VOGONS


First post, by p6889k

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As I'm learning about the various limitations of motherboard's BIOS to support HDDs of certain size, I often see the advice of: "use IDE controller with its own bios", "use network card with its own bios and load XT-IDE on it", "use IDE controller with XT-IDE".

I'm not sure I understand this fully and would appreciate some feedback to my questions:

1) I see one can purchase XT-IDE ISA controller card with IDE 40pin connector. I assume this is just like a SCSI controller in the aspect that it takes control over IDE devices connected to it. Now, lets say I have a 386 motherboard whose BIOS doesn't have any boot settings where I can pick SCSI. Would I just configure the motherboard bios with no HDD and then when the computer boots the XT-IDE would have its own configuration in which I would configure the attached devices and their boot priority?

2) How does one load XT-IDE bios onto network card? How do I know if network card has a bios? Is there a specific model I should be looking for?

3) Do I need any drivers for Windows (3.11, 9x, etc) with any of these XT-IDE devices, just like I would if I was using SCSI controller?

4) Besides XT-IDE, are there any other ISA or PCI IDE controllers that have their own BIOS? How can I tell which controller card does and which doesn't have it? Are there any common models I should look for on eBay or perhaps even new models?

Thank you.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, 48k+, 128k, +2
Amiga 1200, 68030/40mhz
386DX/33, 486DX/33, PPro/200, Dual PPro/200, P4/3.4ghz
etc.

Reply 1 of 6, by SirNickity

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I don't have any experience with XT-IDE in particular, but from what I know:

1) It should appear like a normal AT IDE interface, so any BIOS that supports option ROMs and does not conflict with the port and IRQ assignments used by the XT-IDE should work. (I would assume this means disabling the on-board IDE, if applicable -- not just setting it to "no hard drive".) The BIOS often refers to "C:" meaning the first enumerated fixed disk, and the XT-IDE will assume that role.

2) Network cards of the ISA era, and some PCI cards, would have a standard ROM / EEPROM socket. You can remove any existing BIOS ROM it may have had (if any -- they were often unpopulated) and install any ROM / EEPROM / flash you want, as long as it fits and uses the same standard pinout. The card isn't really doing anything special, it's just tying that socket to the bus at a given address. So what the BIOS does -- be it support for network boot or some totally unrelated thing, like XT-IDE -- doesn't really have any impact on the card's functionality or view of the world. Ergo, network cards just happen to be a useful donor of EEPROM / flash sockets tied to the motherboard address space where option ROMs are found. 3Com 509 and 905 cards are good examples, but there are many others.

3) No. DOS uses BIOS calls (provided by XT-IDE), Win 3.x uses BIOS calls and built-in 32-bit disk drivers intended for standard IDE controllers. Win9x uses standard ATA drivers as well. SCSI is different, in that there was never a de facto single standard controller interface that all other interfaces cloned.

4) Plenty. Promise made RAID cards that were very popular. Adaptec made some, I believe. 3Ware had some fancy, high-end RAID cards. There did exist some plain (non-RAID) controllers with an on-board BIOS, usually to overcome the 500MB barrier on older boards... or the 2GB barrier.. etc.. But they're more rare. Typically, you'll find RAID cards with BIOSes, since otherwise the BIOS is completely unnecessary. RAID cards need to appear like SCSI devices, and then do their on-board trickery. Plain IDE controllers just respond to standard I/O addresses and the motherboard BIOS does the rest.

Reply 2 of 6, by zyga64

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I think you don't need XT-IDE controller for XT-IDE BIOS. It will use your existing one (onboard or on multi-io card).

1) VLSI SCAMP /286@20 /4MB /TVGA9000C /CMI8330
2) i420EX /486DX33 /16MB /Trio64V+ /AZT2316
3) i430HX /P233MMX /64MB /VirgeDX+3DFX /YMF701
4) i440BX /P II 400 /256MB /FX5500/AWE64
5) i865G /E5800 /2GB /Ti4200 /YMF724

Reply 3 of 6, by p6889k

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So I have ISA 3COM 3C509B-C and PCI 3COM 3C905B-TX. Both cards have an EEPROM socket. Do i need to buy a specific chip - which one, or is just about physically fitting into the socket? How would I load BIOS onto that chip? What equipment would I need to flash it, do I need some sort of standalone flashing HW or can I flash through DOS?

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, 48k+, 128k, +2
Amiga 1200, 68030/40mhz
386DX/33, 486DX/33, PPro/200, Dual PPro/200, P4/3.4ghz
etc.

Reply 4 of 6, by SirNickity

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Your best bet is to buy a pre-flashed ROM, and some indication that it's compatible with the 509/905's socket. (That's a common donor card, AFAIK, so it should be easy to confirm compatibility.) Otherwise you're going down the rabbit hole of flash programmers, which are typically USB-connected boxes with ZIF-sockets for DIP ICs. You will have to find out the ROM size of the XT-IDE image, then either hunt down a recommended part number, or figure out how to interpret common part numbers to match up size and speed requirements. It's not super difficult, but unless you have any intention of doing it twice, you're better off just getting a pre-programmed chip. I've never looked, but I'm sure they're not hard to come by as a kit.

Reply 5 of 6, by zyga64

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You may try to use Realtek 8139 PCI network card for flashing. There is program called rtflash.

===========================================================================
Usage: rtflash [command]/filename

Valid Commands:
-s: save flash contains to file
-v: verify contains of flash with filename
-l: list the flash that have test by this program
filename is the ROM code that you want to program to flash.

===========================================================================

Realtek Flash Utility Ver 1.5
(20000520) (C) Copyright, 2000 Realtek Semiconductor Co., LTD.


IOBASE=1000H IRQ= CH
Flash Device :Unknow Manufacturer ID=00
Device Code=00

Following Flash have test

ATMEL:
AT29C512 AT29C010
AT49LV512 AT49001NT

SST:
SST39LV512 SST39SF512
SST39VF010
==========================================================================

However I didn't tried it personally and can't guarantee it supports every NIC based on this chip 😀

1) VLSI SCAMP /286@20 /4MB /TVGA9000C /CMI8330
2) i420EX /486DX33 /16MB /Trio64V+ /AZT2316
3) i430HX /P233MMX /64MB /VirgeDX+3DFX /YMF701
4) i440BX /P II 400 /256MB /FX5500/AWE64
5) i865G /E5800 /2GB /Ti4200 /YMF724

Reply 6 of 6, by Lylat1an

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I use a Promise Ultra 133 TX2 controller in my Super Socket 7 build. (The motherboard's integrated IDE controller chip is slower than I'd like, so I only use it for my optical drive)

The card isn't RAID-capable but still has its own drive detection screen.

New ones are still available on Ebay, as are used ones.

After the card's drive detection screen disappears, my motherboard goes through its normal boot sequence using the Promise card for the hard drive.

Also, the card doesn't need any drivers in DOS 6.22, it just works. Promise's site does have drivers available for Windows all the way through Vista on its website.

Another feature I love about the card is that you can connect your case's HDD activity LED to it. 😉