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Thread: XTIDE Universal BIOS v2.0.0 beta testing thread

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    I'm sorry for being "late to the party" and sounding like a noob here but.... is this some kind of generic system bios that will work on.. any 486/386 system?

    I do notice that my 486 (which has VLB Ports) does not run any faster with a VLB controller than it does with a 16-bit ISA controller, and seems to only support 1 IDE channel in bios, regardless of what the controller supports.

    I do have the VLB software / drivers for my VLB IDE controller for my 486, but when ever I load them in ms-dos 6.22, it causes the system to hang and freeze, so I can't even use em even if I wanted to.

    Does this XTIDE replace my system bios in my 486 with better support?
    Can I flash it into my 486 system even though I haven't the faintest idea who made the motherboard?
    What is the risk of "bricking" my 486 and causing it to be unusable?

  2. #22
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    The best thing to start with is to compare your motherboard with the pictures on TH99. If you can identify it that way, it might be a great help.

    A photo can't hurt, either.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by kithylin View Post
    is this some kind of generic system bios that will work on.. any 486/386 system?
    No, XTIDE Universal BIOS is not system BIOS. It is extension to the system BIOS. BIOS on the motherboard will detect any additional BIOSes that expansion cards might have. XTIDE Universal BIOS will work on any ISA/VLB/PCI system. You must disable IDE support from motherboard BIOS to avoid conflicts or configure XTIDE Universal BIOS so that it uses other controllers than the main BIOS.

    I do notice that my 486 (which has VLB Ports) does not run any faster with a VLB controller than it does with a 16-bit ISA controller, and seems to only support 1 IDE channel in bios, regardless of what the controller supports. Does this XTIDE replace my system bios in my 486 with better support?
    Yes, but the v2.0.0 beta 1 does not include the support for QDI Vision VLB controllers if you have one (you'll have to wait beta 2). You might not get any better transfer rates at the moment but you will get support for up to 4 IDE controllers and support for large drives (MS-DOS 7/Win9x or FreeDOS is required to access more than 8.4 GB).

    Can I flash it into my 486 system even though I haven't the faintest idea who made the motherboard?
    What is the risk of "bricking" my 486 and causing it to be unusable?
    You cannot flash it that easily. You'll need an expansion card where to place the ROM. The most easiest way would be to get one of the XTIDE cards (don't connect a drive to it unless you use it on XT) since you can flash the EEPROM easily.

    Another way is to place the ROM on a network controller card (I recommend 3Com). There are also some VLB multi I/O cards with ROM socket. I have one but it requires two additional support chips so network cards are easier. Note that you cannot flash the BIOS when using NIC or I/O card (you can flash it on the XTIDE and then move the EEPROM to the NIC or you need to use external EPROM writer).

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpidersWeb View Post
    I too would like a simpler startup (maybe hold CTRL for boot detection details and menu?).
    I have considered showing the boot menu only when some key is pressed. The problem is that there is not enough bytes left in the 8k ROM to implement it. Some helpful string with the key to press would alone require many bytes. Then some code is required to capture the keypress during drive detection. We have decided to remove standard IDE-support from XT builds so that might free enough bytes for the XT build but I don't like to remove XTIDE support from AT build (and it would save less bytes anyway). I'll see what can be done.

    Product name and copyright is all good, even a "Auto-detecting drives...." just looks odd scanning 4 channels and referencing their hex addresses and 99% of the time I just want to boot off the first primary.
    You can use XTIDECFG.COM to disable the controllers you don't need. I think I'll change the default settings so that only Primary and Secondary IDE ports are enabled by default.

  5. #25

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    Hi aitotat, not that it's the core market as it were, but I have 32k available for ROM in my compact-flash card

    If having somewhere to put the BIOS as a plugin card is something of value, we could easily produce some 8-bit ISA cards with just an SST flash on them, DIP if you like, would be very small and cheap if no ISA bracket was required. Just a ROM, comparitor, DIP switch and a couple of caps.

  6. #26

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    Hi
    I think we already have such a card. Just build the XT-IDE V2 and leave everything other than the ROM BIOS circuit as Do-Not-Populate. No bracket necessary.

    Thanks and have a nice day!

    Andrew Lynch

  7. #27
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    I went digging through some of my old EPROMs and discovered a 32Kb (4Kx8 bits) Western Digital BIOS ROM (probably for the WD-XTGEN) that includes the LLF routine (the chip has G=C800:5 printed on the chip, not on a paper label). A peek into the ROM shows room left over.

    I guess I'm wondering why a 2864 (8Kx8 bit) EEPROM is barely adequate to the task on an XTIDE. I'm not trying to make trouble; I'm just curious as to why so much space is used.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    I'm just curious as to why so much space is used.
    Serial port support takes over 800 bytes and EBIOS functions (to access more than 8.4 GB) take over 300 bytes. I'd estimate that boot menu requires maybe 2000 bytes (menu libraries alone require more than 1400 bytes). Display libraries (to print formatted strings) require nearly 1200 bytes. That leaves about 4k for drive detection and initialization + INT 13h functions.

  9. #29

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    Interesting. For my purposes I'd prefer to have auto-v20 detection, longer loop unrolling and so on, but I guess the serial-line stuff necessitates the menu/display stuff. In my case my ROM is big enough to do the lot I would hope.

    Re the little ROM board, yes the XT-IDEv2 does that of course; I was thinking of something smaller and (much) cheaper though, either as a home-brew or a short run perhaps if it were SMT. I guess there probably isn't much call for it though.

    But anyway, the 8-bit controller "fast" writes code works perfectly it seems, if it's at all possible to include that in the general availability releases?

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by pearce_jj View Post
    But anyway, the 8-bit controller "fast" writes code works perfectly it seems, if it's at all possible to include that in the general availability releases?
    Nice that these 8-bit controllers get faster. The "Fast XTIDE" will certainly be supported in future public releases.

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