VOGONS


First post, by Ruxini

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Hi all

Sorry for n00by questions - this is my first time working with a retro computer. Also I'm aware that my system from 1999 is probably way too new to being taken seriously by many of you, but I hope you will help me nonetheless.

I want to turn my childhood computer into the beast of my childhood dreams. The idea is to keep the case, HDD (no formatting) and the motherboard. I want to keep the computer's "soul" so that I get the experience of working on the same machine I used to as a child/youth. The machine is in working order and has never been formatted, so I have all the files etc from back then. The machine will be used in my sound recording studio (I made my first raps on that machine and would like to use it again).

The motherboard is a Gigabit GA-7IXE with Slot A.
specs https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/GA-7IXE-rev-11#ov

It looks like the fastest CPU I can get is the 1ghz, 200mhz bus AMD-K7100MNR53B A
specs http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/K7/AMD-Athlon%2 … MNR53B%20A.html

Questions:
1. Is there any way to get a faster CPU on the motherboard?
2. What kind of RAM should I get for this?
3. The motherboard has an AGP slot - does this mean I can put a Radeon HD 3850 GPU in there?
4. Can I do something to add an extra drive for storage? If so what would be the fastest?
5. Would it be possible to add a FireWire PCI card like this https://www.delock.com/produkt/89144/merkmale.html? (to be used for my RME FireFace400 audio device)
6. I would like to add a USB PCI card - is this possible and if so which would be the best/fastest?
7. Is there anything else I can do to make the machine run as fast as possible?
8. Is there something I should be aware of? (like the need to get new batteries for something, getting new PSU etc.)

Thank you very much for reading so far and hopefully for answering my n00by questions.

All the best
Rune

Reply 1 of 28, by pyrogx

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Ruxini wrote:

Questions:
1. Is there any way to get a faster CPU on the motherboard?

Nope, 1GHz Athlon seems to be the fastest Slot-A CPU. Good luck finding one though...

Ruxini wrote:

2. What kind of RAM should I get for this?

Any standard PC100 or PC133 DIMM SDRAM with up to 256MB capacity will do. Do not install more than 512MB if you're using Windows 95/98/ME.

Ruxini wrote:

3. The motherboard has an AGP slot - does this mean I can put a Radeon HD 3850 GPU in there?

No, only 3.3V or "Universal" AGP cards are compatible: See here: http://www.playtool.com/pages/agpcompat/agp.html

Ruxini wrote:

4. Can I do something to add an extra drive for storage? If so what would be the fastest?

Just add a second IDE harddisk (or SATA HD via adapter). The mainboard can handle up to four IDE devices.

Ruxini wrote:

5. Would it be possible to add a FireWire PCI card like this https://www.delock.com/produkt/89144/merkmale.html? (to be used for my RME FireFace400 audio device)
6. I would like to add a USB PCI card - is this possible and if so which would be the best/fastest?

Sure, you can add any PCI card you like - provided you can find Win9x drivers for it (you're probably running Win98 on it???)

Ruxini wrote:

7. Is there anything else I can do to make the machine run as fast as possible?

Not really...use good quality RAM, optimize RAM timings in BIOS, etc. Not many options for overclocking on that particular mainboard I think.

Ruxini wrote:

8. Is there something I should be aware of? (like the need to get new batteries for something, getting new PSU etc.)

You probably have to replace the small cell battery. Also check the power of your PSU if you add a power-hungry graphics card or more hardware. If you want to play DOS games, get an ISA soundcard, unless you already have one.

Reply 2 of 28, by The Serpent Rider

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The motherboard has an AGP slot - does this mean I can put a Radeon HD 3850 GPU in there?

Universal AGP GeForce 6600/6800 should work without any problems.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 5 of 28, by dionb

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Matth79 wrote:

Had a 7IXE4 (the Socket A version).
Fussy about RAM, needs low density - 128MB generally work fine, 256MB modules are a problem, as the high density seem to be more common

Terms like "low density" and "high density" are worse than useless taken out of context. What was "high density" in 1998 would be "low density" in 2000, what was "high density" in 2000 would be "low density" in 2002. Using vague descriptions just makes some pretty simple stuff unnecessarily complicated.

What you need to know is the max supported chip density of the AMD750 chipset. It's exactly the same as that of the i440BX: 128Mb. In 1998, this was called "high density", by 2000 is was "low density". In 1999 when this board appeared, anyone's guess which it qualified as - basically whatever the marketeer doing the write-up felt was best...

With max 128Mb per chip, and max 16 chips per DIMM, you have a max DIMM size of 256MB, provided the DIMM has 16 chips with 16Mx8 layout. The only other 16-chip 256MB DIMMs you might come accross are DIMMS with 32Mx4 chips which were invariably marketed as "Via-only" as they were outside of JEDEC-spec and only later Via SDRAM chipsets supported them. An AMD750-based system will not boot with one of these DIMMs. 8-chip 256MB DIMMs have 32Mx8 chips, i.e. 256Mb density. They will work, but only the first 128Mb of each chip will be accessible, so it will behave like a 128MB DIMM in this system.
Bottom line: any reputable 16-chip 256MB DIMM will have 16Mx8 chips and will work correctly.

With 128MB DIMMs even less can go wrong. 16-chip modules with 8Mx8 (64Mb density) and 8-chip modules with 16Mx8 (128Mb density) will work fine, only those "Via-only" 16Mx4 16 chip DIMMs will fail to work.

Reply 6 of 28, by red-ray

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I am having issues with the BIOS Hardware Monitoring screen on my Gigabyte 7IXE REV 1.1 system, is this a general issue and/or does anyone know how to resolve it please?

The screen comes up as below and then the system just seems to lock up, the only way to get the system back is to power cycle it.

I have BIOS F7 02/29/2000, a 750MHz AMD Athlon M2 (Pluto) + 640MB of memory.

I feel the W83782D sensor chip must be OK as it's reported OK by SIV when running Windows 2003 Server.

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Reply 7 of 28, by bloodem

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I've had this happen to me on many (and I mean MANY) motherboards from that era when connecting a modern low speed CPU or SYS fan. For some reason, the sensor sends a conflicting reading, which results in a BIOS freeze. This usually only happens on the "Health status" section, however, the worst behavior that I've seen was with an Abit ST6 paired with a low RPM system fan: you could only access the BIOS right after powering on the PC. After booting into Windows, restarting and hitting DEL, you would only get a black screen and a blue bar at the bottom. I permanently fixed the issue by connecting the system fan directly on the PSU, with a 4 pin molex adapter.

Now, in your case, I see that you have a high RPM CPU fan (which should be OK). Do you also have any other fan other than that? Looking at the photo, I see that the sys fan and power fan are at "0 RPM", but this could just be a bad reading.

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 8 of 28, by red-ray

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bloodem wrote on 2020-09-19, 10:23:

Do you also have any other fan other than that?

Thank you for your reply and there was just the CPU fan connected. I hooked up two more fans, but it still locks up. How low is low?

With the Gigabyte 7IXE the W83782D has to be read via the SMBus, so my guess is that the BIOS SMBus support is wonky, does your Abit ST6 have SMBus for LPC sensors?

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Reply 9 of 28, by bloodem

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Can you try and temporarily remove all fans, including the CPU cooler and check again the health section, see if it still freezes?
Also, Abit ST6 was just an example, this happened to me on a lot of boards from 1998 - 2001, too many to count. 😀

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 10 of 28, by Doornkaat

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Three observations: Vcore is lower than spec (1.6V/1.632V shown / 1.7V spec), there's no -5V detected and you should have VBAT and 5VSB listed in the right column.
I would suspect the missing -5V value as the culprit since the two values detected after it (VBAT and 5VSB) aren't listed plus the navigation menu in the lower right corner is missing which is loaded on screen after the list of values. (Sorry for my bad English description.)
You could try a lower clocked processor or increasing Vcore (if there's a way to do so avaliable to you) and using a PSU with known good -5V rail to rule those out as the culprit.

Reply 11 of 28, by red-ray

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Doornkaat wrote on 2020-09-19, 12:07:

there's no -5V detected and you should have VBAT and 5VSB listed in the right column.

The Thermaltake SPG-0600D-BZ PSU I am using does not supply -5 so I guess it's zero volts.

I tried it with the CPU Fan disconnected and most of the time it still locks up, but once it did not. As I recall it reported the CPU fan speed as about 5000 RPM when it should have been zero and also reported about -5 volts + VBAT + 5VSB.

I now suspect it's the lack of -5 that triggers the lockup and suspect if I used a Dual DC-DC converter such as https://cpc.farnell.com/recom-power/rd-1205d/ … l-5v/dp/SC14001 to supply -5 the issue would go away.

Update: I managed to find a PSU that supplies -5V and using that it's OK

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Reply 13 of 28, by bloodem

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Interesting! I've never seen this behavior being linked to a missing -5V. Good catch Doornkaat. 😀
It just so happens that in one or two weeks I'll also receive a GA-7IXE board (my first ever Slot A board), so this is helpful - one less thing that I would need to debug 😀
@red-ray: how long have you had the board? Are you seeing any signs of instability (particularly related to AGP)?

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 14 of 28, by red-ray

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bloodem wrote on 2020-09-19, 13:32:

@red-ray: how long have you had the board? Are you seeing any signs of instability (particularly related to AGP)?

I bought it from https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/362939343399 and the first board arrived on 04-Sep-2020 and would not post. It gave eight short beeps with a post code of Ed E0 which is a GPU memory error. I got this with several different AGP and PCI VGA cards so I returned it.

The second one arrived on 14-Sep-2020 and so far every GPU I have tried works OK. I have not used it that much and got it mainly so I would have an AMD Athlon (Pluto) to figure out why reading the K7 MSRs caused issues on an Argon CPU, but not on Thunderbird and later CPUs. The Pluto had the same issue as the Argon so I made it so away and at the moment I am looking for a cheap Argon CPU for it.

Last edited by red-ray on 2020-09-19, 14:39. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 15 of 28, by bloodem

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Got it, thanks! I have a Pluto 750 MHz CPU and two Thunderbird 700 MHz CPUs, so I'm quite curious to test them out and see how they work.

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 16 of 28, by red-ray

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bloodem wrote on 2020-09-19, 14:16:

I have a Pluto 750 MHz CPU and two Thunderbird 700 MHz CPUs, so I'm quite curious to test them out and see how they work.

Which OS do you plan to install? If it's NT/2K/XP or later I would be interested to see what Menu->Hardware->MSRs->MSRs AMD K7 using SIV 5.54 Beta-08 or later reports on your Thunderbirds. Here I get as below.

file.php?id=92477

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Reply 17 of 28, by bloodem

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I usually go with Windows 98 for such an old platform. However, if it will help you, I can quickly install XP, run SIV and report back 😀
If all goes well, I should have the board in 1 - 2 weeks.

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 18 of 28, by red-ray

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bloodem wrote on 2020-09-19, 15:04:

I usually go with Windows 98 for such an old platform. However, if it will help you, I can quickly install XP, run SIV and report back 😀
If all goes well, I should have the board in 1 - 2 weeks.

Thank you, I often/usually setup my systems as multi-boot as these days disks are big enough to easily allow this. What disk do you plan to use? Looking at https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/GA-7IXE- … support-dl-bios I suspect the limit may be 128GB, I am using a 32GB SD card adapter. I installed MS-DOS on a 2GB FAT-16 C:, used that to update the BIOS from F3 to F7 and then installed 2003 on a 16GB NTFS logical drive.

AFAIK it's impossible to sensibly check if MSRs exist of W9x as they do not support Kernel Mode SEHs (Structured Exception Handlers) which is why it needs to be NT/2K/XP or later.

Reply 19 of 28, by bloodem

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I usually go with either 80 GB PATA HDDs or with an 120 GB SSD with SATA TO PATA/IDE adapter. I think SD card adapters are OK for tests, however for actual usage I saw a big performance penalty - even though they have very good read/write speeds, for some reason (maybe the missing cache?) there's a very noticeable intermittent stuttering during gameplay (at least with the adapters that I tried).

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k