VOGONS


My Very Long Bus Adventure.

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First post, by Chadti99

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I skipped from ISA to PCI back in the day and always been curious to try VLB. A couple weeks back I finally came across an Asus GX4 for an okay price and started searching for the parts I needed to get a new build going.

Build so far:

Asus 486sv2gx4 v2.1 Motherboard
Kingston Turbochip 133 clocked at 160
32MB FPM Single Stick
Cirrus Logic CLVGA5429 VLB Video Card
Promise 2300 Plus IO EIDE VLB controller
Sounds Blaster AWE32 (seems fitting given the two other long bois)
SD2IDE adapter for storage

Waiting on:
28 pin EEPROM
PS2 Mouse Header
1024k cache modules

Decided to go with the TurboChip for now because I’m stuck with an older bios and seem to be getting better performance for whatever reason using this over a straight 5x86. I’ve also been meaning to test the part and decided now was a good time.

For the video card, I went with the most cost effective VLB card I could find to just make sure the board posted. I’d really like one of the proven faster cards but it will take some time for one to pop up at a decent price. I hear the Cirrus Logic has great compatibility so that was also a driving factor.

When I first tried firing this thing up, I couldn’t get it to post. I swapped CPU’s, memory, CMOS battery, changed jumpers, cleaned and re-seated the video card multiple times. I thought for sure I had a dead board, but finally she posted, no idea what finally did it 🤣.

I’ve got 0ws on the VL Bus configured and what I believe to be the fastest Bios settings based on info from other threads.

This is how she sits right now, sans sound card, with a few benchmarks.

Def looking forward to getting this working with L1 in write back mode and a trying a faster VLB card.

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Last edited by Chadti99 on 2021-10-04, 00:11. Edited 3 times in total.

Reply 1 of 125, by Chadti99

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Continued

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Reply 2 of 125, by Chadti99

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Discovered that Scitech Display Doctor allows me to run 320x400 in Duke 3D with this Cirrus Logic board which I find to be the perfect trade off in resolution and performance for faster 486 systems. I def get a boost in performance using VESA modes in Duke 3D but no gains in Quake, actually a slight decrease in fps.

Also upgrading from 1MB to 2MB of video memory made no performance difference. Was hoping maybe there was some memory interleaving action going to happen but nope. Note the picture shown was before the upgrade.

I also gave the Unisound driver a go for the first time and it found and configured my AWE32 PNP with no complaints. Sound and Music is working perfect in the couple games I’ve tried so far. What an excellent tool, just ran the executable from command line and that was it.

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Last edited by Chadti99 on 2021-10-03, 23:58. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 3 of 125, by BitWrangler

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CL5429 can be dang fast though. Good ones. I can see you've got a short-arse one, that's promising, think all my best ones were the shorter ones.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 4 of 125, by Chadti99

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-10-03, 23:56:

CL5429 can be dang fast though. Good ones. I can see you've got a short-arse one, that's promising, think all my best ones were the shorter ones.

That’s great to hear! The 29 did come out on top of Phils benchmarks, out of the Cirrus chipsets he had to test, so I’ve got some hope for it. The picture quality in Windows has some issues but I’m hoping it’s just a driver issue.

It will be interesting to see how close I can get to feipoa’s Quake score of 17.6 with the bios upgrade and extra cache.

Reply 5 of 125, by Disruptor

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I've seen your fps and they seem to be a bit too low, even with 256k cache.
How tight are your memory and cache timings?
Is your L2 in WB or WT?
The amount of RAM fits to your current L2 size.

Reply 7 of 125, by jakethompson1

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In regard to the results,
it looks like the Am5x86 is running in L1 write-through (instead of write-back) mode.
Also, at least some Award BIOSes are known to program the SiS 471 in "always dirty" mode (hurts performance) for L2 write-back with no option in the BIOS to change it, even though the 471 chipset supports 7+1 configuration for the tag ram. It can be fixed using MODBIN. Re: Evolution of a Socket3 System to a POD @100MHz

Reply 8 of 125, by PC-Engineer

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You managed to get your hands on the fastest 486 board ever, currently trading for prices well over $200. And you're saving on the graphics card now?

The integrated RAMDAC of the CL542x chips gets blurry at resolutions from 800x600. There are also much faster graphics cards for DOS, especially for SVGA. On the other hand, the CL graphics cards are very unproblematic and compatible under DOS.

Just as problem-free, but faster (especially in SVGA and Windows) are graphics cards with the GD5434 (e.g. Orchid Kelvin 64) or with the S3 Vision and Trio chips (864, 868, Trio64 - e.g. Diamond Stealth 64). You can also use the GD5430 or a Trio32, they are similarly fast under DOS, but much slower under Windows. The Trident TGUI9440 is also a good and also cheap option.

The fastest option for DOS (VGA) is the ARK1000. But for the crown in SVGA it lacks the LFB. It doesn't feel comfortable under Windows either.

I did some tests with VLB graphic cards on the SV2GX4 with the Am5x86@160MHz and Phils DOSBench Suite.

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Last edited by PC-Engineer on 2021-10-09, 07:34. Edited 1 time in total.

1994/1995 - Socket3 - ASUS SV2GX4 / POD 100MHz / 64MB / SCSI - Windows 95

Reply 9 of 125, by pshipkov

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The 4 points summary:
1. The best place for pre-Pentium DOS interactive graphics, if paired with ark1000vl or s3 trio64. But lacks behind in some other areas.
2. Best host for POD100.
3. With Promise 2300 Plus it takes pci UltraATA controller to outdo its disk i/o.
4. Too bad it's clock generator does not support 60 or 66 mhz. Still, at 4x50mhz it reaches the highest orbit with Doom at 75 fps and Quake 1 at 22 fps.

retro bits and bytes

Reply 10 of 125, by BitWrangler

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PC-Engineer wrote on 2021-10-04, 05:55:

You managed to get your hands on the fastest 486 board ever, currently trading for prices well over $200. And you're saving on the graphics card now?

The integrated RAMDAC of the CL542x chips gets blurry at resolutions from 800x600. There are also much faster graphics cards for DOS, especially for SVGA. On the other hand, the CL graphics cards are very unproblematic and compatible under DOS.

It's about 20% faster which is usually the threshold of "you wouldn't notice if you weren't told" between two systems. So I wouldn't qualify it with "much". A bit faster, a little faster, somewhat faster. If double the money doesn't get you double the speed, don't bother.

2017: Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. 2021: Still starting, heh, many setbacks. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> Taming the pile, specs to target?

Reply 11 of 125, by PC-Engineer

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Replace "much" with "many", if it makes you happy.

That being said, there are actually many better alternatives to the GD5429 in every way, especially on this board with this CPU. If 20% doesn't matter, why does he have this top notch board and overclock the CPU? Discussing what is much for one and little for the other is splitting hairs. Back to the topic.

1994/1995 - Socket3 - ASUS SV2GX4 / POD 100MHz / 64MB / SCSI - Windows 95

Reply 12 of 125, by jakethompson1

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PC-Engineer wrote on 2021-10-04, 14:40:

That being said, there are actually many better alternatives to the GD5429 in every way, especially on this board with this CPU. If 20% doesn't matter, why does he have this top notch board and overclock the CPU? Discussing what is much for one and little for the other is splitting hairs. Back to the topic.

Any thoughts on the EFA 4DMS HL3G?
https://www.elhvb.com/webhq/models/486vlb3/4dms.htm
I've got one and it seems on par with this Asus board and not as pricey, though I should do some actual benchmarking.

Reply 13 of 125, by PC-Engineer

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I think this topic could fill another thread or you can add it to https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=70318 A comparison between this two boards would be very intersting.

The test above with the VLB cards was done with Phils Benchmark set and the system had 1024kB cache and all stable BIOS tweks.

1994/1995 - Socket3 - ASUS SV2GX4 / POD 100MHz / 64MB / SCSI - Windows 95

Reply 15 of 125, by GigAHerZ

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jakethompson1 wrote on 2021-10-04, 01:26:

In regard to the results,
it looks like the Am5x86 is running in L1 write-through (instead of write-back) mode.
Also, at least some Award BIOSes are known to program the SiS 471 in "always dirty" mode (hurts performance) for L2 write-back with no option in the BIOS to change it, even though the 471 chipset supports 7+1 configuration for the tag ram. It can be fixed using MODBIN. Re: Evolution of a Socket3 System to a POD @100MHz

Here's another experience: Re: 486 cache/ram speed issue with write-back

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!

Reply 16 of 125, by Chadti99

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Disruptor wrote on 2021-10-04, 00:49:
I've seen your fps and they seem to be a bit too low, even with 256k cache. How tight are your memory and cache timings? Is your […]
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I've seen your fps and they seem to be a bit too low, even with 256k cache.
How tight are your memory and cache timings?
Is your L2 in WB or WT?
The amount of RAM fits to your current L2 size.

Hi Disruptor, here are my current bios settings. One driving factor for sure is that I’m stuck in WT for the L1 cache until I get an EEPROM to flash a newer bios.

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Reply 17 of 125, by Chadti99

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I picked up the 5429 for less than $40, it’s probably not the card I’ll keep on this board. I needed something quick to be sure I could get the board to post and wasn’t getting ripped off with a dead board. I would of used an ISA card but I didn’t have any of those lying around either.

I def want to get my scores up!

I’ve got the following on the way:

Diamond Stealth SE VLB (S3 Trio32)
Possibly an ARK1000VL, not 100% site is legit
Also talking to someone about a Trio64 based board.

Last edited by Chadti99 on 2021-10-07, 12:28. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 18 of 125, by Chadti99

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PC-Engineer wrote on 2021-10-04, 05:55:

The fastest option for DOS (VGA) is the ARK1000. But for the crown in SVGA it lacks the LFB. It doesn't feel comfortable under Windows either.

I did some tests with VLB graphic cards on the SV2GX4 with the Am5x86@160MHz.

This is awesome, thanks for sharing! Which BIOS and settings?

What VLB card takes the Windows crown? Is there a good compromise between DOS and Windows performance? Which card are you currently settled on?

Reply 19 of 125, by Chadti99

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pshipkov wrote on 2021-10-04, 08:02:

3. With Promise 2300 Plus it takes pci UltraATA controller to outdo its disk i/o.
4. Too bad it's clock generator does not support 60 or 66 mhz. Still, at 4x50mhz it reaches the highest orbit with Doom at 75 fps and Quake 1 at 22 fps.

3. Curious if there are any settings you can share on the Promise controller to max out performance? I’m only seeing 2-3MB read speeds at the moment.

4. Agreed, would be cool to run the 5x86 at 180MHz. Have you been able to run one at 200MHz on this board?