View Full Version : Shadow ram with expanded memory problems...

April 25th, 2010, 10:02 AM
Please bear with me, as this is a pretty long post.

I'm trying to get my "new" 286@20mhz motherboard working with my expanded memory board, AST Rampage plus 286 (with 2megs of ram). The motherboard works great by itself, having 4megs of ram onboard. However, when I use the latest version or REMM.SYS (AST's expanded memory manager), I only get data errors messages, when the expanded memory is counted.

I have read that this motherboard has the Opti 82C206 chipset, which uses shadow ram scheming in the BIOS. Sure enough, in the BIOS there are options to turn off Shadow BIOS at different 16k intervals, starting with Video addresses, C000, and up to the BIOS addresses, FFFF. Only the Video and Bios shadowing has to be turned on, because the system will not boot normally otherwise, showing some kind of parity error and freezing (even though I do have the parity option turned off in the bios).

On top of that, there is an EMS option in the BIOS (different than with my AST board), which can either be turned on or off. This works in conjunction with the shadow ram, showing how much ems is available. With the video and bios shadows, you can supposedly get 272kb, but that will not translate to DOS when it boots, since I most likely need some memory manager (different than remm.sys), which I do not have, and could not get any results for this by searching the web.

I do not want that EMS option in the bios anyway, so I keep it turned off. However, there is a frame address page option right next to it, which is defaulted to E000, as well as the port address, which shows 02E8. These 2 options, can be changed, and I have done all possible combinations, in order to not have any conflicts with my real EMS board, but to no avail. I have even specified all the possible different addresses for the page frame with REMM.sys memory manager, starting from C400, all the way to E000, excluding addresses as well which seemed to conflict with the BIOS settings (using the /x=e000-e400, and so on). I know that my AST board is using the 208h port, which does not conflict with the one in the BIOS.

Also, I have tried to set up the software for my AST board, using the smart switch program (after changing the jumper pin on the board, to reset the settings), which I got from another link on this forum, but that does not work with my version of the AST Rampage Plus 286 (the manual also shows a different 2nd set of jumper configuration, so probably my hardware is a different version).

Since I cannot seem to turn off this Bios Shadowing and EMS addressing in the BIOS, I have run out of options. I'm sure I'm missing something, and of course I am hoping that someone on this forum might be knowledgeable enough to show me different possibilities, in order to make my EMS board work with this otherwise wonderful motherboard.

Thank you for your patience in reading this, and I would appreciate any input that you might have in order to solve this potentially frustrating problem.

April 25th, 2010, 01:47 PM
Just a quick research update:
I've read that the program QRAM version 2.02 by Quarterdeck might have hardware support for the Chips and Technologies (PCChips) BIOS chipset, which my motherboard apparently has, including shadowram and expanded memory management. The problem is, I cannot find a copy for purchase anywhere on the net, including Ebay. Do any of you have a copy of this program? I would be happy to buy it from you.

April 25th, 2010, 02:21 PM
Where are you located?

April 25th, 2010, 02:59 PM
pm sent.

April 25th, 2010, 03:07 PM
I do not want that EMS option in the bios anyway, so I keep it turned off.

Since I cannot seem to turn off this Bios Shadowing and EMS addressing in the BIOS,
So you are in the motherboard BIOS setup, and you turn off the EMS option, but the lines that show the EMS frame address and EMS base port are still active (or at least still visible). One sees that kind of general behavior in BIOS setups, and so if I was in your position, I would be very confident that the motherboard EMS is disabled.

Your AST Rampage Plus 286 might be faulty. One test: configure all of it's RAM as extended memory, addressed past the extended RAM provided by the motherboard, then run decent memory test software. If that passes, you then know that at least the RAM is good.

April 25th, 2010, 05:04 PM
Sorry, I failed to mention that I did test my AST Rampage board on my other 286 AT clone (at 8-10mhz, earlier BIOS without shadowing), and the REMM.SYS manager counted the memory correctly without errors. Also, I used Norton Utilities 8.0 to test my expanded memory from the AST board (on the same 286 AT), and it tested perfectly fine.

I know that the EMS page frame in the bios is supposed to be off, but the RAM Shadowing seems to be messing things up, somehow. Also, with EMS being off in the bios, when I change the page frame to, say D000, or C800, etc., the REMM.SYS manager sometimes reports either that there is no Expanded memory, or no EMS board is present. How can that make a difference, if the EMS is supposed to be turned off in bios?
I realize that this might not make sense, but perhaps there is no way for my EMS board to work with Shadow RAM, on that particular chipset?

April 25th, 2010, 05:10 PM
Speaking of configuring the AST board for extended memory, I forgot to add that I tried the installation software for a version of AST Rampage Plus 286, which I downloaded from a link on this forum. Unfortunately, neither the smart switch executable, nor the install program work at all with my version of the board. So, it only works with the REMM.SYS ,version 4.70 (latest version), on my other 286 AT clone.

Thanks for all your input.

April 25th, 2010, 05:31 PM
I realize that this might not make sense, but perhaps there is no way for my EMS board to work with Shadow RAM, on that particular chipset?
Possible. There are all kinds of incompatibilities 'out there'. For example, according to the AST bulletin below, the RampagePlus 286 is incompatible with Zenith 286 motherboards.



The RampagePlus/286 (both part numbers 202247-XXX and 202349-XXX) does not operate reliably when installed in Zenith 80286-based computer systems. Parity errors are generated by memory installed on the Rampage board, either at the time of system boot up, or during the running of an application.

This incompatibility exists as a result of the method by which the Zenith system performs memory addressing. The Zenith implementation of memory read/write cycles does not allow enough time for data from the Rampage memory to be stable, thus the parity errors.

Any hardware change made to the RampagePlus/286 to resolve this incompatibility would prevent the board from operating in AST, IBM or IBM-compatible systems. Therefore, Zenith should be contacted directly for a resolution.

April 25th, 2010, 06:02 PM
Very interesting. My AST board part no. is 202349-001.
I also do have an earlier version of an AST board, which is just the AST Rampage 286 (not the Plus), and this one is configured nicely by switches right on the board (no software setup, except the REMM.SYS manager for expanded memory). I plugged it in my 286@20mhz motherboard, and got the same exact results, although I did not configure it to use extended memory (which I should have done).

I'm only hoping that I can get an expanded memory driver to work for my motherboard EMS setup, since I cannot seemingly use my AST board. Otherwise, I'll be stuck with no expanded memory at all, which is ironic for a 286 computer.

April 25th, 2010, 07:18 PM
I'm only hoping that I can get an expanded memory driver to work for my motherboard EMS setup, since I cannot seemingly use my AST board. Otherwise, I'll be stuck with no expanded memory at all, which is ironic for a 286 computer.
I found what is described as a "VLSI LIM 4.0 DRIVER".
Produced by PC MAGAZINE in 1989.
It's name is VEMM.SYS and is in a ZIP file named 386_UTIL.ZIP (at http://members.dodo.com.au/~slappanel555/software/386_UTIL.ZIP)

The readme file is named VREAD.ME and contains "chipset". Unfortunately, no listing of supported chipsets.
Worth a shot perhaps?

April 25th, 2010, 07:39 PM
Sure, I'll try anything at this point.
Thanks for the link, and will report on how it works.

April 25th, 2010, 08:16 PM
Ok, I tried both memory managers included, VEMM.SYS and SEEMS.SYS. Neither one works. VEMM.sys thinks I have no expanded memory, and the other needs a 386 processor.
My last thought as of tonight is in getting a copy of Quarterdeck's QRAM 2.02, and hoping that the chip specific support will work in recognizing my motherboard's expanded memory.
I appreciate the help.

April 29th, 2010, 07:04 PM
Bringing off-list exchange back on-list:

Sounds like it's still not doing what you want with either the Qram 1.0 and 2.02 that I sent you. I gather you have a C&T chipset with shadow RAM available; you should definitely be able to use some of that memory as high (upper) memory.

What else are you trying to do? Do you have extended memory? What do you need the expanded memory for?

April 30th, 2010, 08:24 AM
Extended memory is not the problem, I do have 4megs on the motherboard. However, in the BIOS, the C&T chipset with shadow RAM, has an option to apply left over High Ram (from the 384k block), and/or convert unused extended to expanded memory.

However, that makes no difference when I boot to DOS, as it does not show the expanded memory configured in the bios, unless I have a compatible C&T memory manager, I assume. So if anyone knows of this elusive and specific memory manager for my chipset, which is P82C206, please let me know, as I could not find any results for a name in my internet search.

I could use the expanded memory for QRAM, and playing several games, including Ultima Savage Empire, and Wing Commander. These play at a perfect speed (for me) on this motherboard.

Thank you.

April 30th, 2010, 09:36 AM
I think you've been talking about at least two different boards and configurations which had me confused (easy to do at the best of times).

I think you're right, that even if the BIOS can present extended memory as expanded you'll still need a manager to use it.

I'm not sure what you mean by the BIOS option to 'apply' high RAM?

That is of course one of the main functions of qram (and QEXT), making the space between 640K and 1024K available for loading TSRs and drivers just like it is on the later MBs, and it should work for ya.

I'm also not clear on what you mean by using expanded memory for qram? AFAIK qram only uses expanded memory to emulate extended (EMS2EXT) or create UMBs if you don't have shadow RAM available (which you say you do).

But it's been a long time since I played with this and I had trouble understanding it then; the ambiguous terminology (e.g. high vs. upper, etc.) doesn't help either. Hopefully someone else has some useful tips for ya (other than "just move up to a 486" ;-) ).

April 30th, 2010, 10:41 AM
Sorry for the confusion. What I meant by saying "high ram", is the region between 640k-1024k being used for shadow ram features, such as Video and Bios shadowing, as well as this EMS option, which is memory "left-over" that can be used. Basically, in the bios, there are options to turn shadowing on and off for each 64k block, between C000 and FFFF addresses. Turning off the Video shadowing (C000-C400) results in a parity error when booting the system to DOS. However, there is more memory for EMS available and shown in the bios by turning off each segment of shadowing (>272k).

As far as QRAM, the software only can use expanded memory to emulate extended, or C&T chipset (which doesn't work for me). So that's a no go without a EMS manager.

This is confusing stuff for me too, but fascinating, nonetheless.

April 30th, 2010, 02:57 PM
Guys, I have a big update: I got the motherboard to work with my AST EMS board. Yay!!

I don't know why it works, but here is what I did:
I took out all 4 sticks of 1mb sipps from the motherboard. I have read that you can use an alternate setup of memory, using dips of 256k on the motherboard, but only up to 1meg.
I happen to have 4 dips of 44256 (256k x 4bits), and 2 dips of 41256 (256 x 1) for parity. That makes 512k memory. I booted up and went in the BIOS, turning off all the shadow ram for video and bios settings. I figured, since I don't have extended memory at this point, the shadow ram wouldn't be forced on the system (hopefully). Well, it turns out that I could boot to DOS normally then, without getting the weird parity and video errors that were happening before, when I tried the same settings, but having the 4mb ram onboard.

Since that went without a hitch, I then went back to taking out the dips and putting in my sipp memory, 4 megs total. The settings stayed the same in the bios, changing only the available base and extended memory settings. Then, I booted to DOS without a problem, after which I configured the remm.sys expanded memory manager in config.sys. After booting one last time, the memory on the AST board counted normally and beautifully, all the way to 2 megs. I tested all the memory with Norton Utilities 8.0, and got no errors.

So, it looks like mission accomplished. Quite unbelievable, if you ask me.
Now I hope it stays that way, but at least I know what to do if something like this happens again.
Thanks for all the help, guys, I learn stuff everyday from this forum, and this encouragement brought me to experiment in this way.

April 30th, 2010, 03:58 PM
So with 4MB on board it didn't work, you went from 4MB to 512K and it worked, and when you went back to 4MB it still worked? Odd...

So now you've got 3MB extended and 2MB expanded?

April 30th, 2010, 04:23 PM
Yes, that is correct. However, another smaller problem popped up. I have 2 settings of the CPU speed in the bios, the "turbo" speed of 20mhz and the "normal" speed of 10mhz. It's funny, but having it at the normal speed allows the expanded memory manager to count the ram correctly to 2 megs and without errors (as it has been configured before putting back the sipp memory). But, when I change the cpu bios setting to turbo (or pressing the turbo button on the case), the expanded ram manager starts countly briefly, before I get a parity error message on the screen. So, the problem seems to be different, at least. But, at least I know that my ram board works at the lower cpu speed, so at least I've got something to work with.

Is the CPU speed of 20mhz too fast for my AST board, perhaps? I've got 80ns ram on the AST board, compared to 70ns sipp ram on the board.
Any thoughts?

April 30th, 2010, 10:04 PM
Is the CPU speed of 20mhz too fast for my AST board, perhaps?
Could be. All kinds of incompatibilities out there. Per the following bulletin, early versions of the AST Rampage AT card worked okay in 6 MHz versions of the IBM AT (motherboard type 1 and type 2), but had problems in the 8 MHz IBM AT (motherboard type 2).



It has been determined that the original version of the AST Rampage AT board will not operate consistently in the IBM Model 339 AT (8 Mhz clock speed). This condition has been verified by AST Research.

What may happen with this board installed in the Model 339 AT is that either the REMM.SYS program will not recognize any Rampage AT memory, or "Parity errors" will be generated when attempting to address the memory.

These boards can be identified by their revision level. This number can be found on the back (solder side) of the board, etched along the edge of the board that is opposite the mounting
bracket. Any board with one of the following numbers should be considered suspect:

202079 - 301 -A, -B, or -C
202079 - 302 -A

These customers should contact AST Research to have their Rampage AT exchanged for a later revision.

If the revision level is the following (or above) the board will operate in the Model 339 AT:

202079 - 302 -C

May 1st, 2010, 05:57 AM
Thank you for that update, modem7.
It's interesting to see that, because I tried my AST card with my 386@40mhz computer, and it works fine. Either the bus speed could be different, or the wait states differ in ways I can't imagine. Funny that there are no jumpers on my 286 motherboard for changing the wait states, so who knows?