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Thread: 386 and Quake III Arena

  1. #1

    Default 386 and Quake III Arena

    Hey! Lately I've been doing tests to see if a 386DX-40 could possibly run some really out of it's purpose software and games.
    First of all, I have tested Quake II and the result was quite surprising - you could even actually (but painfully) play it.

    https://youtu.be/HWj2HT_BxdI

    And then I have decided to took a step further and tried to launch Quake III Arena. As we all know, it even required a 3D accelerator card to launch. After some weeks of try and fails I got the result:

    https://youtu.be/DlxlOtupnUc

  2. #2
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    I remember back in 97 or 98 i had a spare 386 sx 16mhz that i used as a backup pc at work. I tried getting warcraft orcs and humans to run on it... It did but it was soo slow. So i dont know what you expect from a 40mhz. Werent there 386 to 486 or even pentium accellerators?

  3. #3

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    Yeah, slow it is. It rendered a demo file that lasts two minutes in a three days. The point was to get 64megs of RAM installed to a 386, the platform that typically had 4 megs at it's best. Also it was nice that I could get OpenGL emulated by SciTech GLDirect utility. Never thought this could be actually possible to launch Q3A on ISA video card

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    There were dozens of companies that made 386 to 486 upgrades, as well as Cyrix making the Cx486SLC (drop in replacement for 386SX) and the Cx486DLC (386DX replacement) which were sort of a bastardized hybrid cross between a 386 and 486.

    Some weird upgrades allowed you to run an Am5x86-133 @ 160 MHz on a 386 board:

    https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?t=53096

    The Pentium Overdrive (POD63 or 83) wouldn't work mechanically because it uses the later 237/8 pin Socket 2/3 interface, while most all 486 interposers used the older Socket 1 169 pin interface. I'd imagine a bunch of glue logic would be needed if such a design was implemented. But it's pretty nonsensical for such a design to exist to begin with, even slower 486 CPUs on a 386 board are heavily bottlenecked by the multiplexed bus and extremely slow memory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Viktor_de View Post
    Hey! Lately I've been doing tests to see if a 386DX-40 could possibly run some really out of it's purpose software and games.
    First of all, I have tested Quake II and the result was quite surprising - you could even actually (but painfully) play it.
    Was this a patched version of Quake II? Original quake required a Pentium for an instruction that escapes me (probably RDTSC) so I'm curious how it's running without support for that instruction.
    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)

  6. #6

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    No, both Quakes are not patched. Quake 2 is a 3.20 version, Quake 3 is a version 1.11. Quake 3 said something about CPU being "pre-Pentium" during launch, but that was just informative.

  7. #7

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    Wow! That is a fantastic upgrade for a 386 board Never heard of it, thanks for the info! My next goal is to do something weird with a Pentium Pro board, but the lack of MMX and SSE could bring me in some trouble. We will see.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    Was this a patched version of Quake II? Original quake required a Pentium for an instruction that escapes me (probably RDTSC) so I'm curious how it's running without support for that instruction.
    The original retail release of Quake does not require a Pentium to run. The reason that the game states it requires a Pentium to run is because it was designed to take advantage of the new pipelined FPU in the Pentium, which was more than 80% faster than its 486 predecessor. Quake uses the FPU to do perspective correction, which is why the textures don't warp when the player looks around, something common on other 3D games at the time. Quake will run on a 386 with a 387, or a 486DX, but not at all playable. The fastest Am5x86-133 overclocked to 160 MHz is just about playable at the lowest 320x200 resolution, but the more open areas will be painful.

    Affine mapping was used extensively on console games at the time because they lacked the grunt to do it in software on the CPU. The original PlayStation is a perfect example, very few games had proper perspective correction because the main CPU was far too slow to do it without heavy optimization and lots of tricks. The video hardware also had no Z buffer, making it that much more difficult.

    It'd be interesting to see how well Quake would run on a Cyrix 5x86, since it's a hybrid between a 486 and Pentium class CPU, being a cut down version of the Cyrix 6x86.

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    Haha, I love projects like this. Nice job!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    Was this a patched version of Quake II? Original quake required a Pentium for an instruction that escapes me (probably RDTSC) so I'm curious how it's running without support for that instruction.
    I ran the original Quake on a 486dx2-66 with 8 megs of ram. Despite comments I've read here I found it quite playable. Mind you, it was more playable once I got a Pentium system, but I suspect that was because it had an AGP slot into which I added a Voodoo 3 3000.

    ...Still have that card...

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