HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Discussion about old PC hardware.

HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Mumak » 2019-9-05 @ 21:56

Hi,

I'm Martin, author of HWiNFO. Just like Franck (CPU-Z) and Ray (SIV) I'm very interested in improving support of vintage hardware in HWiNFO and for this I need your help.
HWiNFO still offers a DOS version for the eldest systems (from 8086/80286), which is however no longer maintained due to several reasons (most serious was its large size and thus the system memory requirements).
One big advantage of HWiNFO for DOS is the support of very old systems, direct access to hardware and ability to even read the CPU ID of 386+ CPUs that don't support the CPUID instruction. For those interested in details - this is achieved by issuing a soft-reset to the CPU and gaining control before the BIOS does (to catch the signature registers) via an A20M trick, then returning back to the previous state. This process is absolutely transparent and the user doesn't notice it.

HWiNFO32 runs under Windows, but has some restrictions to minimum OS supported. This is Win98 and Win NT4.0. I was evaluating support of older systems, but due to the effort required and low outcome expected (not much to offer for example on CPUs w/o CPUID), I'd recommend to use the DOS version on such systems.

It would be great if you could test HWiNFO32 on some of your machines and post the results. As for the feedback, I'd need the HWiNFO Report File and Debug File. See here for details how to create the Debug File: https://www.hwinfo.com/forum/threads/re ... eport.241/

Besides vintage CPUs (preferably those that support CPUID) I'm also very interested in VGAs (ISA/VLB). HWiNFO32 has direct (low-level) support of many old VGA/SVGA adapters (Tseng, Trident, S3, Cirrus, ARK, ALG, Avance, C&T, etc..), so they should be identified even without drivers installed.

Before you go ahead, please start with the latest version, this is currently v6.15 Beta. It has improved support of several legacy hardware.

Thanks in advance !
Last edited by Mumak on 2019-11-26 @ 09:06, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby GL1zdA » 2019-9-05 @ 23:28

What is the reason, that everybody wants to add support for vintage hardware to their applications?
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby cyclone3d » 2019-9-05 @ 23:44

Maybe because all the newer stuff is already added and getting boring?
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby SPBHM » 2019-9-06 @ 02:11

very cool, I loaded it on my PC Chips m535 (and it detects and gives me a motherboard name among other names used for the same board, unlike other software I tried recently like cpuz and aida!) PC and it seemed to work pretty well, what I notice it didn't detect was anything about the sound card (ISA YMF719), also I have to look into it a little more but perhaps the video memory size of the Stealth 64 2001 was also not correct (but I have to check if the card actually has 4MB or the 2MB detected right now, I think it has 2MB soldered and another 2MB in socket :lol: )

also I had a blue screen, I ran the benchmark and it displayed results (one interesting is that it offered me MMX benchmarks by default, even if the software is aware the p54c doesn't support it! but I unchecked that manually), but the moment I clicked to close the benchmark results window I got a blue screen, not sure what's going on there.

well I thought the amount of stuff it detect correctly was quite good on this, but I think it's newer than what you are asking for in this thread, anyway thanks for the great tool.

edit for report file; also regarding the video memory I checked the card and it has soldered 8x hy534256alj-60 and 2x km416c256bj-6, I guess this configuration doesn't make a lot of sense and hwinfo is right and the card is only using the 2MB soldered?!

another edit, after further investigation I'm quite convinced my MB is actually a m538 (due to the ram voltage jumper, it matches the m538/amptron pm-9000, not the m535)
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby keenmaster486 » 2019-9-06 @ 05:26

I love HWINFO - when it works.

HWINFO32/64 I have never had any issues with, even when it gives me various mysterious warnings.

HWINFO for DOS is always a pain in the neck. I rarely am able to get it to run without issues, for the following reasons: (this is based on testing over many years on many different machines):
  • It won't run with EMM386 or any other memory manager; almost always crashes before fully loading.
  • It is too big to fit into memory if you either load HIMEM only or shell directly to command prompt.
I wish it did have an option for compatibility; maybe disable some stuff to make it work with EMM386! Then it would be the perfect hardware info tool for DOS.

I know you aren't maintaining the DOS version any more; just wanted to mention I have no complaints about the Windows version but the DOS version always gives me fits.
I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Mumak » 2019-9-06 @ 05:51

cyclone3d wrote:Maybe because all the newer stuff is already added and getting boring?


Yeah, that's one of the reasons :-)
Another one is that I started working on HWiNFO for DOS more than 25 years ago and as the systems evolved I almost forgot all those ancient systems. Now when I checked back (also because of Ray and Franck), it brings nice memories.. Detecting some of the non-PnP hardware was a real challenge..
So it's more about nostalgy :-D
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Mumak » 2019-9-06 @ 05:58

SPBHM wrote:very cool, I loaded it on my PC Chips m535 (and it detects and gives me a motherboard name among other names used for the same board, unlike other software I tried recently like cpuz and aida!) PC and it seemed to work pretty well, what I notice it didn't detect was anything about the sound card (ISA YMF719), also I have to look into it a little more but perhaps the video memory size of the Stealth 64 2001 was also not correct (but I have to check if the card actually has 4MB or the 2MB detected right now, I think it has 2MB soldered and another 2MB in socket :lol: )

also I had a blue screen, I ran the benchmark and it displayed results (one interesting is that it offered me MMX benchmarks by default, even if the software is aware the p54c doesn't support it! but I unchecked that manually), but the moment I clicked to close the benchmark results window I got a blue screen, not sure what's going on there.

well I thought the amount of stuff it detect correctly was quite good on this, but I think it's newer than what you are asking for in this thread, anyway thanks for the great tool.


Thanks for the feedback. It's not that new, so I'd love to get the report files from that system to check what can be improved/fixed.
The YMF719 sound card can't be detected, not even sure if the DOS version would be able to do so. And I haven't ported detection of ISA sounds cards into the Windows version yet.
Problem here is that those detection methods can be destructive - testing for a certain card can result in overwriting registers of another one. That wasn't a very big issue in DOS, but under Windows this can result in serious issues and crashes.
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Mumak » 2019-9-06 @ 06:11

keenmaster486 wrote:I love HWINFO - when it works.

HWINFO32/64 I have never had any issues with, even when it gives me various mysterious warnings.

HWINFO for DOS is always a pain in the neck. I rarely am able to get it to run without issues, for the following reasons: (this is based on testing over many years on many different machines):
  • It won't run with EMM386 or any other memory manager; almost always crashes before fully loading.
  • It is too big to fit into memory if you either load HIMEM only or shell directly to command prompt.
I wish it did have an option for compatibility; maybe disable some stuff to make it work with EMM386! Then it would be the perfect hardware info tool for DOS.

I know you aren't maintaining the DOS version any more; just wanted to mention I have no complaints about the Windows version but the DOS version always gives me fits.


Yeah, I'm aware of those issues. Memory Managers are problematic as many of them (those which switch to V86 Mode) don't allow HWiNFO to perform certain checks or low access to hardware. I implemented a trick for this, but sometime it didn't work well.
Large memory footprint was the biggest issue, HWiNFO has grown very large over time and adding any further extensions or support of new systems would result in further growth. Even though I did several optimizations over time, it wasn't possible to continue. The only solution to go ahead was to port it completely under a DOS Extended and that would be a really huge effort.
But I believe it is still possible to run HWiNFO for DOS when using the optimal configuration. Most important is to load HIMEM.SYS, use DOS=HIGH and avoid loading any unnecessary drivers or TSR programs.
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby BSA Starfire » 2019-9-06 @ 15:26

Thanks from me too, been using the windows versions for a long time, cracking bit of software. I've got to be honest, wasn't even aware that a DOS version existed, for old stuff DRHARD has been my go to, any interest in seeing if your DOS version will run on on a Cyrix Media GX system, it's a Compaq Presario 2232, never found ANY diagnostics program so far that will work on the thing most just outright crash or at best get it totally wrong! I've had it for years and still don't know the actual CPU clock speed. It'll be a bit of a pain as it has no ISA slots for a network card, no USB ports to use a stick and the CD-ROM drive doesn't like CDR's so transfers will have to be via floppy disk. It's running windows 95 with 40 MB RAM.
I have a few other oddities that perhaps folk on here might not use as they are not the best choice for games, a DOS based AMD K5 PR 166(DOS), a couple of Cryrix MII 333 based machines with Windows ME, Amstrad 486 DX/2 66 WB with Win 95 at the minute plus the 286 and 386 machines in my sig.
Anyhow, let me know, if any of this crap is of interest to test and fool with I'll drag them out over the weekend and see what does what.
Edit: Also a Zida tomato 4DPS with a UMC U5S 40 MHz 486 class chip I can have a go with under DOS, this is probably my only other real obscure chip.
286 20MHz,1MB RAM,Trident 9000B 512K, Conner CFA-170A
386SX 25MHz,i387SX,10MB RAM,Cirrus CL-GD5410 256K, Fujitsu M2611T 40 MB.
386SX 33MHz,ULSI 387,4MB Ram,ALi M1217,OAK OTI077 1MB. Seagate ST1144A. Soundblaster 1350B.
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Mumak » 2019-9-06 @ 15:39

BSA Starfire wrote:Thanks from me too, been using the windows versions for a long time, cracking bit of software. I've got to be honest, wasn't even aware that a DOS version existed, for old stuff DRHARD has been my go to, any interest in seeing if your DOS version will run on on a Cyrix Media GX system, it's a Compaq Presario 2232, never found ANY diagnostics program so far that will work on the thing most just outright crash or at best get it totally wrong! I've had it for years and still don't know the actual CPU clock speed. It'll be a bit of a pain as it has no ISA slots for a network card, no USB ports to use a stick and the CD-ROM drive doesn't like CDR's so transfers will have to be via floppy disk. It's running windows 95 with 40 MB RAM.
I have a few other oddities that perhaps folk on here might not use as they are not the best choice for games, a DOS based AMD K5 PR 166(DOS), a couple of Cryrix MII 333 based machines with Windows ME, Amstrad 486 DX/2 66 WB with Win 95 at the minute plus the 286 and 386 machines in my sig.
Anyhow, let me know, if any of this crap is of interest to test and fool with I'll drag them out over the weekend and see what does what.
Edit: Also a Zida tomato 4DPS with a UMC U5S 40 MHz 486 class chip I can have a go with under DOS, this is probably my only other real obscure chip.


Sure, I'm interested in any of those :-)
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby CuPid » 2019-9-06 @ 16:22

Welcome Martin :happy:

Here is a report of my (freshly installed) Abit PH5 (SiS5511 + 5512).
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Mumak » 2019-9-06 @ 16:32

CuPid wrote:Welcome Martin :happy:

Here is a report of my (freshly installed) Abit PH5 (SiS5511 + 5512).


Thanks! Looks quite good to me, the only issue I need to fix is that the VGA is reported twice. But I can access its internal registers well, so that's nice :-)
The drive wasn't identified because IDE scan is set to Safe mode, switching to Low-level IO Access might do it.
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby CuPid » 2019-9-06 @ 16:42

Mumak wrote:Thanks! Looks quite good to me, the only issue I need to fix is that the VGA is reported twice. But I can access its internal registers well, so that's nice :-)
The drive wasn't identified because IDE scan is set to Safe mode, switching to Low-level IO Access might do it.


OK. The system uses a CF to IDE converter, FYI.
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Stiletto » 2019-9-06 @ 19:12

Mumak wrote:
cyclone3d wrote:Maybe because all the newer stuff is already added and getting boring?


Yeah, that's one of the reasons :-)
Another one is that I started working on HWiNFO for DOS more that 25 years ago and as the systems evolved I almost forgot all those ancient systems. Now when I checked back (also because of Ray and Franck), it brings nice memories.. Detecting some of the non-PnP hardware was a real challenge..
So it's more about nostalgy :-D


Okay, but what brought you guys all here at around the same time? First SIV, then CPU-Z, now HWINFO... did you all talk to each other? (I hope so - AFAIK you're all closed-source utilities and some of your discoveries are worth sharing with each other.) Or are you all still "competing"?
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Mumak » 2019-9-06 @ 19:19

Stiletto wrote:
Mumak wrote:
cyclone3d wrote:Maybe because all the newer stuff is already added and getting boring?


Yeah, that's one of the reasons :-)
Another one is that I started working on HWiNFO for DOS more that 25 years ago and as the systems evolved I almost forgot all those ancient systems. Now when I checked back (also because of Ray and Franck), it brings nice memories.. Detecting some of the non-PnP hardware was a real challenge..
So it's more about nostalgy :-D


Okay, but what brought you guys all here at around the same time? First SIV, then CPU-Z, now HWINFO... did you all talk to each other? (I hope so - AFAIK you're all closed-source utilities and some of your discoveries are worth sharing with each other.) Or are you all still "competing"?


Yes, we talk on almost daily basis and share some information. I wouldn't say that we're competing as our tools are different and target different audience/usage.
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby kixs » 2019-9-06 @ 19:39

Saw the thread and thought to myself... yet another one is going retro :confused: :lol:

You guys have really cool utils... and I thought everything I've ever needed was already made :lol:

I hope to find some free time to contribute...
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby agent_x007 » 2019-9-07 @ 10:35

Too many cores/too little threads (HT was active, however Win98 can only do 1 Core/1 Thread max.).
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby red-ray » 2019-9-07 @ 11:05

agent_x007 wrote:Too many cores/too little threads (HT was active, however Win98 can only do 1 Core/1 Thread max.).

Why, it's reporting the number of L1 + L2 caches the CPU has rather than what is being used, SIV reports the same, but only shows one CPU as this is what Windows 9X supports.

Out of interest what does the CPU #0 panel report? I suspect there will be 6 cores, but 5 will be greyed based on what HWiNFO32 does on this system. Obviously HWiNFO64 shows all 18.

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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby Mumak » 2019-9-07 @ 15:15

I see that we can get here really unexpected combinations :-D Good to test our tools :-D
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Re: HWiNFO support of vintage hardware

Postby CuPid » 2019-9-07 @ 15:18

Am486DX4-WB on SiS496/497.
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