VOGONS


My SiS 730S Duron system!

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First post, by alexanrs

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Hello everyone!

Recently I managed to build a nice Spitfire Duron system based on the one I had in my mid-early tens. The specs are as follows:

  • Motherboard: PCChips M810LU rev 8.0
  • Chipset: SiS 730S
  • Processor: AMD Duron 950 MHz "Spitfire"
  • RAM: 2x 128MB PC133 CL3
  • Video: SiS 630/730 (integrated to the chipset)
  • Sound: SiS 7018 (integrated to the chipset) - based on a Trident designed with hardware acceleration
  • HDD: 80GB PATA drive
  • ODD: LG DVD burner
  • Operational Systems: Windows 2000 + Windows 98 SE

Yep, I'm using the onboard stuff. Back when I had my original Duron that is what I had for a while (until I got a hand-me-down GeForce MX 440 AGP8x), and wanted to have that experience again 🤣 Anyway. here are some pictures of the hardware. I decided to stick to a single IDE channel to reduce the clutter inside the case. My cable management skills are lacking, but I believe I did a good enough job 😀
T2OipBcm.jpg?2 kuGUw3em.jpg?1 2trAOmjm.jpg 1snafdpm.jpg

Video
My first issue with the onboard vídeo is that it does not support widescreen resolutions, so I had to settle for 1280x1024. Back in the day my Duron was hooked up to a 15" cheap CRT that could not go past 1024x768 anyway, so I guess I should not complain. Video performance is, by far, nothing to write home about, as expected. Seems stable, though, and I don't think there is a big performance difference between the Win98 and Win2000 drivers. Also, lowering the resolution to 640x480 makes it perform much better.

Windows 98 benchmarks:
okVutoMm.png SgSBDGjm.png
0DABKZAm.png zahLItym.png
ij5WGdhm.png

Windows 2000 benchmarks (yeah, I goofed on the last screenshot - CPUz is in the wrong tab):
wwXoCdam.png 9vqcJOLm.png
0IQrX3Bm.png

As far as DOS goes - DOOM, Duke Nukem 3D and Commander Keen 4/5/6 seem to work fine. DOOM has this weird behaviour, though, that both in Win98 and Win2000 it will not update the screen correctly (kind of like tearing, but all over the screen), but in pure DOS it works perfectly. How odd. The analog signal quality is passable, but nowhere near Matrox quality levels.

Sound
The interesting thing about the SiS 630/730 chipset is the sound core. Unlike the SiS 7012 used in later chipsets, the SiS 7018 is hardware accelerated and not some dumb software-driven codec. It also has DOS drivers and a decent mixer. In Windows I don't really have anything to say except that I had no issues with the sound drivers. The WDM drivers do not support the acceleration features of the sound core, so I had to pass a parameter to the sound driver's SETUP.EXE to force it to install the VxD drivers. It features a software GM synth that is nothing to write home about, and the analog output quality is decent, but does have a faint background hiss.

For DOS gaming.... OPL emulation sucks. Like... really sucks. And in Windows the VxD drivers seem to fail to expose the software synth to DOS apps within Windows. GM works just fine in pure DOS. Also, the DOS drivers can be set to emulate either a SB16 or a SBPro and take about 30KB of conventional memory. It uses two files, SNDINIT.EXE and SNDTSR.EXE - the first EXE just initializes the hardware (and the mixer), and the second allows the emulation to work fully. Duke Nukem 3D crashes when exiting, and DOOM crashes in OPL mode (not that you'd ever want to use it). Since I have no capture hardware, I just recorded the sound of me playing DOOM for a while with GM, then trying to do so with OPL (and freezing the PC), them Duke Nukem theme song both in GM and in OPL mode. There are a bunch of missing notes when trying to play OPL tunes, which makes it ever crappier for Adlib games.
DOOM - GM.mp3
DOOM - FM.mp3
Duke3D - GM.mp3
Duke3D - FM.mp3

EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention. This board has legacy USB support, so both USB mice and keyboard will behave like their PS/2 alternatives. The only issue is that, in DOS, whenever there is a lot of mouse movement or key presses MIDI tracks will suffer some weird slow down. It works perfectly with PS/2 mice and keyboards.

One interesting thing, though, is that the MPU-401 interface (for external synths) seems to be separated from the audio core, and it is not even PnP (you have to choose the MPU port in the BIOS setup) and seems to not need the DOS sound drivers to be loaded, and that is very nice!

Wow... I can just say I'm having fun messing with this system. With an AGP card this could be a very nice mid-late Win98 gaming machine! I'm pondering which of these card is a better fit for this system: a Geforce4 MX4000, a Quadro 980XL or a Matrox G550.

Well, that is it. I just wanted to share my findings about this system. So, any thoughts, ideas or suggestions of things to try?

Last edited by alexanrs on 2015-11-13, 20:39. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 26, by mwdmeyer

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Hah I had that same case (different colour) with my Duron 800. It was the worst for heat due to the PSU sitting over the CPU fan!

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Reply 2 of 26, by Imperious

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My Abit board (listed in sig) originally had a Duron 650 that I overclocked to 900 with a TNT2 Pro AGP card. Later upgraded to a
Ti4200 and then it got relegated to spare computer when I bought a P4. The Duron was a bottleneck with the Ti4200.

A good match for the video would be a Gf4 mx440 or the mx4000 You mentioned. If You fit a Athlon then a Ti4200 would be
better. If I'd known back in the day I could fit an AMD Athlon Thoroughbred and Ati 9800xt I never would have bought the P4.

Maybe a sblive sound card as well for good (not perfect) Dos game compatibility.

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Reply 3 of 26, by oerk

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Nice system! It's interesting to see what you can do with the onboard components, I never would've thought those would be good for anything. Particulary integrated video of that time usually had barely working 3D capabilities.

Imperious wrote:

My Abit board (listed in sig) originally had a Duron 650 that I overclocked to 900 with a TNT2 Pro AGP card. Later upgraded to a
Ti4200 and then it got relegated to spare computer when I bought a P4. The Duron was a bottleneck with the Ti4200.

Ha! Mine was a Duron 700 overclocked to 1049 MHz on the KT7-RAID 🤣

Imperious wrote:

A good match for the video would be a Gf4 mx440 or the mx4000 You mentioned.

I agree. As I understand it, this computer is all about reliving the experience you had back then (I've been following your posts on the subject for a while). A GeForce MX would be fitting then. It's a good card 😀 Which one isn't really critical, since they don't differ that much, just don't get a crippled one like the MX200.

Reply 4 of 26, by alexanrs

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I edited the first post because I forgot to mention a little issue with USB mice+keyboards and the DOS sound drivers.

mwdmeyer wrote:

Hah I had that same case (different colour) with my Duron 800. It was the worst for heat due to the PSU sitting over the CPU fan!

I have a nice VCOM heatsink with a copper base that was popular here in Brazil due to being reasonably priced and a decent performer, being used back them by people building Athlon XP computers. It seems to keep my Duron cool enough. I'll eventually try to hunt a fitting PSU with a fan at the bottom and flip it to blow air on the processor.

oerk wrote:

Nice system! It's interesting to see what you can do with the onboard components, I never would've thought those would be good for anything. Particulary integrated video of that time usually had barely working 3D capabilities.

Thanks! I believe this chipset came right at the time onboard solutions started to actually work xD The SiS 630/730 graphics (SiS 305) is probably based on the same cores SiS was using for their discrete graphics cards. VIA was also using the Savage 4/2000 design they got when they bought S3.

oerk wrote:
Imperious wrote:

A good match for the video would be a Gf4 mx440 or the mx4000 You mentioned.

I agree. As I understand it, this computer is all about reliving the experience you had back then (I've been following your posts on the subject for a while). A GeForce MX would be fitting then. It's a good card 😀 Which one isn't really critical, since they don't differ that much, just don't get a crippled one like the MX200.

Only issue is my Quadro4 980 XGL has great output quality, but my MX 4000 does not. My Voodoo3 runs laps around it when it comes to signal quality. Also, it is slower than the MX440 AGP 8x I had, and cannot use the older drivers. What I'll probably do is put the MX there for now and hunt for a Quadro4 580 XGL: the same chip as the MX440 I had, but it is a Quadro, so the build and signal quality should be top notch.

Reply 5 of 26, by torindkflt

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Looks to be very similar to my first custom build with a SIS 730S chipset (ECS K7SEM with a Duron 1GHz and 256MB RAM). Probably the most intensive things I did with it back then were an N64 emulator and static image rendering in Bryce 3D. It was certainly slow compared to other systems of the day, but it was fine for me. I built it on a shoestring budget and was only wanting something better than my previous computer. :p

Reply 6 of 26, by lagonauta

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Sorry for digging this thread, but...

alexanrs, where did you get the driver for the SiS 7018 with legacy DOS support? The ones on SiS website seems to not have all needed files as after installing there is no SNDINIT.EXE and SNDTSR.EXE on C:\Windows\System. I installed the vxd and the legacy drivers using the instructions on the readme.

The system I am using is a Pentium III 750MHz (a Socket 370 Coppermine) on a unbranded (??) mobo with this chipset. Sadly there is no AGP, so I will need to settle with the integrated graphics for DOS gaming, or eventually buy an TNT.

Reply 7 of 26, by alexanrs

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Here you go: the folder that is missing in the installer package. Just extract the drivers, then extract this file in the same folder and run "SETUP.EXE -lg" in Windows to set it up... or just follow the procedures described in the DOS folder's README.TXT

Attachments

  • Filename
    DOS.rar
    File size
    166.59 KiB
    Downloads
    60 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 8 of 26, by lagonauta

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Thanks, it worked perfectly 😀
Sadly I just discovered that my SiS 630 does not support General MIDI under real mode DOS, even though it has the same SiS 7018 sound chip. Only SiS 730 supports this feature, so I will have to cope with bad AdLib emulation :s
Well, better than nothing 😉

Reply 9 of 26, by 133MHz

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I remember building a similar system back in the day for my sister, when she found out her hand-me-down K6-2 500 wasn't able to play 640x480 DivX-encoded videos at anything resembling motion video. I got a good deal on a PCChips M810, a 950MHz Duron and 128MB of SDRAM from some government surplus auction thing, I reused the case, PSU & drives she had along with the 128MB stick of RAM that was installed in the old mobo, she was pretty happy with the upgrade. I fixed many of these back then and they were pretty nice to work with, Windows 98 would fly and even 2K/XP (pre-SP3) ran well, quite stable too. Good UT99 matches were had over the house LAN.

XP SP3, the SDRAM price bubble and the ever increasing bloat of the web were what killed it after some good years of service.

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Reply 10 of 26, by Kamerat

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Your recordings of GM music actually sounds quite good. I have one Trident 4DWave-NX (the 7018 is based on 4DWave) card and the GM support is horrible, wrong instruments and hanging and dropping notes.

I also, like lagonauta, have a SiS 630 based motherboard and it also refuses to use GM. Must be the DOS driver that's programmed that way because it loads the sample bank anyway (I guess it's used for the OPL3 emulation). Somone here who have the skill to modify the driver?

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
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Reply 11 of 26, by alexanrs

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Kamerat: i had a number of issues with the GM emulation in DOS when using an USB keyboard+mouse combo, like music slowdowns and dropped notes. OPL3 emulation was affected even more than most GM tunes. I had to use PS/2 keyboard and mouse to get it working like that.

lagonauta: If you have an external module and a gameport->MIDI cable, you can use external synths with this board in DOS.

Reply 12 of 26, by Kamerat

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Tried an USB keyboard on my SiS 630ET system since I spilled beer in the PS/2 keyboard I used. One game, Pinball Fantasies, didn't like that at all. The game ran very slow and ended up crashing after about 30 secs. If it reached the main menu the graphics were glitched. It would have been fun if somone could modify SNDTSR.EXE to allow GM for 630 and larger sample banks, the largest for the 4DWave-DX are 6.6MB. SNDINIT.EXE have no problems loading large sample banks into memory, but SNDTSR.EXE refuses to use them complaining that they are too large. Sample banks 0-4 in TSSND.INI are named GM10MB.SAM, GM20MB.SAM, GM40MB.SAM, GM60MB.SAM and GM24KMB.SAM.

If you need more convetional memory and don't need OPL3 or GM it's possible to unload the TSR with SNDINIT.EXE /R. One little problem is that you have to manually set the sample rate using an utility called T4DW.EXE. The utility can be found in this archive: http://vsynchmame.mameworld.info/4dwave_dos.zip

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
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Reply 13 of 26, by alexanrs

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Kamerat wrote:

If you need more convetional memory and don't need OPL3 or GM it's possible to unload the TSR with SNDINIT.EXE /R. One little problem is that you have to manually set the sample rate using an utility called T4DW.EXE. The utility can be found in this archive: http://vsynchmame.mameworld.info/4dwave_dos.zip

This I did not know. What exactly do you mean by setting the sample rate? So for games that do not say the sample rate they use I'd have to guess between 11025, 22050 and 44100 until I find one that gets the rate right?

Reply 14 of 26, by Kamerat

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alexanrs wrote:
Kamerat wrote:

If you need more convetional memory and don't need OPL3 or GM it's possible to unload the TSR with SNDINIT.EXE /R. One little problem is that you have to manually set the sample rate using an utility called T4DW.EXE. The utility can be found in this archive: http://vsynchmame.mameworld.info/4dwave_dos.zip

This I did not know. What exactly do you mean by setting the sample rate? So for games that do not say the sample rate they use I'd have to guess between 11025, 22050 and 44100 until I find one that gets the rate right?

That's right, some games, like One Must Fall, uses 16000Hz. Pinball Fantasies in SB16 mode max quality uses 44100Hz. It's not very difficult to hear when you have the right rate. You can also use the utility to set the DSP Version of the card, just remember that the utility is case sensitive and uses lowercase letters for options.

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
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Reply 15 of 26, by Tetrium

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The PSU doesn't compete with the CPU cooling fan when it comes to from which direction they want to draw air from?

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Reply 16 of 26, by alexanrs

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That PSU does not have a second fan, just the rear outtake, or else they'd be creating vaccuum among themselves. I just bought another 5V heavy PSU with two 80mm fans, and I plan on reversing them to make it blow air into the PC.

Reply 17 of 26, by Kamerat

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Another little tip: If you want some better MIDI playback in Windows you can search for GM10MB.SAM in the registery and replace it with another sample bank. You can also set reverb and chorus from the same "folder".

This archive contains some more banks under \Audio\ALI\WaveTab: ftp://ftp.tekwind.co.jp/pub/asustw/misc/audio/aliaudio.zip

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
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Reply 18 of 26, by alexanrs

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I had done so already (but forgot to mention here - I believe that system is set to use GM60MB.SAM or GM24KMB.SAM). Too bad SNDTSR is useless when it comes to using anything other than GM10MB.SAM

Reply 19 of 26, by alexanrs

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Well, since the topic resurfaced anyway, I might as well ask it here (as it is about the same system). I have a new PSU with two fans - one on the back and one on the bottom. If I installed it in this case the bottom PSU fan and the CPU fan would compete for air and neither would do their job well... I had two ideas:

  1. Reverse the PSU fans, making it blow air into the computer
  2. Reverse the CPU fan, making it exhaust hot air from the heatsink

Which one of these is the better route?