After covering the 8514/A and its clones, it’s only appropriate to write a few words about the XGA (eXtended Graphics Array), IBM’s final attempt at establishing a PC graphics hardware standard.
The XGA was introduced on October 30, 1990, about the same time when several other companies just started selling their own 8514/A clones. The XGA was a combination and superset of VGA and 8514/A: VGA compatible, high-resolution, accelerated graphics chip. Initially, an XGA chip was built into the new PS/2 Model 90 and 90 XP, and also available as a stand-alone upgrade for existing PS/2 systems in the form of the “IBM PS/2 XGA Display Adapter/A” (a typical IBM product name). The initial price was $1,095 for an XGA with 512KB VRAM and additional $350 for a memory upgrade to 1MB VRAM.
The previous article about the IBM 8514/A graphics accelerator and clones did not mention S3′s chips because S3-based graphics cards were never 8514/A compatible, unlike the ATI Mach 8 and Mach 32 chips and others. However, the relationship between S3 chips and 8514/A is a bit more complex.
S3 Inc. (later known as S3 Graphics) was founded in 1989 and in mid-1991 it released the S3 911, the first single-chip SuperVGA GUI accelerator (the 911 designation was a reference to the Porsche 911). This was soon followed by S3 924, 928, the S3 Vision family (864/964/868/968), and finally by the extremely successful S3 Trio integrated GUI accelerators (Trio32, Trio64, Trio64V+). The 3D-capable S3 ViRGE and Savage chips never reached the popularity of their 2D-only predecessors.
On April 2, 1987, when IBM rolled out the PS/2 line of personal computers, one of the hardware announcements was the VGA display chip, a standard that has lasted for 25 years and counting. While the VGA was an incremental improvement over its predecessor EGA (1984) and remained backwards compatible with the EGA as well as the earlier (1981) CGA and MDA, an entirely new display adapter was also introduced: The IBM 8514/A. The 8514/A was the first fixed-function graphics accelerator for PCs with support of 1024×768 resolution and up to 256 colors. Continue reading
Because there can never be enough Dualatins, I obtained a Supermicro P3TDDE board. This is one of the relatively few boards which support dual Socket 370 Pentium III processors (including Tualatins) and at the same time sport an AGP 4x slot. This is not the Ultimate Museum PC as it lacks ISA slots, but it’s a nice board.
Such boards were relatively rare because by the time the Tualatins were released (2001), Intel was busy pushing Pentium 4s onto every desktop. On the other hand, there were numerous Tualatin-based server boards because the Tualatin (especially the Pentium III-S variant) had significantly better performance per Watt. Server boards typically had onboard graphics (often a Rage XL chip) and no AGP slots. Continue reading
The Ultimate Museum PC (UMPC) is a dual Slot 1 based system. Fast Slot 1 based Pentium III processors turned out to be extremely difficult to find (especially at non-ridiculous prices like $200 per CPU). The current 850MHz processors are good, but not ultimate.
Luckily there are slockets (or slotkets) which convert a Socket 370 processor into a Slot 1 one. For historical reasons, Intel’s Pentium III lineup was a bit schizophrenic. To understand the reasons, one must go back to the Pentium Pro (1995) which packed the processor core and between 256KB and 1MB of L2 cache onto a single “dual cavity” PGA or PPGA package. This approach proved less than ideal as the processors were very difficult to manufacture. Continue reading
In a previous post, I wrote that a Radeon 9800 XT can’t be used with a 440BX chipset because it’s based on a R360 chip, newer than the R350 used in Radeon 9800 Pros. The reality turns out to be a little more complicated.
For reasons that I won’t go into now, I had to remove the heatsink/fan assembly from a normal-looking Radeon 9800 Pro, a card manufactured by Sapphire sometime at the very end of 2004 or the very beginning of 2005 (given that the PCB indicated week 52 of 2004):
While researching the Ultimate Museum PC it was hard to avoid the Tualatin, the final 0.13-micron incarnation of the Pentium III. With speeds up to 1.4GHz and 512KB on-chip L2 cache, a pair of PIII-S Tualatins should provide decent oomph. There’s just one problem—there doesn’t seem to be any Intel chipset which would support dual Tualatin processors.
Motherboards with dual Tualatin support do exist, but nearly all of them have either ServerWorks or VIA chipsets. While it is possible to run a Tualatin with an Intel 440BX/GX chipset, this requires an adapter or a modified processor. The 440BX/GX chipset is (in theory) fundamentally incompatible with Tualatin processors due to a difference in signaling voltage levels (AGTL vs. AGTL+).
Ironically, Intel itself sold server boards (SDS2, SAI2) with dual Tualatin support… boards built around chipsets from ServerWorks (the ServerSet III). This inevitably led to a few conspiracy theories. Continue reading
A quick update on the Ultimate Museum PC (should it be called simply the UMPC?). The system is currently using a Supermicro P6DBE board with 2x Pentium 850MHz (Coppermine, 100MHz FSB) processors, 1GB RAM, a 120GB IDE disk, an ATAPI DVD-ROM drive, a SoundBlaster AWE32 PnP, a 3Com 100Mbps Ethernet controller. The graphics question has not been entirely settled yet; see below for more.
The system has been very stable so far. Perhaps unsurprisingly—nothing is overclocked and all components are on the higher end of the quality spectrum (if a decade-plus old). The disk was moved from the older BP6-based system and already contained DOS, OS/2, and Windows XP. Continue reading
While researching the history of Microsoft’s segmented-executable linker originally called LINK4.EXE, I came across an OS/2 executable that was publicly released almost a year before the first OS/2 SDK was shipped, and many months before OS/2 was even announced. In fact the executable was likely released before the name “OS/2” even existed.
The file is EXEHDR.EXE, dated June 11, 1986 (size 32,896 bytes). It was shipped in the Microsoft Windows 1.03 SDK and then again unchanged in the Windows 1.04 SDK. For reference, OS/2 was announced on April 2, 1987 and the first OS/2 SDK was shipped around May 1987. Continue reading
(Note: This is a guest post from Tenox)
Enter 1988… around that time Microsoft just released MS-DOS 4.01 and IBM shipped OS/2 1.1. Compare to the others, this OS was years ahead of its time pretty much on every aspect. Now some 25 years later QNX2 is still found running industrial machinery, clean rooms, avionics and military hardware. Some people report systems up and running non stop for 15 years and longer!
It took me similar amount of time to find and acquire a usable media set. QNX2 never seen life on a desktop machine, so finding these was rather hard and expensive adventure. Fortunately I can finally let it see some daylight. Let’s examine how the system will install on a modern hardware under VMware Workstation.