VOGONS


First post, by valnar

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Over a decade ago when I decided to build my retro DOS+Windows 98 machines, I decided on the ASUS P2B motherboards (i440BX chipset) because it had all the slots and compatibility necessary - AGP, PCI and ISA. I have a SB16, MIDI cards, etc. To make it faster, I used a Slotket or Powerleap adapter and could get up to a Tualatin CPU running in it.

However, for the life of me I can't recall why I didn't just buy an i815EP board instead. It could natively support ISA, has faster ATAPI/IDE and could accept a Tualatin CPU.

I don't expect anyone to read my mind, but can anyone recall any special features (regarding retro gaming) that would be inherent to the 440BX generation that is NOT in a 815E/815EP? Do they both work with DDMA? Was anything us gamers care about removed between the two generations? I assume both support DOS, Windows 3.1 and Windows 98 just fine?

I was thinking of buying another motherboard and after looking at the options, I don't know why I just didn't do it all on an 815EP chipset in the first place.

Reply 1 of 18, by Ampera

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The main factor is time. The 440BX came out almost a year and a half earlier than the 815EP. Of course the newer chipset is going to be faster and better.

Another factor may have been cost. I'd imagine the 815EP may have been more expensive at launch then the already venerated 440BX, and was reserved for power users.

As for DOS, nobody should really be using DOS on anything Slot 1 or newer. At that point, it's really not necessary.

Reply 2 of 18, by PhilsComputerLab

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http://www.philscomputerlab.com/uploads/3/7/2 … ing_project.pdf

Checkout Page 35 and 36 for a performance Voodoo 2 SLI comparison of these two chipset 😀

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Reply 3 of 18, by Anonymous Coward

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I want to say the year was 2001, and I was running an Abit BF6 with powerleap converter and 768MB of RAM. With Windows XP, that wasn't really considered a lot of memory. When the caps on my board went bad, I had to "upgrade" to an Asus TUSL2-C, which meant losing 256MB of system memory, because the i815EP only supported up to 512MB. That was enough to run XP pretty smoothly at launch, but it wasn't long before the service packs and web browsers started eating up all the extra memory. Somehow I managed to avoid the P4 generation and stuck with that configuration until upgrading to CoreDuo in 2006!

Intel had clearly gimped the i815EP with an artificial memory limit because they wanted to force people to upgrade to a P4. Even at the time of release, it was clear the memory ceiling was way too low. Had I been smart enough to fix my BX board, I could have ran that on a 133MHz bus using the FSB/4 PCI divider and a PCI graphics card (89MHz AGP was considered too risky).

Other differences I remember is that the i815EP did ATA66, whereas the BX only did ATA33...it was basically non-issue as many drives couldn't sustain a high transfer rate anyway. The i815 boards were also said to be slower than the BX boards (in memory throughput), but I can't put my finger on exactly how.

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Reply 5 of 18, by firage

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The difference for me is that ISA is very rare with 815 boards. They may exist, in theory, but not a lot of room for choice out there. I don't think it does have support natively.

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Reply 6 of 18, by Ampera

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All chipsets have support for ISA, even modern ones like Z97/X99 do. They just don't have the slots on it because people would rather have PCI/PCI-E than ISA. ISA is still used for things like thermocouples and other system utilities as it's incredibly easy to implement, and is still fairly fast for most GPIO tasks.

Reply 8 of 18, by firage

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Ampera wrote:

All chipsets have support for ISA, even modern ones like Z97/X99 do. They just don't have the slots on it because people would rather have PCI/PCI-E than ISA. ISA is still used for things like thermocouples and other system utilities as it's incredibly easy to implement, and is still fairly fast for most GPIO tasks.

No, that's not correct as far as I know. The bus they use is LPC. When ISA slots were implemented (mostly industrial motherboards) after 440BX, they were typically bridged from PCI.

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Reply 9 of 18, by Ampera

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industry_Standa … _embedded_chips

I was half right.

Every computer has the ISA bus in it's address space, and those system devices appear as ISA devices, even if they don't use the same bus.

Reply 10 of 18, by PARKE

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PhilsComputerLab wrote:

http://www.philscomputerlab.com/uploads/3/7/2 … ing_project.pdf

Checkout Page 35 and 36 for a performance Voodoo 2 SLI comparison of these two chipset 😀

This reflects my limited experience. Although I never benchmarked my 440BX boards and my single ASUS TUSL2-C (815PE) in an organized way like Phil did it, I have never been able to catch the 815PE beating a BX440 at anything using the same Coppermine cpu. The only advantage that 815PE offers is, in my case, that the TUSL2-C supports Tualatins without any modding.

Reply 11 of 18, by cyclone3d

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valnar wrote:

There is something different in the way the modern boards use ISA though. They don't have the same sound card compatibility.

Yep, no DMA support.

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Reply 12 of 18, by melbar

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Advantage of the 815EP:

The AGP bus runs at 66MHz when running the FSB at 133MHz.
Using a 440BX + a higher FSB (when using a tualatin) means an overclocked AGP bus: 89MHz.
You should be aware of this to overlock the VGA card up to 35%...

Reply 13 of 18, by PARKE

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melbar wrote:
Advantage of the 815EP: […]
Show full quote

Advantage of the 815EP:

The AGP bus runs at 66MHz when running the FSB at 133MHz.
Using a 440BX + a higher FSB (when using a tualatin) means an overclocked AGP bus: 89MHz.
You should be aware of this to overlock the VGA card up to 35%...

The same point could be made for the Via Apollo Pro at 133Mhz but in real life the first generation is around 20% slower than the BX. And when you try to find an Apollo Pro 'A', the next implementation of the Apollo Pro, that is faster than a BX you really have to do some serious homework because there weren't that many.

Reply 14 of 18, by The Serpent Rider

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All chipsets have support for ISA, even modern ones like Z97/X99 do.

Without DMA support.

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Reply 15 of 18, by vetz

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melbar wrote:

You should be aware of this to overlock the VGA card up to 35%...

It's a difference between overclocking the card by 35% and the bus.

In most cases 89mhz AGP is no problem for 440BX boards and graphics cards.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/574/7

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Reply 16 of 18, by agent_x007

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I would add, that 440BX is AGP 1.0 and it can't work with anything newer than GeForce FX 5950 or Radeon 9800 Pro.

One of the few exceptions to that rule is 7600 GS 😁 (but it will not work with Tualatin CPU's on 440BX, at least on my boards).

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Reply 17 of 18, by valnar

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Well, 10+ years later I'm remembering why I stuck with a BX board now. Thanks for the reminders. I'm sure it had to do with DDMA, SBLink, ISA-DMA and the like. It was the perfect Windows 98 machine then and still is today. I had one for sale on eBay but I think I'll keep it now.

Reply 18 of 18, by dexvx

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My take on this. At stock, 440BX is slower than 815EP, because we're talking about 100 vs 133 FSB. When 440BX is overclocked to 133, it is ever so slightly faster. 820 is a mixed bag altogether. The real advantage is the later stepping 815EPT/Apollo 133T is that they can natively support Tualatin without the need of a special adapter.

Here's a review pitting the Asus P3B-F vs P3V4X vs P3C-L vs CUSL2.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/review-fi … i815,199-4.html