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pauls640
October 10th, 2013, 06:01 AM
Hello everyone,

I have this old ISA card sitting in my shelves for years now, and no idea how to make it work, despite my noble efforts :). The difficult thing is, the marks on the card don't help much, at least for me :(. In fact, this thing is unknown to the entire world, if you google it, you find a post of another guy asking for info, and nobody answered.

As you can see, the only thing written on it is "Parity ram card", plus some id numbers, like "W5 500". The card comes from 1987, it has four banks of 18 chips each, and a dip switch on the right.

My thought is that it might be an expansion card for an OEM PC, probably Olivetti, since it has quite a number of memory onboard and there are no marks on it except part numbers. Maybe belongs to a M290?

Obviously, the card doesnt work on its own, but the IC's heat up when running on a PC, so it's probably working. It's very well preserved, no oxidation etc, looks new.

Do you have any idea to id the card?

Needless to say, my goal or mission impossible (depens on how you see it :D) is to make it work on a 286 system undergoing restoration.

15546

Trixter
October 10th, 2013, 08:11 AM
We're going to need much better photos to try to ID the card. Some close-ups of the front and back where there is visible lettering would help.

pauls640
October 10th, 2013, 10:07 AM
Sure,

here are some closeups, I'm also writing down all I can see on the card:

On the far left, next to a bar code the following chars : "W5 500 013397"

15547

On the left, below bank 0: 6450343 A38431X 7777 PAINTED in white:

15548

Next to it, "Parity ram card"

15549

A general view of the IC's on the right, written in white paint '3487'

15551

On the back, hope is visibile, anyway: VA-HL 94-V0 P/N 6480183 297.

15550

Then, always on the back, but on far right, two letters, 'E.T.'

Hope this helps.

RJBJR
October 10th, 2013, 11:20 AM
The 6450343 is the same number as the 512k - 2048k memory expansion for 5162 & 5170 from IBM.
That same number cross-references to 59x7294

The 6480183 seems IBM-like for a part number, many parts for the 5170 have a part number that starts with 648.

Can't locate a picture or jumper info of the IBM part number 6450343 or 59x7294.

Chuck(G)
October 10th, 2013, 11:27 AM
If you've got the Techref, you might compare the IC numbers on the card with those in the schematic.

pauls640
October 10th, 2013, 11:32 AM
Man, I can't believe it, I think you got it:

http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/5170/cards/5170_cards.htm

Is this it?

Trixter
October 10th, 2013, 12:01 PM
Modem7 to the rescue, yet again. That's it, and the reference appears to be http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/oa/OA%20-%20IBM%20PC%20AT%20512KB_2MB%20Memory%20Expansion% 20Option.pdf

However, this is more useful: http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/5170/cards/5170_memory_board_512K_2048K_switches.htm

pauls640
October 10th, 2013, 12:15 PM
Right, the p/n is slightly different, but the layout in the pdf and the dip switch are there!! Well done!! :D

But... what now? the dip switch sets the starting address of the card, what does that mean? That means if I have 4MB of Ram onboard, I set the switch at 4? Then the pc automagically counts the extra Ram at boot?

I tried configuring the dipsw on a 386 test box I've got. This box has 4MB of onboard ram, so I set the card at 4. Nothing happens apparently, BUT as in techref, Cmos byte 31 shows 1101, so 13.:confused:

This thing needs a driver to work?

RJBJR
October 10th, 2013, 12:29 PM
This thing needs a driver to work?

If it needs a driver it will probably have been provided in IBM PC-DOS, they were sneaky like that.

Addendum: possibly XMA2EMS.SYS

pauls640
October 10th, 2013, 12:33 PM
I have an original copy of PC-DOS, it's version 5.02, though. Probably it's too new to work. I'll check the docs.

pearce_jj
October 10th, 2013, 12:58 PM
Here (http://www.lo-tech.co.uk/downloads/drivers/XMA2EMS.SYS.zip) (hope that helps - no idea what version it is!).

pauls640
October 10th, 2013, 01:19 PM
Here (http://www.lo-tech.co.uk/downloads/drivers/XMA2EMS.SYS.zip) (hope that helps - no idea what version it is!).

Thank you, looking around, xma2ems.sys should be the one to read xma memory from the board, but I tried to boot up, and it says 'cannot find adapter'

Can someone explain the dip switch thing? I bet I did not configure it right. I have configured it at 4mb, because my onboard ram is 4mb. Is this correct? And besides, can this card work on a 386?

Stone
October 10th, 2013, 02:53 PM
Can someone explain the dip switch thing? I bet I did not configure it right. I have configured it at 4mb, because my onboard ram is 4mb. Is this correct?It might depend on how that 4 MB is configured. Is it contiguous through 4 MB or is there a hole between 640 KB and 1 MB? Some boards give an option on this. A simple test of this would be to configure the card to start at 4 MB plus 384 KB instead of 4 MB and see if that makes a difference.

RJBJR
October 10th, 2013, 04:02 PM
This may be the issue, taken from the PDF (http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/oa/OA%20-%20IBM%20PC%20AT%20512KB_2MB%20Memory%20Expansion% 20Option.pdf) Trickster referenced in Post #7


The address of the first expansion memory option must start at
address space hex 100000. If additional memory expansion
options or IBM Personal Computer AT 512KB Memory Module
Kits are installed, no gaps between memory are allowed. All
expansion memory must be one contiguous block starting at
address hex 100000.

Seems very specific where the initial starting address must be.

Stone
October 10th, 2013, 04:54 PM
So, according to that PDF, this board which was specifically designed for the IBM AT can only be used in a machine that has 1 MB of onboard memory.

modem7
October 10th, 2013, 08:36 PM
So, according to that PDF, this board which was specifically designed for the IBM AT can only be used in a machine that has 1 MB of onboard memory.
The IBM document has to be be put into context. IBM produced this RAM card for the later model IBM ATs, not for AT clones. IBM expects only IBM harware. In a late model IBM AT, IBM is expecting you to fit only this particular IBM RAM card (one or more of them) to get extended memory.

So, knowing that, then IBM's view is that the first of these cards must start at address 1 MB, because in IBM's view, no other type of RAM card would be in the AT providing extented memory.

modem7
October 10th, 2013, 08:38 PM
This particular card provides 2 MB of memory, which can only be used as extended memory.
Extended memory starts at the 1 MB address mark and must be contiguous (i.e. no gaps).

Examples:
* If your AT presently has no extended memory, then this card would be configured to start at the 1 MB address mark.
* If your AT already has 2 MB of extended memory (which would occupy memory between the 1 MB mark and the 3 MB mark), then this card would be configured to start at the 3 MB address mark.

Your 386 has 4 MB of RAM. With 4 MB of motherboard RAM on a 386, I would be expecting 3 MB of that to be configured in the BIOS SETUP as extended memory, in which case, the IBM memory board would be configured to start at the address of the end of the existing extended memory (at address of 4 MB). But maybe your 4 MB of motherboard RAM is configured in a non-standard way.

No driver is required for the motherboard itself to recognise the RAM on the IBM card. Once all (BIOS SETUP plus RAM card switches) has been configured properly, I would expect you to see the memory count at power on time reaching 6 MB.


And besides, can this card work on a 386?
The RAM on the IBM card is probably speed rated at 150 ns. Read your 386 motherboard manual to see what it has on the subject of RAM speed.

pauls640
October 11th, 2013, 02:36 AM
Thank you all. To make things simple, I installed the board on my 286 box going restoration. It has 1MB onboard, makin 640 base + 384k extended (machine counts this at boot).

Following these instructions,

http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/5170/cards/5170_memory_board_512K_2048K_switches.htm

I configured the dipsw to 1mb, so 'on on on off on', but ram is not seen at boot. The MoBo(wd286-wdm20) has a Phoenix BIOS, that lets you specify manually the amount of RAM, so I set 640k base + 2432K Ext.

When machine boots with PC-Dos, only the first 384k are recognized by himem.sys, whereas xma2ems.sys still says it cant find adapter... but Msd reports correctly 2432k of ext memory, probably because it just reads it from bios...

Do you think my dipsw configuration is wrong?

modem7
October 11th, 2013, 02:02 PM
If your 286 had 384 KB of extended memory to start with, then the IBM RAM card needs to be configured to start at the end of that existing extended memory, i.e. at the 1408 KB address (1024 + 384).

But it sounds like something more fundamental is going on. Maybe the IBM RAM card is faulty. Switch settings is another possibility. We have seen a few people set switches to on when in fact they were setting them off, and vice versa (see [here (http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/5150_5160/misc/5150_5160_on_versus_off.htm)]).

Unfortunately, I do not have the subject RAM card. Otherwise I would have put it into one of my clone AT machines (286/386) just to verify what I've written.


but Msd reports correctly 2432k of ext memory, probably because it just reads it from bios...
Probably.

pauls640
October 14th, 2013, 02:16 AM
I tried an extended memory test through PC-check, interestingly when checking the starting address of the card (100000 in this case or 160000), it throws an error.

I think that this software actually "talks" to the card, because after throwing an error, it goes on checking the rest of the memory (set in the Bios), and this test goes slower than the onboard RAM.

If you remove the card, BUT keep the memory size unchanged, the test goes faster and without errors (dont know why it does not complain, anyway)

So I believe something is working out, but I'm missing something from the picture.. :confused:

yuhong
October 14th, 2013, 05:03 PM
Thank you all. To make things simple, I installed the board on my 286 box going restoration. It has 1MB onboard, makin 640 base + 384k extended (machine counts this at boot).

Following these instructions,

http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/5170/cards/5170_memory_board_512K_2048K_switches.htm

I configured the dipsw to 1mb, so 'on on on off on', but ram is not seen at boot. The MoBo(wd286-wdm20) has a Phoenix BIOS, that lets you specify manually the amount of RAM, so I set 640k base + 2432K Ext.

When machine boots with PC-Dos, only the first 384k are recognized by himem.sys, whereas xma2ems.sys still says it cant find adapter... but Msd reports correctly 2432k of ext memory, probably because it just reads it from bios...

Do you think my dipsw configuration is wrong?

This is not XMA memory, and 2432K extended memory total is wrong, because the card is set at 1MB starting address. It should be 2048k extended memory total. Since the card only allow the address to be set at 512K boundaries, the 1MB starting address is your best option.

Stone
October 14th, 2013, 05:34 PM
The MoBo(wd286-wdm20) has a Phoenix BIOS, that lets you specify manually the amount of RAM, so I set 640k base + 2432K Ext. This specified amount of RAM is *only* the RAM on the motherboard, and that does *not* include any on an expansion card.

pauls640
October 15th, 2013, 11:40 PM
Ok, I fixed my errors in sizing matters (thanks stone and yuhong), here's where we stand: the pc boots normally with only onboard ram (640k+384k), the ram card is not seen at boot. Himem.sys only loads the 384k, nothing else. :(

Assuming no driver is required for the system to detect the card (as Ray says), I think the card might be faulty :(

I'll try to test some components on the card, there are only a couple capacitors and resistors, the rest is IC's.

What could I do as a last resort? Maybe reseating some ram chips? Or populate half or less ram on the card?

modem7
October 16th, 2013, 12:42 AM
As yuhong pointed out, your IBM RAM card can only start at an address that is a multiple of 512 KB. So, you will need to disable the 384 KB of extended memory that you have, configure the IBM RAM card to start at 1 MB (the start of extended memory space), and then 'inform' your BIOS that the machine has 2 MB of extended RAM fitted.

My view is that with the BIOS and RAM card suitably configured, at power on, your 286 should be counting up to the total amount of RAM (motherboard + RAM card). If it is not, then there is no point in going any farther (e.g. loading a memory manager for the extended memory).

pauls640
October 16th, 2013, 02:12 AM
As yuhong pointed out, your IBM RAM card can only start at an address that is a multiple of 512 KB. So, you will need to disable the 384 KB of extended memory that you have, configure the IBM RAM card to start at 1 MB (the start of extended memory space), and then 'inform' your BIOS that the machine has 2 MB of extended RAM fitted.

My view is that with the BIOS and RAM card suitably configured, at power on, your 286 should be counting up to the total amount of RAM (motherboard + RAM card). If it is not, then there is no point in going any farther (e.g. loading a memory manager for the extended memory).

I'm sorry for this question, but I'm no expert: how do I disable the onboard 384k? The bios has no such option: only the amount of ext memory, plus shadowing and memory remap.

Thanks,

Paul

modem7
October 16th, 2013, 03:13 AM
how do I disable the onboard 384k?
You indicated earlier that the 384k appears as extended memory. If it is in fact appearing as extended memory, the question is instead, "How do I stop the 384K appearing as extended memory."


The bios has no such option: only the amount of ext memory, plus shadowing and memory remap.
Whilst there are some generalisations, each BIOS does things in its own way. You'll have to experiment.

'Memory remap' sounds like a likely candidate.

With all of 384K presently appearing as extended memory, the BIOS doesn't have any memory available for shadowing. Maybe once you turn on BIOS shadowing, the BIOS will use all of the 384K for itself (rather than reducing extended memory by the amount of shadow RAM).

Stone
October 16th, 2013, 03:45 AM
I have that WD board -- it was my first computer. Turn off memory remapping into extended and enable shadowing. Then the board will only have 640k available.

pauls640
October 16th, 2013, 04:21 AM
I understand: we allocate this memory as shadow AND turn off the remap to extended, so there is no memory hole, and the onboard and card memory don't overlap.

Thank guys, let's see what happens.