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Thread: Programs/games that make good use of EMS 3.2 hardware on an XT?

  1. #1
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    Default Programs/games that make good use of EMS 3.2 hardware on an XT?

    I know there have been threads in the past about how to use EMS on XTs to free up more DOS memory, etc, but that's not my boggle here. Long story short, for something to do I've built an experimental EMS card that's driver compatible with the Lo-Tech 2MB (hardware implementation is muchly different), which is effectively an EMS 3.2 compatible device on a hardware level. IE, no shuffling pages outside of the standard 64k EMS page frame, etc. Therefore I know all the really cool tricks like multitasking with Deskview, etc, aren't happening. So...

    I'm actually finding myself at a loss as to what I can use to exercise the EMS hardware. It passes an extended CheckIt3 RAM test, but the one piece of software I had installed that I *thought* could use EMS (Timework's Publish-It) can't. (I have really dim memories that it could, but it's been a looong time and maybe it was a newer version.) Does anyone have a short list of programs that can actually leverage EMS 3.2 effectively to do... something cool?, on an XT-class computer? (Lotus 1-2-3 probably doesn't count.)

    Another limitation is I'm restricted to CGA/Tandy graphics, no VGA.
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    Lotus 1-2-3 2.x runs find on a XT class machine and is the defining software for EMS 3.2 data usage. There were a number of disk caches like Microsoft's Smartdrv that used EMS. Don't forget EMS for a RAM disk, probably the best use with most older applications. 4DOS would swap to EMS. If the EMS hardware supports several megabytes, running multiple well behaved programs was possible with Desqview. There might be other task swapping applications that used EMS. Some of the versions of Borland Sidekick made use of EMS.

    Nothing really cool there but high speed disk access along with multi-tasking might be impressive enough.

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    My vague understanding is at least some Windows 2.x applications have EMS support, I suppose I could slap that on there. Anyone know off the top of their head if GeoWorks leverages EMS? (And starting from what version?) Maybe this is my excuse to install WordPerfect 5.1, although I'm a little worried it needs a 286? (I *do* have a V20, maybe that's enough.)

    I only have one megabyte to play with, I was limited to a postcard-sized board and had to fit a *lot* of other stuff on it, so it really is sort of for LOLs. (Basically I wanted *something* to use up extra outputs on my I/O decoder GALs, an EMS page flipper seemed like an interesting choice.) It does seem to work with ramdrive.sys so I guess if nothing else I have my new TEMP directory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by krebizfan View Post
    high speed disk access
    Hah! I just ran disktest.exe on my ramdisk.sys RAM drive and it scores almost identically to my XT-CF-Lite-based SD storage interface. I guess ~500k/s is what this machine can do even straight to RAM.
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    Yes, Windows 2.x can make use of EMS memory. I installed a BocaRAM EMS board into my main IBM 5150 recently specifically for Windows 2.

    I say give Windows 2 a try.
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    Just FYI....I seemingly remember that Geoworks 1.x/2.x did use EMS, but its been quite a while since I've used it on such a system...

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    Doesn't Microsoft LANMAN also use EMS? I recall that it does.

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    To test your EMS 3.2 board for functionality, use these programs: ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/misc/Soft...ls/testems.zip

    To test your EMS 3.2 board for usefullness, here are some programs that show legit enhancement if using EMS:

    Geoworks Ensemble (and Ensemble Pro)
    Desqview (you can still run programs concurrently, they'll just be slower than if you had EEMS 3.2 or EMS 4.0)
    Lotus 1-2-3 (The "L" in "LIM"), although it might be difficult to find a worksheet large enough to really push 640k
    Turbo Pascal 7 (the IDE can use it, freeing up memory for compiling, faster linking, and less swapping in the editor)
    Lightning (disk cache) can use at least 1MB EMS 3.2; might be able to use more but haven't tested it
    Microsoft Word for DOS (the "M" in "LIM"). No Microsoft docs or advertisements mention that it uses EMS that I could find, but I was able to prove that, version 5.0 at least, definitely uses EMS.

    To test your EMS board for failure, here are some programs that require real LIM EMS 4.0 and lock up (or worse, like silently fail/corrupt) if you run them on a lower standard:

    4DOS (or NDOS if you have Norton Utils 6)
    Norton Cache
    Norton Cache 2
    Offering a bounty for:
    - A working Sanyo MBC-775, Olivetti M24, or Logabax 1600
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by compaqportableplus View Post
    Yes, Windows 2.x can make use of EMS memory. I installed a BocaRAM EMS board into my main IBM 5150 recently specifically for Windows 2.

    I say give Windows 2 a try.
    I'd be tempted to try that if I could find API documentation for writing Windows 2.x programs.

    At present, I only use Windows 2.x to play Flip-It.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    To test your EMS board for failure, here are some programs that require real LIM EMS 4.0 and lock up (or worse, like silently fail/corrupt) if you run them on a lower standard:
    Wow. Do these wet the bed only if you run them on a hardware LIM/EMS 3.2 card that fakes 4.0 specific things with the driver, or will they do bad things even if the driver is only claims to be 3.2?

    I ask because I noticed the ltemm.sys driver has a "/3" switch that limits it to 3.2 compatibility. Run that way it consumes about 3k less RAM so I'm wondering exactly what the downside would be using that switch given the limits of the hardware.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

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