VOGONS


First post, by sofakng

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I'm looking at my IBM PC 350 which has an S3 Trio64V+ on the motherboard. However, there are two empty sockets above it:

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Could I add more video memory? If so, where can I find memory chips and what kind?

Also, is it even worth it?

Reply 1 of 10, by auron

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this is 1 megabyte of EDO DRAM, expandable to probably 2 megs. check the pin count and look for similar 256kx16bit chips in SOJ package, 60ns.

1mb video memory is certainly on the stingy side for 1997 but actually it's generally all you'll need for DOS gaming - it's even enough to do 800x600x8 with page flipping so late VESA 2.0 games like duke3d would be totally fine on it. on the windows side 800x600x16 and 1024x768x8 can be displayed, but without page flipping, so any games that use that might show tearing. i've actually been meaning to look into this, but i'm not sure how practical it is in the first place to run 1999 and later directdraw games on an s3 trio as driver support was simply nonexistent by that point. i've seen a matrox millennium display diablo 2 with glitches, and that's with the 1999 stock drivers from 98se.

but to answer the question, if this is just a pentium 1 machine, i really wouldn't bother with this upgrade as the 1mb won't limit anything that could run decently on that thing (unless you really feel the need to run very high desktop resolutions). the only real upgrade path would be a 3d accelerator and then you'd need to add a different card anyway.

Last edited by auron on 2021-06-02, 22:18. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 10, by BitWrangler

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One could say that filling those holes is almost as useful as an 8087, keeps the dust out of the socket, and every couple of years or so, you can run that one thing that takes advantage of it, to show off to fellow geeks. 😁

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Reply 3 of 10, by sofakng

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Thanks a bunch for the advice. It sounds like it's not worth looking into.

Besides a 3D accelerator (ie. 3dfx Voodoo), are there any 2D cards that help with Duke3D or other software-only games?

For example, will it be possible to play Duke 3D at 800x600 on a Pentium MMX 233? (with a "good" 2D card?)

Reply 4 of 10, by BitWrangler

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Has to support VBE 2.0 I think to get 800x600, seems pretty fluent on my PII, but guess that's not much help.

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 5 of 10, by auron

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sofakng wrote on 2021-06-03, 01:28:

Besides a 3D accelerator (ie. 3dfx Voodoo), are there any 2D cards that help with Duke3D or other software-only games?

in terms of VGA output quality some cards may potentially be better as some trios can be a bit soft depending on output circuitry, but performance-wise the s3 trio is pretty appropriate for that machine already. iirc 200mmx on 430tx did ~55mb/s in VSPEED with a matrox millennium, which any s3 trio should match, and the s3 has better DOS compatibility anyway. just make sure that a VESA 2.0 BIOS is present already via pcpbench /modes and if not, load S3VBE20 and S3SPDUP if needed.

i think pcpbench might actually require triple buffering in LFB mode, so 800x600x8 wouldn't work with 1mb, but try it out.

sofakng wrote on 2021-06-03, 01:28:

For example, will it be possible to play Duke 3D at 800x600 on a Pentium MMX 233? (with a "good" 2D card?)

since i think a good p133 gets 640x480 quite playable, my answer would be probably yes, but framerates would be in the 20-30 range, so not everyone would like that. i think its fine for that game because there's no need for Y-axis aiming anyway and the aforementioned page flipping means you'll never see tearing in VESA modes. shadow warrior and blood can be somewhat heavier on the CPU demands though.

Reply 6 of 10, by megatron-uk

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I agree, the Trio64 will supply all of the video performance needed for virtually every Dos game ever made. And it should have enough performance for most basic (non3d) Windows (3.1/95/98) application use too.

It's only when you come to games that have very specific requirements (or hardware accelerated for one chipset or another) that you would notice any difference.

The Trio should have VBE built in, but if not, Univbe should round out any missing video modes you may need.

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Reply 7 of 10, by sofakng

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Thanks so much for the help! This PC also came with a dedicated video card "Sigma Designs f/64" with a Weitek Power 9100 chip on it. I'm not sure the difference (benefit) of using that over the onboard Trio 64V+.

Does anybody know about the Sigma Designs f/64 (Weitek Power 9100) and if I should use that instead of the onboard Trio 64V+?

Do you guys agree that I shouldn't bother trying to find the add-on memory for the onboard Trio64?

Reply 8 of 10, by megatron-uk

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The Power 9000 is a dedicated Windows accelerator. It will have absolutely no impact to Dos (some of them came with fairly basic Dos VGA chips on the card to get around the fact they were windows GUI acceleration ONLY).

I'm not sure how the P9100 compares with the Trio64V+. The Trio is a year younger and a more 'modern', integrated design... But it was very much a middle of the road chip, the P9000 series is older (though the 9100 seems to be only a year or so older than the trio), but was very much a high end design in its time.

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Reply 9 of 10, by matze79

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The P9100 sucks in MS-DOS.
I would not recommend it.

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Reply 10 of 10, by BitWrangler

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It's hard to improve too much on that Trio chip for 2D without getting anal and benchmarking a pile of cards against it on that particular system. Just a slightly gimped PCI implementation and you might find anything you can put in there only equals it, and theoretically good chipsets could have been put on indifferent boards.

It's not worth spending any money filling the RAM sockets, any socketed chips on dead hardware tend to get liberated right quick, but if you see some matching chips soldered down, on otherwise useless parts, there's this trick... SOJ chips, Small Outline J, with the curled over pins, usually have most of their electrical and mechanical connectivity in a fillet of solder on the outside of the pin. This means that you can take an Xacto knife or a boxcutter, and score down the line of the pins, aiming at a slight angle into the board. You should merely be carving through the solder. Score well on both sides, and take it lighter as you get closer to being through otherwise you'll bend the first and last pins in line... Then then it seems there's barely anything holding it, you can stick a flat screwdriver blade on it and twist... hopefully it pops off nicely.. it might pull off a pad or two... you can carefully scrape off any larger chunks with the tip of the knife, and then take a wire brush to it to clean it off well.... now hopefully you'll have an intact, thermally unstressed 40 Pin SOJ RAM chip you can fill up empty sockets with.

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?