put my Multi IO card back in, the floppy would work 100% again. To cut a long story short, I could never get the soundcard set to Primary to work on this setup. (It worked perfectly on my Pentium PC as Primary)

In the end, even if I did get the soundcard working properly, I still needed to overcome the fact that I did not have a hard drive that the A2286 could recognise properly. When I saw your post about the XTIDE project I got very excited again and immediately went to their website to check it out. That BIOS was EXACTLY what I was looking for, not only did it have an autodetect feature, it also allows you to boot off any IDE channel, as well as master and slave devices. This got me thinking that I could use almost any soundcard with an IDE port on it, even if it was set to Secondary or Tertiary. For now, I'd "keep it simple, stupid" and used the IDE controller on the Multi I/O card as it was set to Primary.

The problem now was how I was going to get the XTIDE BIOS in my A2286. Fortunately most network cards have a Boot ROM socket on them, so I set about figuring out how I can get the XTIDE BIOS working in the Boot ROM socket of my NE2000 card. I downloaded the file from the website http://code.google.com/p/xtideuniversalbios/downloads/detail?name=XTIDE_Universal_BIOS_v1.1.5.zip an saw that I'd need to program it into a 27C64 EPROM chip. Fortunately I had a few of these lying around as well as a Willem EPROM programmer that I bought cheaply off EBay a couple of years ago.

I immediately programmed ide_at.bin into one of the 27C64s and plugged it into my network card. I switched on the Amiga and waited for baited breath to see the boot selection menu come up on the PC. Unfortunately no go :sad: I realised that the network card probably had the boot ROM disabled, so I loaded up the nework card config program and sure enough, it was disabled. I set the the boot ROM to enabled and to a size of 8K, at address DC00h. I rebooted the Amiga expecting it to read the rom this time, unfortunately still no go.

Upon reading some of the topics on the XTIDE forum, I realised that the ROM image did not have the checksum byte at the end of the file set. A PC will not load a boot rom if it does not have a checksum byte. In the downloaded ZIP file, there is a utility called idecfg.com. This is another brilliant little touch by the guys who developed the whole XTIDE project. You can custom configure your ROM to exactly how you want it. The important setting in this utility is to ensure that the generate checksum is set to yes. You will probably have to change a setting in one of the other menus and the change it back again in order for the generate checksum to activate. When you exit idecfg.com, it'll ask you if you want to save the changes, just say yes.

I then programmed this ROM and fired up the Amiga. WHOOHOO!!!.... Almost!... The XTBIOS showed up in the boot process but froze the system before it got to detecting the hard drive. Took a while to figure this one out, but read on the Bridgeboard FAQ on Aminet that the A2286 uses adresses D000h to DFFFh to communicate with the Amiga side and I had set the Boot ROM address to DC00. I loaded up the network card config program again and set the Boot ROM address to CC00h.

I switched on the Amiga and this time....Perfect!!! The XTIDE bios detected my hard drive as a Primary at address 1F0h. I FDISK'd it and installed MS-DOS 6.22 without a problem.

:happyhappy:

Now it was time to see if I could get the hard drive to boot off the Secondary controller on my SB16 non-PNP soundcard. I set the jumpers on the SB16 for the IDE port to 170h and INT 15 (standard Secondary settings), replaced the Multi I/O card with the SB16 and plugged in the hard drive. YES!!! The XTIDE BIOS detected it perfectly on the Secondary channel and booted without a hitch! I was a very happy man at this moment!

The standard settings for the XTIDE BIOS is to check every available IDE channel and bring up a boot menu to select which device you's like to boot from (including the floppy drive). This makes it very flexible, but it does take a long time to boot the machine. The idecfg.com program allows you to customise the XTIDE BIOS to however you want it, brilliant! So I removed a lot of the extra features and set it to detect only one channel, at address 170h and boot from there. I reprogrammed the 27C64 and plugged it back into the network card. Boot time was now in a matter of seconds.

This all took place over about 2 weeks, trying many different things not mentioned here, I only mentioned the things of significance. But now, I'm a very happy man! I can use the network card to transfer data from my main PC to the Amiga, boot the hard drive off the SB16 IDE port and have sound on the A2286 for playing games like Prince of Persia etc. :happy:

I know this was a long winded article, so I'll summarise:

Disclaimer: You do this entirely at your own risk, I accept no responsibility should something go wrong and data is lost or hardware is damaged.

Items needed:

ISA network card with a boot rom socket (Probably the best option as they're readily available and cheap)
27C64 EEPROM
EEPROM Programmer or someone who can program the EEPROM for you.
XTIDE BIOS files
http://code.google.com/p/xtideuniversal ... v1.1.5.zip[url]
IDE interface card, either a Multi I/O card or a soundcard with an IDE interface on it.

Run the configuration program for your network card. Set the interrupt and adress to something that won't conflict with any other cards in your system, Address 300h and interrupt 10 are usually good choices. Set the Boot ROM to enabled, 8K in size and address CC00h (you might need to changed this as it does depend on any other cards in your system that might use the same address space)

NB: The following program does not work on 64-bit versions of Windows

Extract the files from the XTIDE BIOS zip and run idecfg.com. Select "Load BIOS from file" and select ide_at.bin. Select "Configure XTIDE Universal Bios" Select "Late initialisation" and change it to N. Select "Late initialisation" again and change it to Y. Select "Back to previous menu" and then select "Flash EEPROM" Ensure that the "Generate Checksum byte" is set to Y. Select "Back to previous Menu" and then "Exit to DOS" It will now ask you if you want to save the BIOS and say Yes.

Program the new ide_at.bin into the 27C64 EEPROM. Plug the EEPROM into the network card boot rom socket. Make sure that the EEPROM is plugged in the correct way, there is a little half-moon notch on the side of the EEPROM. Make sure this is on the same side as the half-moon notch on the boot rom socket.

Plug the network card into the PC and attached the hard drive to your IDE controller. Switch on your PC and hopefully it'll bring up the XTIDE boot menu. You might need to enter the PC bios and set your hard drives to "NONE" or "Disabled" for the XTIDE bios to work. If it still doesn't work, try a different address in your network card setup program, set the boot ROM to CE00h or DC00h until you find a value that works. Try change another option in the idecfg.com program to something and change it back again to ensure that the Checksum Byte is saved.

If you are adventurous, you can customise your bios using the idecfg.com program, but you must know what you're doing as the XTBIOS will likely not work if something is changed that isn't correct.
User avatar
orcish75
Member
 
Posts: 105
Joined: 2011-12-13 @ 14:46
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby megatron-uk » 2012-1-29 @ 15:24

Aha, so you found my post on Vintage-computer.com? I struggled for a while until someone figured out the bios didn't have a checksum byte at the end!

My experience with the XTIDE BIOS has been mixed - the CF cards I used were not 100% reliable with it - occaisional utilities (Norton sysinfo, the c't disk info tool and directory listings would lock up. However, the modern WDC Scorpio Blue drive I'm using now is rock solid (and extremely fast for a 286 based host - getting on for 3mbytes/sec!). I couldn't be happier!

There still exists a limitation of 8Gb, but that's more than I would ever need with every single 286-compatible game ever!
megatron-uk
Member
 
Posts: 487
Joined: 2010-9-07 @ 10:53

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby orcish75 » 2012-1-29 @ 16:25

Yup, I did and thanks again, it was quite a struggle getting it working, but now it's 100%

I haven't tried with a CF card yet, I have a Transcend 4GB CF card in my Amiga 1200 which works great, but I don't want to format it on the A2286 and lose my data.

I'll buy a 8GB CF card tomorrow and try it out. Currently I'm running a 4.3GB Seagate HDD on the A2286, which as you say, is waaaay more than I'll ever need on a 286! Haven't tried speed tests yet, but I'll get some results and post them, hopefully a good comparison between the CF card and the HDD.
User avatar
orcish75
Member
 
Posts: 105
Joined: 2011-12-13 @ 14:46
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby orcish75 » 2012-2-05 @ 22:37

Got hold of a couple Transcend 8GB 133X CF cards this weekend, same as yours. Also having the same issues with a few utilities, Norton Sysinfo does not recognise the CF card when I want to benchmark it. Norton does however see the partitions, report back the correct size of the partitions etc. However, I have the exactly the same problem with my Seagate ST34311A 4.3GB HDD.

The one HDD benchmark program freezes the system as soon as it tries to detect the CF card, works perfectly with the HDD. Other than those 2 programs, everything else seems to work perfectly with the CF card. All my games and the programs to communicate with the Amiga side work perfectly.

Now for the benchmarking. My A2286 bridgeboard is an 8MHz 286 board with the Soundblaster IDE port as the HDD controller. It's definitely not a DMA controller, operates in PIO mode 0 only.

CF card: 900KB/sec read and write (sequential and random), 1.5ms access time. Not great performance at all, was expecting it to be able to saturate the controller, at least 2MB/sec or better. When I connect it to my main PC, Core2 Quad 2.8GHz, I get around 18 -20MB/sec sequential reads, obviously this is in UDMA mode. Perhaps PIO mode 0 of the CF card is not well optimised.

Seagate HDD: Got around 2MB/sec sequential read and write, about 1.5MB/sec random read and write, 12ms access time. Much better performance than the CF card.

The poor performance of the CF card is not really an issue for me, far more importantly is that it uses very little power and thus generates very little heat as well as being very small physically. My Amiga A2000 is jam packed with expansion cards and the Amiga side uses a 9.1GB SCSI HDD which generates a lot of heat. There's no space to add in extra cooling fans or extra hard drives, so I'm gonna replace the PC HDD with the CF card permanently.

I'll keep you posted with any other developments, incompatibities etc.
User avatar
orcish75
Member
 
Posts: 105
Joined: 2011-12-13 @ 14:46
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby megatron-uk » 2012-2-06 @ 13:09

Thanks for the update - it does seem somewhat similar to my results.

Unfortunately I'm likely to put the 286 into storage as the upgrade plan with the IBM 486SLC2 module didn't work out and I only have the one AT-class case, which I'm going to re-use for a 486 instead.

Still, if I pick up another case at some point, I know I've got a system that I can use modern drives on.
megatron-uk
Member
 
Posts: 487
Joined: 2010-9-07 @ 10:53

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby dr.zeissler » 2016-2-19 @ 00:27

...
Last edited by dr.zeissler on 2016-2-19 @ 12:10, edited 1 time in total.
CPU: PII 133-333 MOBO: SNI-D981 RAM: 512- FDD: Dualfloppy 3,5"HD/5,25"HD - 3,5"HD - 5,25"DD ISA-Catweasel HDD: 2x40GB - DVD
ISA(3): Audician32-S2Dreamblaster - GusACE PCI(3): Monster3D- Intel NW AGP(1): 3dfx V3-3000
dr.zeissler
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1651
Joined: 2011-9-28 @ 15:33

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby noshutdown » 2016-2-19 @ 02:04

thanks for digging up this thread
in this picture, this guy's 286 bios recognizes a 1gb CF-IDE drive, which option did he take?
Image
noshutdown
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1098
Joined: 2010-7-23 @ 17:04
Location: China

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby dr.zeissler » 2016-2-19 @ 12:17

I got it wrong, sorry. So here again:

@orcish75
1. You used a PC-Network-Card in an ISA-Slot and put the XTIDE-Bios-Rom on it, so you are able to boot certain IDE-Drivers e.g. a CF-Card connected to a SB-Card with a real IDE-Port (not a cdrom-only port)

2. What do you think about booting (io.sys, msdos.sys and command.com) from a Hardfile and then switching to a CF-Card connected to SB-CT2950 ?

You wrote that it was not possible to access the CF-card without the XT-IDE Bios/Rom on your Network-Card.
I thought about this:

- Booting Dos from Hardfile
- Loading uide.sys (freedos) or drivepro to get acess to the CF-card and using DiskManager oder drivePro in order not to be limited bei the IDE-Harddrives with the Bioa of the A2286

Doc
Last edited by dr.zeissler on 2016-3-05 @ 23:56, edited 2 times in total.
CPU: PII 133-333 MOBO: SNI-D981 RAM: 512- FDD: Dualfloppy 3,5"HD/5,25"HD - 3,5"HD - 5,25"DD ISA-Catweasel HDD: 2x40GB - DVD
ISA(3): Audician32-S2Dreamblaster - GusACE PCI(3): Monster3D- Intel NW AGP(1): 3dfx V3-3000
dr.zeissler
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1651
Joined: 2011-9-28 @ 15:33

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby orcish75 » 2016-2-23 @ 21:29

Hi dr.zeissler,

1. Yup, that's exactly what I did. It only works with certain soundcard IDE ports. Most soundcards that are non-PNP and have jumpers to set the IDE interface should work. If you need to load a driver to initialise the IDE port then it won't work. The cards that I have tried that worked are the Turtle Beach Tropez 32, Aztech Sound Galaxy Pro II (I38-MMSN845), SB16 CT2910 and a generic ESS688 non-PNP card. The cards I've tried that don't work are the SB16 CT2950, OPTi 82c929, OPTi 82c931, Yamaha YMF-71x. The CT2950 might work in a machine with a PNP BIOS, but my A2286 doesn't have that so it has to be initialised by software before it can be used.

2. Good idea! For some reason, I just couldn't get a hardfile setup working on my A2000. The PC side could never find the hardfile I created on the Amiga HDD, so getting a CF card or HDD booting on the PC side was my only option. If I remember correctly, I think it was due to me using PFS3 as my Amiga filesystem, the hardfile has to be on an FFS partition. If you can get the hardfile working, then I'm sure your idea of loading any PNP initalisation software and uide.sys or drivepro will get the CF or HDD recognised. I haven't tried uide.sys on any of my DOS PC's, does it allow HDD's to be recognised in DOS without the BIOS or is it an IDE CD-ROM driver?

Cheers!
User avatar
orcish75
Member
 
Posts: 105
Joined: 2011-12-13 @ 14:46
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby dr.zeissler » 2016-3-06 @ 00:00

Argh, I didn't get it, but why?

I boot a from a small Hardfile (2MB). I put a ct2910 in the A2000 and configured IDE IRQ15 and IDE-Secondary.
The A2286 Bios is still Harddrive: NONE / NONE.

When I start the Ontrack DiskManager 9.57 from floppy two drives were detected!

One is the Hardfile and the Second is the CF-Card that is connected with the CT2910.
I can access the cf-card within the started Ontrack-Diskmanager, but the driver is not installed (ontrackd.sys)
because the Diskmanager says that there is no driver required, but that's wrong :(

Seems like there is no way of booting a small hardfile and using a cf-card connected to a soundcard for the bigger and much faster data?

Doc
CPU: PII 133-333 MOBO: SNI-D981 RAM: 512- FDD: Dualfloppy 3,5"HD/5,25"HD - 3,5"HD - 5,25"DD ISA-Catweasel HDD: 2x40GB - DVD
ISA(3): Audician32-S2Dreamblaster - GusACE PCI(3): Monster3D- Intel NW AGP(1): 3dfx V3-3000
dr.zeissler
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1651
Joined: 2011-9-28 @ 15:33

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby alexanrs » 2016-3-06 @ 00:14

It could be that the CT2910's IDE port does not use the standard ports for primary/secondary IDE channels the BIOS is expecting. You might need something like XTIDE's option ROM to access it.
alexanrs
l33t
 
Posts: 2352
Joined: 2005-10-14 @ 14:48
Location: Brazil

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby dr.zeissler » 2016-3-06 @ 09:09

But I get access to it with the startet diskmanager. I think the only missing thing at startup is the ontrackd.sys driver with the proper options,
but it fails to install.
CPU: PII 133-333 MOBO: SNI-D981 RAM: 512- FDD: Dualfloppy 3,5"HD/5,25"HD - 3,5"HD - 5,25"DD ISA-Catweasel HDD: 2x40GB - DVD
ISA(3): Audician32-S2Dreamblaster - GusACE PCI(3): Monster3D- Intel NW AGP(1): 3dfx V3-3000
dr.zeissler
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1651
Joined: 2011-9-28 @ 15:33

Re: Large IDE drives on 286/AT/ISA class machines

Postby alexanrs » 2016-3-06 @ 12:57

AFAIK the disk manager access the disk directly, not relying on BIOS. ODDs are meant to replace the BIOS functions with their own, so if it installed correctly your setup would likely work. Adding a XT-IDE BIOS with an old ISA NIC would likely solve those issues as well and make ODDs unnecessary.
alexanrs
l33t
 
Posts: 2352
Joined: 2005-10-14 @ 14:48
Location: Brazil


Return to General Old Hardware

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: arteq, Google [Bot], Kubik and 10 guests