VOGONS


First post, by superfury

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I'm currently busy disassembling the ET4000 rev 8.01 BIOS for figuring out the RAMDAC detection algorithm (for making the RAMDAC detection of emulated RAMDACs(e.g. UniPCemu, Dosbox etc.) more accurate in being detected).

Can such a disassembly file be uploaded on vogons, under the Fair Use (If I'm reading the ters of use correct) uploading rule? I don't know if it's allowed or not due to copyright etc. (if it's still copyrighted or not, which I doubt for the most part)? I so far have most interesting parts disassembled (almost the entire detection algorithm, except 1 or 2 subfunctions), which would add a lot of (unclear in the WhatVGA specs) clearing up of information regarding detecting said RAMDACs. This would be especially interesting to emulator builders like myself. And of course fans of retro hardware (in particular people dealing with things like said RAMDAC).

I'm currently doing the disassembly and informational part using the IDA disassembler, adding documentation by creating the required functions from the code and renaming them to be describing what they do. Left most of the ROM alone, just focussing on figuring out the entry points, then getting down to the RAMDAC detection part and creating functions and informational descriptions of the blocks within it (to create a full description of how the RAMDACs are actually detected).

Although the IDA reverse engineering file seems to contain the entire ROM and might be able to reassemble the ROM (don't know for sure, due to assembler ambiguations. Although the hex view clearly shows the original ROM), which might be copyrighted?

Author of the UniPCemu emulator.
UniPCemu Git repository
UniPCemu for Android, Windows and PSP on itch.io

Reply 1 of 8, by mr.cat

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superfury, a great question, it's such a gray area. Some guidelines on VOGONs would be nice.
Looks like copyright itself is quite a long term deal (50+ yrs), but Fair Use provides exceptions to this (also each country have their own variations.)
If you go by that, reversing that is needed for repairs for example should be OK.
But of course if you want to be absolutely on the safe side you can just go and ban everything. That's the easy way out.

Reply 2 of 8, by superfury

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Well, the most interesting part is that I've managed to pretty much disassemble and document the whole ET4000 rev 8.01 BIOS's DAC detection(in IDA) with naming of all used jumps and functions, but I'm not sure if I can post that file on this forum for others to look at and observe how the DAC is actually detected on real systems(obviously Dosbox is cheating here, since it performs none of that and real ET4000 BIOS disagrees with the given output and DAC behaviour).
The same for Dosbox-X.

There's only two function in there that don't seem to make full sense yet (due to complex behaviour in them).

I want to post them on the forum for people to look at and give me input on it's behaviour, but I'm not sure if the mods will allow this?

And since the disassembled code might be forbidden to post here, that creates a slight issue here.

According to the Terms of Use ( ucp.php?mode=terms ):

Certain works which you cannot legally release under an open license may also be posted to VOGONS using the special “Fair use” l […]
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Certain works which you cannot legally release under an open license may also be posted to VOGONS using the special “Fair use” license. These works must be: So that means uploading an IDA file with the fair use license selected at the upload form?

Freeware, shareware, and other similar software where the copyright owner granted redistribution rights; or It's neither of those
Screenshots, videos, or audio recordings of small portions of copyrighted material for the purposes of education or research; or It's neither of those as well.
Portions of copyrighted code or documentation for the purposes of education or research.

I have the parts that are of interest mostly documented and in IDA(using it's options to create names for stuff and addresses for it's disassembly). The remainder of the ROM is partly disassembled(the default disassembled ROM when importing it and some seperate steps for getting from the boot and minimal structures (jumptables etc.) to get to the actual location of the code of interest). And of course, the hex tab actually shows the full ROM there.[/quote]

Of course there's still the matter of if the copyright still counts. Tseng Labs (according to Wikipedia) . They went on to be eventually owned (after multiple takeovers) by a pharmaceutical company (OSI Pharmaceuticals)?
Don't know if it would matter what happens to such an old ROM to them (nothing to do with Tseng anymore)? And eventually that company ended up in the hands of Astellas Pharma Inc (anoyher pharmaceutical company).

I doubt a pharmaceutical company would make a mess over such an old ROM for a graphics card?

Forum mods? What are your opinions on this?

Last edited by superfury on 2021-02-08, 19:01. Edited 1 time in total.

Author of the UniPCemu emulator.
UniPCemu Git repository
UniPCemu for Android, Windows and PSP on itch.io

Reply 5 of 8, by mr.cat

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superfury wrote on 2021-02-08, 18:48:

Of course there's still the matter of if the copyright still counts. Tseng Labs (according to Wikipedia) . They went on to be eventually owned (after multiple takeovers) by a pharmaceutical company (OSI Pharmaceuticals)?
Don't know if it would matter what happens to such an old ROM to them (nothing to do with Tseng anymore)? And eventually that company ended up in the hands of Astellas Pharma Inc (anoyher pharmaceutical company).

I doubt a pharmaceutical company would make a mess over such an old ROM for a graphics card?

A slight correction. According to this article, all the graphics assets went to ATI:
https://www.cnet.com/news/ati-technologies-buys-tseng-labs/

Reply 6 of 8, by ALEKS

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I am also interested in the legal aspects of the Tseng ROMs as I modified one of them for personal use only to do some extra stuff. I originally wanted to document everything on my site but then had some second thoughts since the original ROM is certainly within the legal copyright timespan.

I'm wondering what would be the success rate of contacting ATI (well, AMD) in this matter?

I tried in the past to contact Intel because i was forced to reverse engineer a network interface controller since there was no documentation (datasheet) available. I spoke with some very nice persons, both via e-mail and live chat but in the end the official Intel response was that the datasheet for that specific chip was not found in their archive.

Intel 80386DX / 33 MHz | 32 Mb RAM | Tseng Labs ET4000/W32i with 2 Mb RAM | ISA I/O Interface | ISA Audio Interface | 3.5" & 5.25" FDD | 4 x CF 512 Mb | Intel EtherExpress 16

Reply 7 of 8, by mr.cat

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ALEKS, you're right to tread carefully there. Just because something is "old" doesn't mean it's suddenly free to do anything with.
It probably comes down to whether this stuff has any relevance to AMD's current business. I suspect it doesn't, but it's not always so obvious.
For example, Intel had some 486-derived stuff (Quark) in their lineup up to until quite recently.

As for hosting, it would seem best to follow BloodCactus' sage advice.

Reply 8 of 8, by ALEKS

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I think you are right. I mean even for the reverse engineering of that old '90s Intel chip, I decided to not document anything publicly. And no schematics containing that chip will be available ever. I think it's best that if tinkering with copyrighted material is kept for personal use only. Especially since we're talking of still existing big corporations that are the copyright holders.

Honestly I don't think an old '90s VIDEO ROM image would be of interest to AMD. But then again, better safe than sorry.

I was thinking about crafting a new VGA BIOS for the ET4000/W32i in assembly. That would not be that hard (especially given the big pool of information both hardware and software that surfaced lately) but it would still include portions of disassembled code from the original ROM. Which would still not be legal.

Intel 80386DX / 33 MHz | 32 Mb RAM | Tseng Labs ET4000/W32i with 2 Mb RAM | ISA I/O Interface | ISA Audio Interface | 3.5" & 5.25" FDD | 4 x CF 512 Mb | Intel EtherExpress 16