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C̶y̶r̶i̶x̶ ̶I̶I̶I̶ Coppermine-T Socket 370 build log (malarkey ensues)

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by BuuBox, Apr 27, 2020.

  1. BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    As a Super Socket 7 aficionado, I find the range of CPUs available for the socket most interesting, with a large range of non-Intel CPUs including the AMD K5 and K6 series of CPUs, the IDT WinChip, the Rise mP6, and of course the Cyrix Range of 6x86, 6x86MX and MII CPUs.

    As Socket 370 replaced Socket 7, this more or less fell to the wayside - but VIA did release Socket 370 CPUs. This started with what would become the VIA C3 core branded as a Cyrix III (VIA had purchased Cyrix in 1999).

    A brief history

    As an aside, there was a 'real' Cyrix III developed with a core derived from an evolution of the the Cyrix MII CPUs (with PR ratings and all). You can see this from the original media release, dated February 22, 2000 for the 'Joshua' core CPUs. These were never released to market.
    The 'Samuel' core was based on a IDT WinChip design, which VIA had also purchased in 1999. The media released dated June 6, 2000 hinted at the change in direction.
    The focus shifted to the power consumption benefits over the Intel competition thanks to the IDT design. For example, the 550 MHz Cyrix III CPU I'm using in this build has a power consumption of 14 watts. For comparison, a Pentium MMX 233 MHz has a power consumption of 22 watts. This allows me to use a basic Socket 7 CPU cooler rather than anything more elaborate.

    The parts

    I've wanted to put together a Socket 370 Cyrix III system for quite some time, but it has taken years to get the components sorted. Motherboards with specific Cyrix III support are quite difficult to find, although I suspect a number of boards with VIA chipsets would support the CPUs (despite documentation hinting otherwise).

    I purchased a Cyrix III 550 MHz CPU back in 2016 from a eBay seller based in Greece. Allegedly it had been sourced from a computer that once resided in a Japanese primary school, but who knows to the authenticity of that rather specific story. :lol:

    Since then, I've been looking on and off for a suitable motherboard. Luckily a Gigabyte GA-6VXC7-4X-P motherboard was recently listed on eBay in as new condition, which specifically lists Cyrix III support. This is based on the VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset (or VT82C694X). It arrived safely and looked unused.

    The rest of the parts are thankfully less specific, with a standard AGP 4x slot and SD-RAM.
     
  2. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Testing

    As I mentioned, I managed to get what looks to be an as new Gigabyte GA-6VXC7-4X-P motherboard with only minimal use off eBay. It's ideal for my build, with an AGP 4x slot, 1 ISA slot, 5 PCI slots and no onboard audio. It's great that Gigabyte still maintain support pages for these old boards.

    IMG_20200428_155009.jpg

    The only slight dampener is that it turns out Cyrix support was optional for this board (see screenshots from the user manual). Luckily, it appears to only be necessary for 133MHz FSB CPUs despite the caveat, with my CPU operating at the correct speed and voltage (550MHz on a 100MHz FSB with a 5.5x multiplier, 1.9 volts).

    123.png

    IMG_20200426_092620.jpg

    I recently purchased this "bitcoin case", which I'm using as a very cheap test bench. Works quite well.

    IMG_20200426_092810.jpg

    The remaining parts are fairly basic, with 256MB of SpecTek PC133 SDRAM (running at 100MHz CL2), a Sound Blaster 16 Value CT2770 in the ISA slot for sound at least the time being, a Voodoo 3 3000 covering graphics duties, and a Western Digital WD400 40GB IDE HDD for storage (with 20GB platters, amazing in 2001).

    IMG_20200428_155035.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2020
  3. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Bring it on, I loves me some Cyrix :thumbup:
     
  4. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    awesome, can't wait. wouldn't mind knowing a bit more of the history around Cyrix aswell, mine own Cyrix adventure started with a self bought Cyrix 586 (aka Pentium1) from Wanchai, Hong Kong, while i was over there on a holiday. (i can't off the top of my head remember the speed, but i still have the chip back in Sydney, in my CPU draw.) I can't remember the ins and outs, but they were awesome bang for buck.

    looking on with anticipation. :)
     
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  5. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Updated with some more details. :)

    I put this in a build log for some extra motivation and so it doesn't get lost in the consolidated threads. Pretty much where it's up to now, just waiting for a nice era specific ATX case to put it in. Will do some testing and benchmarking in the meantime, and may try out a ESS Solo1 PCI sound card instead of the old SB16. I've gone so far as to install Windows 98SE and try out Quake 2. Not one crash so far... :Paranoid:

    In the mean time, enjoy this photo of a boxed Cyrix III CPU I'm never opening - just about the only NOS thing I've purchased which is staying that way.

    Click to view full size!
     
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  6. cbjaust

    cbjaust Member

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    Apparently they will overclock a bit as well. Hopefully you put up some overclocked numbers ;)
     
  7. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Will definitely try some overclocking. :leet: 40% overclock is doing pretty well, looking at your link. Might need to sort out a better CPU cooler first.

    I just remembered this review from 2001, not exactly glowing performance wise so the extra MHz would certainly help! http://www.dansdata.com/c3.htm
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
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  8. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    A couple of minor updates for a gloomy weekend.

    I swapped out the old SB16 for a ESS Solo1 based PCI card. I feel the non-PNP SB16 is more at home in a DOS/Win 3.11 486 or Socket 7 build. I may switch back to an ISA card at some point though (hopefully an AWE64 value).

    IMG_20200509_094252 (2).jpg

    The ESS works really well. Good DOS support, a clean sounding output and no driver issues. Just had to swap a few resources around for better DOS compatibility.

    The other was switching to a PS2 mouse rather than relying on USB in Windows 98SE.

    IMG_20200509_094418.jpg

    I bought this NOS off eBay recently. It's only a passable mouse, but at $18.50 for two posted, still decent. :D
     
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  9. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Some more configuration changes before the case arrives for this. :)

    The first is the video card. The Voodoo 3 never really suited this configuration and seemed a bit of a waste with the Cyrix.

    I switched to an ASUS V8170/128M, yes a dirty Geforce4 MX440. It seems a generation or two ahead as it was released about 18 months after the Cyrix (February 2002 vs June 2000). But the lowly Geforce4 MX440 is really just a slightly improved Geforce2, which was released in early 2000. Cheap and cheerful suits this build so in it goes.

    As a comparison, the trusty Timedemo in Quake 2 went from around 43fps with the Voodoo 3 to 53fps with the Geforce4 MX440 (both at 1024*768).

    IMG_20200514_142724.jpg

    I also picked up a cheap untested AWE64 value (thanks to badmofo for posting the eBay link) which appears to be in good condition and works well. However, sometimes Windows 98 has no sound with the error "BIOS cannot allocate resources". The card is always detected, so decided to try a BIOS update (still relatively risky in this era). Upgraded from FA to FC but unfortunately no release notes. Thankfully it all went well, and seems to have resolved that issue at least so far.

    IMG_20200514_142810.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2020
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  10. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    So the AWE64 woes were not resolved with the BIOS update or a full driver install.

    The DOS mode error was...
    Bad Resource Data Checksum (VendorID D2980000) Expected=66 Actual=64
    Bad Resource Data Checksum (VendorID e4008c0e) Expected=66 Actual=64
    ...which gave me something to search for.

    I was thinking it must be faulty hardware (despite the card having no real physical damage), but it could be Vogons to the rescue with this thread and a link to a Dell firmware update.
    https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=39683
    https://www.dell.com/support/driver/en-is/DriversDetails?driverId=r19293
    Nice of Dell to keep hosting it, some 20 years later!

    The card updated and still works, so fingers crossed. Oddly it would work after a few reboots, so will only really know after a cold start.
     
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  11. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    I hope it comes good, damn old rigs! If not then I have a 'Goldfinch' here if you want it - those interesting little AWE standalone cards that you can pair with whatever sound card you like. Actually that's not correct, some sound cards just refuse to play nicely with them, but a lot do and you can get the best of both worlds - AWE + Soundfonts (in Win9x) + the sound card of your choosing.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    As much as I'd love a Goldfinch card to try, the Dell EEprom tool looks to have resolved the issue. :) Card working fine this morning from a cold boot.

    Build would be too easy without a roadblock or two. Entertaining albeit time consuming putting together snippets of information from old forum posts with a lot of dead links.
     
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  13. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    You're right that's half the fun! I've found that the harder I have to work on a thing the more attachment I feel to the end result - good thing for the kids :lol:
     
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  14. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    What do you think of the sound? I always found them rock solid cards, but never enjoyed the actual sound they made. Just sounded a bit tinny, which was a shame as they were stable and always worked.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    I don't mind the sound from the ESS Solo1, but I'm pretty easy to please tbh. From my ears, the only way I'd really tell the difference from say a real SB16 is doing a direct comparison.

    Back in the day, my go to ISA sound card was a Audician 32 Plus (Yamaha YMF718-S) as it was $30~ new from swap meets. :D So I guess that's my reference point.
     
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  16. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Couple of minor things to report.

    I bought a NOS Aopen QF50C from eBay for this build which arrived recently, just need to tidy up a couple more things before I commit to installing it all.

    I dug out a NOS ESS Solo1 soundcard I bought back in 2018 that unfortunately had a terrible quality output (seriously over amplified).
    Oddly it works well in this setup. I'm not sure I can explain why... But the output is perfectly acceptable. :confused: I potentially installed drivers from the CD it came with when testing back then, but here I used generic drivers from Phil's website.

    IMG_20200526_091444.jpg

    I think I'll stick with one of the ESS cards rather than the AWE64. It seems to be more compatible (oddly!) and just works, especially when it comes to Windows 98 DOS mode. Potentially from issues with the VIA chipset and how it deals with ISA slots, but VIA DDMA works very well with the ESS card.

    Cellsplicer posted a Vogons thread on PCI sound cards, which is handy reading: https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=24769
     
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  17. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Had a quiet Saturday morning to get this together in the NOS Aopen case. :)

    The case seems to be from 2004 or so.
    IMG_20200530_110626.jpg

    Always nicer using parts that aren't full of dust!
    IMG_20200530_110754.jpg

    It came with a 350W PSU - I'm running the gauntlet and using it despite sitting in a warehouse for 15 years give or take. Its -5 volt rail could be handy for future builds.
    IMG_20200530_111457.jpg

    Went together pretty easily, with a few typical 00s case design snags. I added a network card to make file transfers easier (thanks slavewone!) and a Pioneer DVR-107D (purely as it's beige).
    IMG_20200530_133628.jpg

    Here it is in action.
    IMG_20200530_133612.jpg

    Really nice having a stable, complete Windows 98SE machine. Currently playing Quake, although it is showing up the FPU speed of the CPU design (I think the FPU runs at half speed). May need to switch to a Pentium III... Lets see if it comes to that. :D
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  18. Mistikal

    Mistikal Member

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    Similar board to the machine I've just dug out, same chipset I believe. I haven't even looked for drivers for 98 yet, any issues?

    Clean and mean build too, I like it a lot.
     
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  19. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Looks great - a late 90's Windows 98 machine is where it's at for me; plays most DOS stuff / VESA era DOS games run smoothly / easy to have both ISA and PCI sound going at once / early 3D.

    I bought one of those cases too when they were doing the rounds, they have a certain charm :D
     
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  20. OP
    OP
    BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Thanks! I just installed version 4.33 of the VIA 4-in-1 Drivers, straight from the Gigabyte support website for this motherboard.
    It is surprisingly compatible. Had some time again this morning:

    GL Quake runs well, at least at 640x480. Haven't tried any other resolutions yet. The DOS version of Quake runs a little slowly at 640x480 unfortunately.
    IMG_20200531_094241.jpg

    Chex Quest works well in DOS, no issues with sound effects or music.
    IMG_20200531_093231.jpg

    Tried out Jill of the Jungle, also no issues with sound.
    IMG_20200531_092122.jpg

    Had a look through the Epic catalogue included with Jill of the Jungle.
    IMG_20200531_092339.jpg

    Australian prices.
    IMG_20200531_092445.jpg

    Epic on the internet!
    IMG_20200531_092309.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
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