VOGONS


Pentium 4 with ISA

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First post, by koverhbarc

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I promised I'd start this thread and here we go. What's the best way to get ISA support on a P4 machine? I hope people aren't keeping this some sort of secret.

The Intel 8xx chipsets, of course, support DMA through an external PCI/ISA bridge, perhaps the only chipsets that do. In almost all cases I've seen that is provided on the motherboard, so we're talking about ones with ISA slot(s) and working DMA. This could include the 815 chipset (P3, perhaps the best, supports all, but ISA examples may be hard to find), 845 (most common but doesn't have 200/800 FSB), and finally 865/875 (ideal choice). The last is also available in Socket LGA775 and thus can theoretically support later processors but as gaming only cares about one core, it's best to stick with the P4.

I only see them for public listing on eBay, but the choice is pretty terrible and I'm not sure if I can trust motherboard sellers (from experience among other things). Does anyone get them directly from industrial distributors? If so, which do sell to individuals and for what sort of price?

The motherboard 'ANOVO AIMB-865' has just been mentioned twice here (Problems regarding ANOVO AIMB-865 and LGA 775 Motherboards with AGP Slots) and can only be found from those sources; further, the first suggests there's some fiddly bits to get it working properly. So with the MB-865, of which it's probably a variation. Those are both LGA775, I guess I'd rather have Socket 478 for which I already have CPUs but they, actually, are cheap; either will do.

Another feature I'd consider essential for DOS gaming is support for a real PC speaker, not just an on-board beeper, but that's never mentioned in descriptions and I'd assume industrial boards are least likely to have it.

If one must use an 845 board, will later P4s (with 200 FSB) actually work in it, though underclocked? This would be good to know. I would think they should, but Intel may have added something to stop that being done and I've never heard of it for the P4 specifically. Has anyone tried putting a P4 in a lower FSB than specified?

Finally the PCI/ISA bridge need not be on-board. The chipset doesn't care, actually - so a bridge that plugs into a PCI slot would work with 8xx chipsets to provide ISA sound support. These seem impossible to find, though a Russian guy has two videos on YouTube showing this being done (with a Core 2!). There's one 865 motherboard still being sold new for $50 (presumably not new production - I assume Intel's long discontinued the 8xx chips.) and if an adapter would give it ISA that's a reasonable option.

Reply 1 of 70, by Ampera

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There is a really, really good reason why no Pentium 4 motherboards support ISA.

ISA is useless to a Pentium 4.

DOS isn't something you should really be doing beyond Slot 1, and MAYBE Socket A. At the time the Pentium 4 came out, DOS was dead and over with. PCI sound cards (and even integrated ones) were the popular ones, and everybody had Windows.

There are things like USB ISA slots, but they will likely not have the DOS support you are looking for.

To be brutally honest, on a Pentium 4, DOSBox may be your best option. They are seriously fast enough to start emulating DOS. I wish you luck on your journey, but I honestly do not think it is one work embarking upon. Just get an ISA Socket A board with a really fast Athlon XP+. They are probably the fastest thing with native ISA support out there.

Reply 2 of 70, by gdjacobs

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Ampera wrote:

DOS isn't something you should really be doing beyond Slot 1, and MAYBE Socket A. At the time the Pentium 4 came out, DOS was dead and over with. PCI sound cards (and even integrated ones) were the popular ones, and everybody had Windows.

I disagree. Two good reasons why it can be a good idea:
1) It's cheap. BX systems and earlier can be quite expensive to purchase. P4 systems with the 865 chipset or Socket 754 Athlon64s with a VIA/SIS chipset are very common, inexpensive, and otherwise compatible with modern components. I'd suggest a 754 system over a P4 due to the availability of CPU reclocking tools that provide some additional flexibility. Add an ESS Solo 1 sound card and you've got a great system for DOS gaming.
2) Performance. Some DOS games (Quake, Build engine games, Bethesda games, Extreme Assault) eat as much performance as they can get. Even with a P3 BX system, you'll probably want to go slotket and pin mod for Tualatin if you really want to max them out.

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Reply 3 of 70, by NamelessPlayer

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I have an industrial 875P-based motherboard with a single, fully functional ISA slot, and there's a few other 865G and 845P boards with two or three of 'em. Thus, your statement about "no Pentium 4 motherboards support ISA" turns out to be false.

Whether you're willing to shell out the cash for one of those boards on eBay is another matter. I took a chance on the BCM BC875PLG, but mostly because I would've had to pay similar prices for Pentium III Tualatin-compatible hardware and figured it would be better to get something that also handles mid-2000s XP gaming. I get enough complaints about having too many computers in the house as is, and if I get to consolidate what would be two computers into one, all the better.

Just keep in mind that with that particular board, despite what the manual says, there are NO CPU multiplier/FSB adjustments for overclocking or underclocking in the BIOS. It's rather bothersome, but a little app called THROTTLE.EXE can underclock it significantly at the hardware level (think SpeedStep) in order to keep speed-sensitive games from acting up. Had I known this, I may have opted for a more typical enthusiast-grade S478 875P board and a PCI/ISA bridge, but I also didn't know that PCI/ISA bridges were a thing at the time.

Also, as for the apparent pointlessness of DOS on Pentium 4: Blood at 1600x1200. Good luck pulling that off smoothly on anything less than a 3.2 GHz P4EE, since unlike some of the more popular Build engine games, it does NOT have a source port and Monolith never released the source for their fork of the engine. The Build engine's software renderer is also exponentially inefficient as you ramp up the resolution, such that said 1600x1200 mode was most likely never used in practice on period-appropriate hardware.

Reply 4 of 70, by Tertz

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It's practically doubtful. Speeds of P4 may give issues with ISA cards and in DOS software.
Maybe it can be solved by downclocking in some degree on some P4s. From CPU side, important is possibility to set speed ~P2 450-P3 500 or lower. Besides CPU other components may give compatibility issues too.

While those who want uber speeds in DOS games may use DOSBox or vm like Virtual PC.

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Reply 5 of 70, by derSammler

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2) Performance.

Well, performance of the P4 wasn't all that great. Afaik, at the same clock rate, the P4 was not able to beat any of the competition. It was only fast because due to the long pipeline, the clock rate could be pushed beyond what the competition offered back then. But that long pipeline was a performance killer at the same time. The NetBurst architecture just wasn't any good.

http://retro-net.de/blog.html

Reply 6 of 70, by Kamerat

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gdjacobs wrote:
Ampera wrote:

DOS isn't something you should really be doing beyond Slot 1, and MAYBE Socket A. At the time the Pentium 4 came out, DOS was dead and over with. PCI sound cards (and even integrated ones) were the popular ones, and everybody had Windows.

I disagree. Two good reasons why it can be a good idea:
1) It's cheap. BX systems and earlier can be quite expensive to purchase. P4 systems with the 865 chipset or Socket 754 Athlon64s with a VIA/SIS chipset are very common, inexpensive, and otherwise compatible with modern components. I'd suggest a 754 system over a P4 due to the availability of CPU reclocking tools that provide some additional flexibility. Add an ESS Solo 1 sound card and you've got a great system for DOS gaming.

I tried the Solo-1 with a couple of SiS chipsets for Pentium 4 and Athlon (64), not much success with that combo. A combo that worked great ont the other han were the SiS 645DX/962UA (Pentium 4 chipset) running with an ALS4000 soundcard, but the SiS 755FX/964L (Athlon 64) failed with the same card. For later SiS and Intel (up to i875) chipsets the Forté Media FM801-AU is an option, but it's not as compatible with games as the ALS4000 and the FM synth are not as nice.

It looks like VIA chipsets are a safe bet for the ESS Solo-1, I've seen reports that even their PCIe chipsets run along with it.

Ensoniq AudioPCI and Sound Blaster PCI/Live!/Audigy works with VIA, SiS and Intel (up to i875) if you don't care for FM synth and having a large TSR that requires EMM386 running in the background.

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
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Reply 7 of 70, by Jade Falcon

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Ampera wrote:

There is a really, really good reason why no Pentium 4 motherboards support ISA.

there a quite a few 478 boards with ISA
https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB16rVbOpXXXXXjXV … 2-PCI-Slots.jpg
http://www.baber.com/baber/gifs/411gifs/soyo_ … I-845pe-isa.jpg
http://g01.a.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1IlBxJpXXXXazXV … ted-working.jpg

and then there is this odd AT baord
Corvalent Gator AT; Pentium M board
http://img.directindustry.com/images_di/photo … 216-4812857.jpg

Reply 8 of 70, by gdjacobs

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Interesting about DDMA compatibility and SIS. Anyway, I'll defer to your knowledge about PCI sound cards. I think the point still stands that newer platforms can be viable and stretch into another performance range. Just check ahead on what PCI sound cards to buy.

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Reply 9 of 70, by nforce4max

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The way I feel about pentium 4 and ISA is pretty pointless at least for most games, expensive so most people don't get the opportunity.

On a far away planet reading your posts in the year 10,191.

Reply 10 of 70, by Tertz

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Kamerat wrote:

I tried the Solo-1 with a couple of SiS chipsets for Pentium 4 and Athlon (64), not much success with that combo. A combo that worked great ont the other han were the SiS 645DX/962UA (Pentium 4 chipset) running with an ALS4000 soundcard, but the SiS 755FX/964L (Athlon 64) failed with the same card. For later SiS and Intel (up to i875) chipsets the Forté Media FM801-AU is an option, but it's not as compatible with games as the ALS4000 and the FM synth are not as nice.

Did ALS4000 had good compatibility in DOS games with any of P4 Intel chipsets or other besides SiS 645DX/962UA ?

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Reply 11 of 70, by koverhbarc

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I had done as much looking on the web as I could before making this thread - obviously I didn't include all the information I had, but I figured anyone that could respond usefully would already know some of it. If I want to acquire the best gaming machine I may as well go all the way and get ISA, so I don't have to deal with the limitations that all PCI cards are going to have. And the reason they've become expensive is that there is demand for them ...

I knew I'd get some responses from AMD diehards that just want to bash P4, but it's really the only satisfactory choice here. I asked some specific questions in my post for a reason: I've already figured out which features I want and which I could compromise on, and I just want some options to look at and information to make the decision which will likely have to be final. NamelessPlayer mentioned a PCI/ISA bridge, but as stated I could find none of those things available - if I did I'd just throw it on one of the cheap new ASRock boards, and there we go.

I have been using DOS for 30 years in all, 13 years on a P4 (though without sound support - well, I didn't get any sound card til 1994, so less than 10 years with it!). Besides sound the only things stopping me from still using DOS as my primary non-Internet OS is the lack of FAT32 and LFN support, which are now indispensible - FAT32 is easy to get, but no _legal_ DOS has real (integrated) LFN support.

Reply 12 of 70, by koverhbarc

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Blood at 1600x1200 is a very good example - I've gotten about 20fps under NTVDM, but sound is notably imperfect even with SoundFX. The Build renderer does not seem to be that inefficient at high resolutions; its performance degrades at about the same rate as other software renderers I've tested.

Reply 13 of 70, by gdjacobs

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koverhbarc wrote:

I had done as much looking on the web as I could before making this thread - obviously I didn't include all the information I had, but I figured anyone that could respond usefully would already know some of it. If I want to acquire the best gaming machine I may as well go all the way and get ISA, so I don't have to deal with the limitations that all PCI cards are going to have. And the reason they've become expensive is that there is demand for them ...

I knew I'd get some responses from AMD diehards that just want to bash P4, but it's really the only satisfactory choice here. I asked some specific questions in my post for a reason: I've already figured out which features I want and which I could compromise on, and I just want some options to look at and information to make the decision which will likely have to be final. NamelessPlayer mentioned a PCI/ISA bridge, but as stated I could find none of those things available - if I did I'd just throw it on one of the cheap new ASRock boards, and there we go.

I have been using DOS for 30 years in all, 13 years on a P4 (though without sound support - well, I didn't get any sound card til 1994, so less than 10 years with it!). Besides sound the only things stopping me from still using DOS as my primary non-Internet OS is the lack of FAT32 and LFN support, which are now indispensible - FAT32 is easy to get, but no _legal_ DOS has real (integrated) LFN support.

If you have your cap set on ISA slots, an Intel board is likely going to be your best bet. You'll max out with an 865 or 875 chipset and socket 478 CPU.
http://www.flaterco.com/kb/ISA_chipsets.html

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Reply 14 of 70, by koverhbarc

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If you had read my posts in this thread - even the one you just quoted in its entirety - you'd know that I already know that, and posting it is distracting at best. In fact that very page was one of the first things that I found.

If there were any way I'd found to order such a board (or bridge) from a reputable seller, and for a reasonable price, I'd have already done it.

Reply 15 of 70, by gdjacobs

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I re-read your first post and after the detour (partly of my making - my apologies) we appear to have meandered to the point.

Ebay's dispute resolution is highly biased in favor of the buyer, so it might be your most straightforward option. It seems these industrial boards are available if not common. For instance, this Advantech AIMB-742 (made, it seems, by the industrial reincarnation of Epox).
http://www.ebay.com/itm/ADVANTECH-AIMB-742-P4 … rMAAOSwv0tVLm8H

Have you tried contacting some of the manufacturers to see if they have local or regional vendors you can deal with? Most of these boards are EOL, but someone might have old stock.

Be aware that Tertz is probably correct. Some chipsets will undoubtedly give you issues at full clock, so be prepared to test several ISA sound cards before finding one that works reliably. I've run into such issues with a 1.2Ghz T-Bird, and what you're planning goes quite a bit further beyond.

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Reply 16 of 70, by Kamerat

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Tertz wrote:
Kamerat wrote:

I tried the Solo-1 with a couple of SiS chipsets for Pentium 4 and Athlon (64), not much success with that combo. A combo that worked great ont the other han were the SiS 645DX/962UA (Pentium 4 chipset) running with an ALS4000 soundcard, but the SiS 755FX/964L (Athlon 64) failed with the same card. For later SiS and Intel (up to i875) chipsets the Forté Media FM801-AU is an option, but it's not as compatible with games as the ALS4000 and the FM synth are not as nice.

Did ALS4000 had good compatibility in DOS games with any of P4 Intel chipsets or other besides SiS 645DX/962UA ?

Only other board I got that runs Pentium 4 is a socket 775 one, the Asus P5SD2-A (SiS 671DX/968) which don't like the ALS4000. I wanted to try out an Asus P4S800-MX (SiS 661FX/963LUA) but the board is dead. Perhaps the compatibility dissapeard with the 963 southbridge when they doubled the MuTIOL speed or with the 964 southbridge when they got SATA.

For other chipset brands I guess that VIA based Pentium 4 chipset will work with the ALS4000, unfortunatley I don't have any of them to try out.

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
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Reply 17 of 70, by koverhbarc

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gdjacobs wrote:

Be aware that Tertz is probably correct. Some chipsets will undoubtedly give you issues at full clock, so be prepared to test several ISA sound cards before finding one that works reliably. I've run into such issues with a 1.2Ghz T-Bird, and what you're planning goes quite a bit further beyond.

I wouldn't be too worried. Many people have done this (including, I am sure, some posters here). The ISA bus always runs at its own clock independently from CPU speed, and I'd bet the industrial bridges on the 8xx boards are better about it than the afterthought ISA you got with those Athlon boards.

You are aware that eBay listing ships from China? Maybe I'm too pessimistic but that's always told me to stay away. Yes, the board looks good, but ... I don't like using eBay at all unless there's no other choice. I've been told that if you complain to them you get banned, and talking to a Chinese seller is probably not going to do any good even if they understand you.

Reply 19 of 70, by Tertz

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Kamerat wrote:

Perhaps the compatibility dissapeard with the 963 southbridge when they doubled the MuTIOL speed or with the 964 southbridge when they got SATA.

Among Intel ones, it would be interesting to try ALS4000 with 845 chipset.
What sound card model are you using and which DOS drivers?

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