Red Falcon's Retrocomputing Thread!

Discussion in 'All non-AMD/Intel CPUs' started by Red Falcon, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

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    Well, I'll be! Those A500 cases got funded on the very last day! I'll let you all know when my Vampire SE case comes in.


    In other news, here's what's happened since my last post here:

    -The Power Mac 9600 continues to be a very finicky machine. It turns out that half the reason for its instability was what I call "insidiously bad RAM", the sort that can somehow pass POST only to give you silent data corruption hell after the fact. Out of frustration, I moved the DIMMs around so it was running non-interleaved, and it wouldn't chime. Not even a Chime of Death, it just turned on and did nothing. Turns out one of the presumed-working DIMMs seems to be bad enough that it fails to let the system POST in non-interleaved mode, leaving me with only 192 MB of confirmed good RAM for this thing. Ouch.

    But if that wasn't bad enough, I tried something else: limiting it to 128 MB with known good DIMMs in interleaved mode. It was still unstable. It seems like I have to eat the performance penalty of non-interleaved RAM for reliability's sake.

    Also, because I unsoldered the cache-enable resistor jumper, I could change the G3 upgrade's cache to write-back instead of write-through, which improves performance noticeably in benchmarks. Still need to test whether it works out in practice.

    -I also dug up this little CompactFlash to IDE adapter I had lying around, with a 4 GB microdrive that I had pulled from an iPod mini that I upgraded to flash storage. Adding this on either IDE channel on the Tempo Trio causes the usual hang on startup. Yes, even the primary one that I normally have the DVD drive connected to. It's quite annoying, to say the least, since I was hoping to use it for an additional OS boot volume, but it really feels like this system wants either SCSI or SATA, not plain ol' IDE/PATA.

    -The Amiga 2000's still out of commission, even a month later. I ordered one of those CPU slot adapters meant for fitting a Vampire 500 V2+ accelerator board, which I still intend on doing later, but putting the 68000 into that still makes the system act like it's braindead, as if it's still not seeing the CPU at all. (Yes, I took note of the proper orientations!) And no, I still don't have a proper desoldering gun for removing the CPU socket... it's kind of frustrating, really, knowing this system could easily be repaired, but not having the tools (or the money for said tools) to do so.

    -The other MDD G4 I hauled from VCF initially only recognized 768 MB out of 1.25 GB that I had installed, but moving the DIMMs around a bit caused everything to show up fine. Funny how that works.

    I also dropped a typical Radeon 9000 into it, since it's cheap and OS 9-compatible. Yes, the ideal way to go for OS X (Leopard especially) would be a later card with Core Image, but I'm restoring this system with OS 9.2.2 as the priority, being one of the fastest systems that can natively boot it, and want to keep costs down.

    I just need to recap the PSU (Samsung) and replace a blown fuse. Looks easier to work on than the AcBel one that my dual 1.42 GHz MDD used to run on. Hopefully, that'll get it working again without forcing me to take more drastic measures regarding ATX PSU mods.

    -I plopped a new battery into my iBook G4 1.42 GHz. Had to reset the PMU in order to coax it into charging, but sure enough, it actually holds a good charge! I just need to think about what I'd use it for, and whether or not I feel like taking the time to tear down the entire thing just to replace the old HDD with a SSD.

    -Back to the 9600 for a bit: I was initially dismayed with its performance in Unreal Tournament being tons worse than the iMac G3 350 slot-loader, despite both running on G3s with a Rage 128 GPU. It seemed like there was more to this than just the iMac having double the bus speed (100 MHz vs. 50 MHz) and SDRAM being interleaved at the DIMM level by default, so I double-checked the renderer and realized I had it running in OpenGL the whole time rather than RAVE! A quick switch later, and it runs about as well as the iMac now, albeit with an awfully banded/16-bit look on a GPU known for having a negligible performance penalty to run in 32-bit color.

    Mind you, I wouldn't consider UT'99 performance on either machine acceptable by modern standards; it's well below constant 60 FPS. Best to break out one of the MDDs and boot OS 9 on it (the OS X port doesn't support music for some reason, which I consider unacceptable due to how much I love UMX tracker music in general), which are powerful enough to run it without a hitch (lining up with my impression that first-gen Unreal Engine really wants CPUs in the 1 to 1.5 GHz range, x86 and PowerPC alike), or just do the sensible thing and run it on any ol' modern PC with D3D10/11 and OpenAL.
     
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  2. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Oh dang, I don't know how I missed this post until now. :confused:
    That's pretty cool that those cases got funded, and I know a few people who will be interested in them in the future - quite nice to finally get a replacement for aging plastic on the originals.

    That's too bad about the memory being so far gone, though I've had other systems in the past that would pass the POST memory tests and yet would later lockup due to the bad memory IC(s).
    How frustrating, but at least for a system of that age, the 9600 will still be quite capable with 128MB, though it would be nice to get 256MB+ on it, so I hear you on that.

    Does it just take standard 168-pin SDR SDRAM PC66/PC100?
    Been a while since I last looked at one of those.

    Nice work on getting the G3 cache enabled with write-back - I didn't even know you could do that on those, how exciting! (y)
    Hopefully that Amiga 2000 will start working for you soon, it really was quite the find.

    I miss systems that could run Mac OS 9.2.2 - those were the days.
    Even my Quadra 950 only goes up to Mac OS 8.1, and it originally started with System 7.

    Eh, I'm not sure a SSD would help the iBook G4 too much since the main limitation/bottleneck, even with a far newer HDD or SSD, is definitely the CPU.
    But, if you are [H]ard like I know you are, you will do it! ;)

    16-bit color, wow, that really takes me back, and I remember having to run games in that instead or 24-bit or 32-bit color due to the performance penalties of them at the time.
    Crazy to think how trivial that is these days with modern equipment.

    I also didn't know about the RAVE! API, I will have to look into that one, thanks for mentioning it.
    Nah, if I were in your shoes, I would get it working on the MDD with OS 9.2.2, even if the fps aren't at 60 or above - sometimes the original experience is the best, even if it isn't the best looking.

    Thanks for the updates, I look forward to hearing more on your progress, and if you have a chance, please share some pics or videos of your setups, I would really like to see them!
     
  3. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

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    I forgot to check back in here, been busy, but hoo boy, do I have a lot to tell you:

    -The thing about the Power Mac 9600 and most other Macs from the pre-G3 era is that they don't take SDRAM DIMMS, and they don't take 72-pin SIMMs, either. They run on 70ns FPM or 60ns EDO DIMMs, preferably the latter, and both are generally unheard of in the IBM PC-compatible world. Apparently, it's more of a Mac/Sun/SGI thing.

    Max density on those is 128 MB per DIMM, though those get stupid expensive. 64 MB DIMMs are easier on the wallet, though twelve of those only totals up to 768 MB instead of the max 1.5 GB that the 9500/9600 can take. Then again, I don't really see the point of going beyond about 512 MB on a Classic Mac OS setup, unless you really wanted to have a huge RAM disk on it and still leave plenty of room for your apps to breathe.

    -The MDD has no problem manhandling UT'99 at a practically constant 60 FPS and above under OS 9.2.2, so long as you give it a decent GPU. The Radeon 9200/9250 is a noticeable step up from the Radeon 7000 when you start cranking up the resolution a bit to 1024x768 or more; the Radeon 8500/9100 may do even better than that, but PCI 9100s are rare beasts and 8500s are AGP-only, which makes their use undesirable in a system that I intend to dual-boot OS X Leopard on. (Leopard loves Core Image-compatible GPUs, to say the least.)

    You also wouldn't have known about QuickDraw 3D RAVE, since it's basically the Mac OS equivalent of Direct3D: proprietary to the OS. The difference is that Microsoft didn't deprecate D3D in short order and push for OpenGL as the standard API instead, which is basically what happened to RAVE.

    So on Classic Mac OS, you have RAVE, you have OpenGL, and you also have - get this - 3dfx Glide! Seriously, you can just toss in a PCI Voodoo1 or Voodoo2 without even having to flash it, and it'll work once you toss the extensions into your System Folder. Voodoo3/4/5 do require flashing, though, but that's because they're also 2D cards. I just didn't really feel like tossing a Voodoo2 into my 9600 just yet if a Rage 128 would give me roughly the same performance, but cripes, that color banding in UT'99 RAVE just looks godawful.

    Maybe I should pull the Radeon 9250 from my main MDD instead and try that for the heck of it - if the driver extensions will function properly on OS 9.1 instead of OS 9.2.2, anyway. I don't want to risk losing stable FireWire all over again, as it's so much better than USB 1.1 for file transfers to and from external drives.

    -I didn't get much progress made on my A2000 besides removing the CPU socket so I can inspect the corroded traces and vias in that area better... but that's because I got sidetracked by a total gold mine of vintage Amiga hardware from a guy I met up with recently.

    He's loaded, to say the least, and I'm cleaning, testing, and fixing up his hardware. So far, that's amounted to one A2000 that I've fixed up (battery leakage instead dripped toward an IC handling the mouse/joystick ports and killed some crucial traces/vias), one A500 that I'm currently cleaning off and is in remarkably good shape otherwise, and - get this - an A4000 that I pulled the battery from before the corrosion got too bad, then removed the leaky SMD caps with some hot tweezers I finally managed to locate at the local Micro Center and have some replacement capacitors on order from Digi-Key.

    I've gotta wait a few days for those capacitors, but I'm hoping to sort out that A4000's tendency to yellow-screen and not mount floppy disks reliably after the recap job's done. Even after it's finished, I still have two more A4000s, an A1200 and a CD32 to look into, at least going by what he's told me he owns. I figure I should recap all those too, before any electrolyte leakage kills them in much the same way the Varta NiCd barrel batteries do.

    There's also an A2500 in need of cleaning (lots of black gunk around the expansion slots somehow, though the battery remarkably hasn't leaked corrosive alkaline base all over the board), a CDTV with keyboard and a Chip RAM upgrade, and a storage area full of Commodore RGB monitors (at least two 1080s confirmed working and a Magnavox-branded 1084S with lots more in store), alongside a keyboard with NMB Hi-Tek/"Space Invaders" keyswitches, a Power Macintosh 7100 or 7200 (forgot which it was), and an indigo slot-loader iMac G3 with FireWire ports, a clear indicator that it's not a gimped 350 MHz model like mine was.

    So yeah, if you want an Amiga and maybe a monitor to match, I could get you in touch with this guy. Maybe he'll cut you a better deal than the utterly ridiculous prices I'm seeing on eBay these days, like the Picasso IV RTG card that sold for over $600 recently! Yeah, seriously, people would pay near GTX 1080 Ti money for an old big box Amiga graphics card like that, whereas the same amount could also net an A500 with a Vampire 500 V2+ accelerator, which gives you a wicked fast 68080 core and RTG over HDMI, amongst other things.
     
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  4. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Retrocomputing & Gaming Room - Updated for 2018

    1851a7f9216800a57a28f0a5b787761d-dcgomcg.png

    Here is part of the retrocomputing and gaming room, which has been updated for 2018!
    Laserdiscs, video game consoles, plushes and posters, oh my! :D

    I have to say, at the bottom-left in the middle image, the original XBox was a mod job originally done by SeattleXbox on Etsy, is of absolute superb quality.
    The guy is a total professional, and while this can technically be done by others, the HDD has an activity LED, the clear ghost case was perfect quality, and the 2TB PATA HDD was fully loaded with emulators, original games, etc. - can't recommend this guy enough.

    Normally I am all about modding things myself, but even I myself would not have been able to match that level of quality; also makes me feel incredibly old knowing that the original XBox falls into the "retro" category now... :eek:
    Not trying to endorse him or anything, just saying that for an all-in-one retrogaming unit, that console is nearly the best I have ever seen next to my own soft-modded Gamecube, and far more fully loaded.

    I really hope this inspires someone else out there, and am very much hoping to see pics of other individuals' retro setups, no matter how big or small, or professional or ghetto they might be. :sneaky:
    Stay retro! :cool:
     
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  5. defaultluser

    defaultluser I B Smart

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    That's pretty impressive!

    Eh, if we're talking about emulation, I'd rather do it myself on a PC. I've been futzing around with EmuHawk, which has excellent multi-system support. It also has pretty impressive and tweakable fast-forward and rewind stave states built-in, although it's not as seamless as others. Still a nice feature to have, even if there are occasional hitches when you have it-turned-on.

    And I love the fact that like most newer emulators, they have dedicated F-keys for all the save states. No cryptic cycling through which save state you're on with anther set of keys.

    It's all hooked up to my OLED TV screen, so it looks even better than it ever did when I was growing up :D

    The exception of "do it yourself" is my DSTWO+, because I like the old NesDS emulator (first seamless implementation of FFW/Rewind buttons I can recall), and the SNES emulator runs pretty smooth on the processor included in the cartridge. I also hate hauling around my old DS cartridges.

    The controls on the DS/3DS were made for portable emulation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  6. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Thanks, I never realized how long it takes to setup a room like this, but it was totally worth it!
    It has been a long time since I've really been into emulation, but I will have to give EmuHawk a try, especially with the F-key save states, that sounds like such a nice feature; DSTWO+ sounds awesome as well - I've really been out of the loop on some of this stuff in the last few years, wow.

    I've thought about doing something like that with x86-64 equipment and running emulators on an HD/4K screen; if you have pics, please share them if you have time!
    There is just something about running original hardware (and an emulator or two, heh) on an older CRT SDTV that gives it an old school feel and without faux scanlines or anything.

    That sounds really hipster, haha, and I do want to be clear, play whatever games/systems/software/etc. how you want to play it on the hardware you want to play it on and use what works. :)
    Not everyone can afford original hardware, which is what prompted me to go with emulation on an original XBox, mostly for arcade games.

    There are a few people I've seen start to collect original arcade JAMMA boards and use those, and while I'm all about original hardware and all, some of those boards go for $250 to $1000+ each, yikes! :greedy:
    Thanks again for the information on those emulators, I will be checking those out very soon. (y)
     
  7. defaultluser

    defaultluser I B Smart

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    Oh I know dude, but I can't deny that tech marches on and you can do just about everything with a single box.

    I understand the satisfaction of the original systems, but thirty years later I don't have the time and really can't dedicate the space. Emulation is a whole lot more accurate than it used to be, and lets you see everything at the bare pixel level. You can add whatever filters that please you do recreate that exact experience you're looking for.

    I never want to have to say "you can't play X system, it's broken." With a computer, they either all work or nothing works. Also, aside from the NES, SNES and Genesis there are very few games from other console platforms that I've fallen in love with, so PC emulation covers everything from NES up to Gamecube.

    I'm just too lazy to dig out my NES and Genesis, and the Wii broke. My Friends all stropped playing Mario Cart, and I've never been much good at fighting games (this includes smash), so I'm not really missing much. Nobody I know shares my love for Fzero GX, so I have no long-term desire to unlock all the vehicles again.

    I'm good at FPS, but my 3D control of choice is keyboard and mouse, which nukes 99% of the need to own a modern console. The 360 controller is only good for indie platformers and puzzle games, and a few RPGs. Most of those will get ported to PC anyway.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  8. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    It is nice that we have the option to run everything out of a single system now.
    I remember the first time I used NESticle back around '96 or so, and that completely blew my mind that one could play NES games on a PC.

    Crazy to think that just about any modern system can run nearly any former system up to the last generation - you are right, the emulation has improved vastly over the last 20 years.
    F-Zero GX looked like a ton of fun, and I remember MetalJesusRocks talking about it in a few of his videos - looked great and the soundtrack was awesome, and I'm only sad that I didn't know about it until very recently.

    It really is amazing that something as small as the Raspberry Pi 3 can run just about any older system fairly well, and at such a low cost.
    It will be neat to see where the technology will take us next!
     
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  9. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

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    Nice original Xbox setup! I still maintain that it's a better console in terms of exclusives than both of its successors, and for all those PS2/Xbox multiplats denied PC and GameCube releases, the Xbox version is usually miles ahead of the PS2.

    Besides, original Xbox emulation is still nonexistent in practical terms despite its PC similarities. Good thing the real console's relatively trivial to modify.

    In other news from last week:
    -I looked at a second Amiga 4000 recently. Revision B mobo again. 16 MB of 72-pin Fast RAM SIMMs that work fine, but the retainer tabs on some of the slots are busted. Leaky battery and caps, but thankfully functional with all audio channels audible - from both RCAs, suggesting my original understanding of the A4000 audio output was in error. Slimmer FZ-357A HD floppy, which is much easier to run dual in an A4000 than my taller FB-357A. Super Buster Revision 11. Video Toaster 4000. GVP Impact SCSI card with drive and 2 MB of Zorro II space (24-bit) Fast RAM. A3640 with 25 MHz 68040.

    Definitely glad that one still works, but it'll need a recap job eventually.

    -I took a lengthy (over 1 hour) drive to someone with a bunch of suitable retro PC graphics cards, a lot more modern PC parts (actually proposing a hex-core Westmere i7 or Xeon on X58 as an upgrade route for a Q6600 box), and unexpectedly, a first-gen Surface Pro 128 GB with Touch Cover and AC adapter.

    He gave me some good soldering tips and tricks, too. Turns out that it pays off to have irons/stations that can run hotter, as well as tips appropriately sized to the components. He does fine-pitch SMD IC work, even tighter than what I deal with, but also admitted that some of those A4000 caps are in very tight spaces, like "I wish I had hot air" tight.

    I'd actually been dabbling too much with the Surface Pro to get another retrogaming build going, but it's definitely still in the cards. S3 or Matrox for 2D, 3dfx for 3D, a nice Athlon or P3 in the 1 GHz range... that should make for a good 98SE setup. Only problem's that HP did the usual cheap-ass OEM thing on the next setup to be and refused to have Asus solder in the AGP slot, the jerks! How else am I going to use my Voodoo5 5500 cards?
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
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  10. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Thanks a lot!
    That's true, most of the multi-platform games from that era really do run and tend to look better on the original Xbox.

    Interesting, I never realized that the original Xbox wasn't emulated very well - kind of surprising since it is x86-based, but I suppose the similarities with IBM-based PC equipment ends there, heh.
    I'm still blown away that you were able to find an Amiga 4000, those are such rare units, let alone be able to work on one and upgrade it with so much equipment - so lucky! (y)

    Aren't those upgradeable from the 68040 to the 68060 CPU?
    Sounds like that was a fun and productive trip, and those systems would definitely be a nice upgrade to that Q6600 - crazy to think how old that CPU and platform is now, I remember when those were bleeding edge. :eek:

    Ugh, I remember when OEMs would cheap-out and remove the AGP slot - I had a Compaq from the late 1990s and a friend with a Dell from the early 2000s that both had them removed - only option was either integrated graphics or a PCI-based GPU.
    Upgraded mine to a GeForce 2 MX 32MB PCI card, and it was a such a huge upgrade - funny to think that it didn't even have a heatsink!

    Those are really good options for a 98SE system, and it will be a fun system once you get it up and running. (pics!) :D
    Nice find on that Surface Pro as well, those are super handy systems, though the only thing I didn't care for on them was that the AC adapter provided less power than the system used when under load, so while it took a bit, I remember they would eventually run out of battery if using it for rendering or data crunching for too long of a period, though I get they weren't necessarily designed for that.

    Thanks for the update, can't wait to hear more from you, and hopefully a few pics as well! :)
     
  11. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

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    Pics, you say? I should've posted this one:
    Amiga_4000_side_by_side.jpg

    Unlike the one he left me, this one has a faceplate that thankfully isn't piss-yellow for a change (gotta learn how to retr0brite right), though I'll still have to figure out why that IDE drive isn't coming up at all.

    I may have also forgotten to mention my acquisition of an Emplant board (pictured in the top slot of the left one), which isn't strictly necessary for Mac emulation, but adds the usual RS-422 serial ports and SCSI. I figure it'll come in handy for attempting LocalTalk connectivity later with my Power Mac 9600.

    The A4000 is indeed upgradable to a 68060 with a socket adapter on the A3640 board (060s run at 3.3V, so plugging one into an 040 socket meant for 5V is a great way to fry it), or if you're downright rich, one of those rare 68060/PowerPC upgrade boards that also often come with upgraded SCSI controllers and RTG board options.

    The last few CyberGraph PPC boards I saw on eBay went for over $2,000, with the CyberVision PPC board to match adding another $500 or so to that. Factor in the usual $650-700 for the A4000 itself, and I don't think I have to get into what kind of kick-ass modern PC you can build with that kind of budget...

    However, PowerPC on a classic Amiga seems kinda pointless from a practical perspective, with the games that require such a board generally running far better on more common PC or Mac hardware. We're talking stuff like Quake, Freespace 1, Wipeout, etc. It's the games that require a fast 68060 or even the Vampire 68080 and RTG that I'd be worried about right now.

    Pics for the next Win9x build will come when I'm ready for it, but right now, it's something I haven't had enough time to really dive into, in part because I've been acquainting myself with that Surface Pro instead. Do I keep that or my usual Fujitsu T902? Only time will tell, I suppose.

    I'm thinking that no physical AGP slot will really hamstring that HP desktop I picked up, but a fast Athlon over 1 GHz coupled with 1 GB of SDRAM (for which 512 MB DIMMs aren't terribly common and made the system worth it by themselves) should work wonders on UT'99. The main thing is either soldering on an AGP slot and hoping I don't need to go flashing a replacement BIOS or anything to get it to work, or just replacing the mobo entirely with something that has AGP that'll fit a V5 5500, maybe with some ISA slots for sound cards' sake.

    Also, have a look at all these cards...
    retrocomputing_haul_7-14-2018.jpg

    Interestingly enough, the Matrox cards have DA-15s alongside the usual DE-15, perhaps to facilitate the use of older Macintosh monitors. I wonder if you can run these things in a PCI Power Mac, though I didn't get those for that purpose.

    The 7800 GS AGP, on the other hand? As soon as I can get a replacement ROM with enough capacity and the correct format soldered in, I'm benching that thing in my MDD G4, even if it's probably more deserving of a G5. I just don't have any Power Mac G5s.
     
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  12. gamerk2

    gamerk2 [H]ard|Gawd

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    There are a number of problems with XB emulation. I had a post stickied a few years back; the gist of it was there were major API problems (due to multiple revisions), as well as major problems emulating the underlying XBOX OS. By contrast, the PS3, which has much more difficult to emulate hardware, has easier to emulate software.
     
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  13. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

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    I knew the proprietary NVIDIA NV2A and lack of documentation on it would be an issue, but I wasn't expecting serious API inconsistency.

    I do know that the 1.6 Xbox revision changing to a proprietary Xcalibur encoder chip caused issues not just for homebrew, but for some retail titles. Panzer Dragoon Orta is a garbled mess in 480p mode on a 1.6 Xbox, for example.

    That point about PS3 emulation is a good one, and also ties into why Wii U emulation is surprisingly advanced right now. These consoles are modern enough that developers were generally using high-level APIs and multiplatform game engines by default, so using high-level API emulation is far more feasible, unlike the older days when hitting the bare metal was still expected to get good performance out of a console.

    That was still a thing on the PS2, now that I think about it. Whatever Project ACES was doing on Ace Combat 04/5/Zero is not easy for PCSX2 to cope with; I'm talking terrain errors with hardware rendering, missing hitboxes on enemy units, all sorts of unplayable nastiness. Even partial BC PS3s without the Emotion Engine and PS2 RAM reportedly don't run them properly.
     
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  14. gamerk2

    gamerk2 [H]ard|Gawd

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    The Wii U is actually really easy to emulate; it's CPU is a direct descendant of the Wii's CPU, which itself is a direct descendant of the Gamecube's CPU.

    Certain PS2 games take advantage of various undocumented features of the HW. And because PCSX2 tends to care about the end result rather then properly emulating features, a lot of stuff gets broken when they take advantage of said undocumented features. Dolphin was a lot like this prior to 4.0, where the devs really started to focus on accurately emulating features and removing hacks from the emulator.

    As for the PS3, I question if PCs will ever be able to emulate the Cell at any degree of speed. It's hard enough to code to it directly, emulating it correctly and at a decent speed is going to be hell.
     
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  15. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Man, those systems are awesome, thanks for sharing and posting pics! (y)
    Even though I've never been into Amiga hardware or software, I am envious of the journey you are embarking with those systems; I just ended up going the X68000 and PC-98 path, but maybe someday...

    I kind of forgot about the yellowing on older plastics, depending on the materials and oils they were manufactured with.
    If I remember right, I thought that it was some type of fire retardant that was responsible for the yellowing when it was overly exposed to UV light, but I could be remembering wrong.

    The 8-Bit Guy has a great guide for the retrobrite process:


    Not sure if you've seen him before or not, but his channel has tons of great retrocomputing how-to content:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22/videos

    Ah, that's right, I forgot the 68040 and 68060 ran at different voltages; definitely don't want to use one without the right adapter.
    You are right, those things are super expensive, and it seems that way for *any* CPU accelerator out there for nearly any system.

    The Xellent30 68030 CPU accelerator for the X68000 Expert-HD was over $650 USD, not counting shipping, and that was over two years ago (had to save up for a long time to get that) - couldn't imagine what they cost now, assuming one can even be found.
    The hyper-rare Mercury 68060 CPU accelerator can easily go for over $1500 USD for a rough-looking model, let alone a mint or unboxed unit. :eek:

    That high price tag is what mainly has kept me from entering the Amiga arena, but the fact that you have two A4000 units is just crazy - seriously nice find on those.
    As for 512MB SDR SDRAM DIMMs, yeah, those are extremely rare and costly - very nice find on those as well.

    I used to have a few 2GB DDR1 SDRAM DIMMs once, and those were highly elusive as well; seems to be that way with 8GB+ DDR2 SDRAM DIMMs, too.
    At the end of the day, one could have purchased a supercomputer for the cost of some of this equipment, but the journey and discoveries are really what make it worth it! :cool:

    That last pic is hilarious to me, mainly because at one point or another back in the 2000s, I used to have every single one of those GPUs including the sound card, though not all at the same time.
    I remember when everyone thought that 7800GS was going to be the very last card for AGP (AMD later released the HD4670 on AGP, which I believe is the very last GPU on that port) and I really yearned for one, but just couldn't afford it (was like $600 back in 2006, new) due to being in college at the time - tuition fees, ouch.

    Luckily, a friend of mine, circa 2007, ended up giving me his 'then old' BFG Tech 6800GT AGP GPU, which was broken but under warranty, which I sent back in and got a replacement 7800GS 256MB AGP 8x GPU - my dreams came true! :p
    For the time, and before NVIDIA and AMD/ATI's unified architectures were a thing, that 7800GS actually was a kickass GPU and was quite capable, with really similar performance to the 7800GT on PCI-E 16x 1.0 from Q4 2005.

    Oh man, you are bringing back some good memories!
    That GPU is more than that poor MDD G4 is going to be able to handle - be gentle with her. :ROFLMAO:
     
  16. SamirD

    SamirD [H]ard|Gawd

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    I actually helped a friend build one of the fastest systems I ever used and it was rambus based. Later he sold it to some girl who I later bought it from. It was wicked fast, and I think the rambus memory had a lot to do with that. Too bad the northbridge or southbridge fan stopped once and I wasn't home so by the time I got home it was burned up. :( I still have that system and it ran xp like it was on fire so I'll resurrect it someday if I can find the same motherboard and just transplant everything over. (y)
     
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  17. SamirD

    SamirD [H]ard|Gawd

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    I don't know how I missed your reply either. :confused:

    So are you still Dallas or what? :eek:
     
  18. SamirD

    SamirD [H]ard|Gawd

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    And don't forget about those huge 25" console crt tvs--they made awesome monitors for c64 games. :D
     
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  19. SamirD

    SamirD [H]ard|Gawd

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    You're tempting me to take pictures of our 'attic' at my parents house full of the old PCs I rdp into daily as well as boxes of some of our original commodore computer gear. In fact, I guess I would have to take pictures of all the places the computers are now as they're scattered all around the house to avoid tripping breakers. :D Someday...:love:
     
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  20. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I do remember those, and they were very high quality for the time, though I remember any CRT SDTV at that time with composite (let alone the then-legendary S-Video) inputs were very sought-after.
    Heck, they are probably more sought-after now then they ever were before due to the huge retro craze going on!

    Oh man, that all sounds awesome.
    Those systems are still in use as well? Nice! (y)

    Does the 'attic' area stay cool enough for all of that equipment?
    I used to work for a place that had their server room on the 3rd floor with a dedicated AC unit for it, and really, it should have had three of those units going at any given time. :eek:

    Definitely can't wait for you to share some pics if you have a chance! :D
     
  21. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

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    I've heard of the 8-Bit Guy, even stumbling across a few of his "iBook Guy"-era videos. Not surprising when I've had the chance to dabble with vintage Macs far sooner.

    As for going down the X68000/general J-PC path, that comes next. It's just that your typical X68000 XVI makes an Amiga look cheap by comparison, though with the stupid high prices I'm seeing for A4000s and even A3000s on eBay as of late, probably not that much cheaper. I don't expect the FM Towns line to be that much more affordable, either. (Remember that my dabbling in Amiga land was expected to be an A500 with an eventual Vampire upgrade; I wasn't expecting to see an A4000 in person, let alone two!)

    Even then, I'd have to deal with language barriers. Sure, someone was working on a patch for Die Bahnwelt, but the only way anyone's playing Emerald Dragon in English at the moment is through the heavily-changed Super Famicom port. (Oh, did I forget to mention that it was an English Emerald Dragon/general Glodia fan site that taught me about X68000/FM Towns supremacy in the first place?) I suppose I can make do with Geograph Seal in the meantime.

    Also worth noting is that I don't own both of those A4000s, I'm just looking over them for potential issues. It's very likely that I might end up owning one as a result of my preservation efforts (we're still discussing that and some other stuff on our spare time), but it's likely to be the piss-yellowed faceplate with the two missing audio channels I haven't figured out yet. Oh, and the thing about retr0brite is that it takes some care to do it evenly, which is my big concern. The only thing more unsightly than unintended yellowing is uneven unintended yellowing, and it's very possible if the process largely hinges on UV light being able to shine on the affected areas.

    I remember seeing a YouTube video of an X68030 with an '060 accelerator prominently showing on its boot screen; that thing must be money, about as rare and expensive as one of those Amiga PowerPC accelerators. I'm not sure what anyone would actually run on it, though, as much like the Amiga, the X68000 is treated as a more console-like experience by its developers, based around its custom chipset capabilities and a mere 10/16 MHz 68000 (the latter of which will run Geograph Seal surprisingly smoothly, no need for an '030 or '060), with supposed incompatibilities for some games on an X68030. (I have a feeling this may be related to the CPU caches, as this is also a source of incompatibility for OCS/ECS Amiga games on AGA systems if you don't use the Early Boot Menu to disable the caches on a typical '030/'040 system.)

    What I really need to get around to doing, though, is figuring out how the Fusion emulator works with the Emplant board (same developer), and in turn, properly installing the Mac OS without resorting to whipping up some System 7.1 floppies and feeding 'em through the half-speed FB-357A. I was hoping to just cram in a SCSI drive with System 7 already pre-installed, but it's not turning out to be that easy. Maybe I need to install some device libraries for the Emplant's SCSI controller and RS-422 serial ports into the Workbench folder? The included software disk didn't seem to have any.

    Oh, another big bit of Amiga news, before I forget: where the VA2000 disappeared, the ZZ9000 rises to the challenge! https://shop.mntmn.com/products/zz9000-for-amiga-preorder

    This goes beyond being mere Zorro II/III RTG and optional scandoubling/deinterlacing for native chipset video output, though; 1 GB of RAM, dual 666 MHz ARM Cortex-A9s for co-processing (hilariously overpowered compared to the typical 25 MHz 68040 it'll probably be paired with), microSD, Ethernet... about the only thing it doesn't do is CPU acceleration like a Vampire board would for a slightly higher price. If this thing ends up hitting the market later and delivering on its promises, I feel sorry for all those people suckered into paying $600+ for a Picasso IV.
     
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  22. GiGaBiTe

    GiGaBiTe Gawd

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    I have several of those Matrox cards, the DA-15 isn't for Mac monitors, at least they don't work on any of the mac monitors I've had over the years.

    MGA Millennium and Millennium II cards will work in PCI Power Macintosh machines, but you'll need to flash the BIOS first. Matrox has the BIOS images on their driver archive:

    http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/support/drivers/previous/mac/

    Make sure you back up the PC BIOS first because I don't think they have the PC BIOS available.
     
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  23. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    PlayStation 3 Cluster

    playstation_3_cluster_by_redfalcon696-dcmb2uj.png

    While this "technically" isn't retro, at least not until the mid-2020s, this is still an interesting project and piece of history.
    These Sony PlayStation 3 "fat" units were purchased at a military auction, and I was able to obtain them from that buyer.

    But that isn't the interesting part - that would be the fact that these were actually part of the US Air Force Research Laboratory's Condor supercomputer, which was the 33rd top supercomputer in the world back in 2007.
    The Condor supercomputer was equipped with over 1760 PlayStation 3 units, and at around 150 GFLOPS of FP32 computational processing in each unit, it was quite powerful at over 500 TFLOPS at the time.

    AFRL Promotional Video circa 2012:


    PS3 Cluster General Info - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_3_cluster
    Promotional Article - https://phys.org/news/2010-12-air-playstation-3s-supercomputer.html

    Each PlayStation 3 unit was never updated with a newer firmware, and any unit with firmware 3.16 or later lost the ability to run the OtherOS hypervisor in order to run GNU/Linux (PPC64), and these were roughly at firmware 2.XX.
    I was able to update them to firmware 3.15, which was the latest firmware that still offered OtherOS.

    The PlayStation 3 units are all equiped with an IBM Cell CPU @ 3.2GHz with 1 PPE (PowerPC general-purpose CPU core with SMT) and 7 SPEs (8 natively on the Cell, with 1 SPE disabled in the PS3 Cell and 1 dedicated to the hypervisor) with roughly 25 GFLOPS SP32 in the PPE and 150 GFLOPS SP32 in the 6 available SPEs (25 GFLOPS per SPE), 256MB of XRDRAM, and a 32GB SSD (see parts list for details).
    PPE = Power Processing Element
    SPE = Synergistic Processing Element (FPUs)

    These arrived with the disk drives and disk caddies pulled from them, so I needed to install new disk drives and update the firmware.
    To update the firmware, it must be loaded onto a USB flash drive at least 1GB in size or greater, with the file in a folder called UPDATE within another folder called PS3 in order for it to read the file.

    PS3 Firmware 3.15 can be found here - http://www.psdevwiki.com/ps3/3.15_CEX
    MPICH can be found here - https://www.mpich.org/
    YDL 6.2 can be found here - http://osarchive.sda1.eu/yellow-dog

    In order to boot the PS3 into the base firmware, press and hold the power button on the front of the case until four separate beeps have been heard and the PS3 shuts down.
    Then press and hold the power button until two separate beeps and two beeps in succession have been heard, and then release the power button.

    Then, update the firmware (should be option 5) and then format the disk drive.
    Once into the PS3 OS itself, insert the GNU/Linux YDL 6.2 disc and install OtherOS, then format the disk drive with 10GB for the PS3 OS and the rest of the storage for OtherOS.

    Once this is done, the PS3 will reboot, and then set the default OS to be OtherOS - leave the YDL disc in the disc tray, and reboot the PS3.
    Go through the installation of the YDL disc and make sure to install all necessary packages that a server would use, at least which is offered.

    Once the packages have all installed and the OS has been setup, go through the following below-steps to get MPICH (Message Passing Interface Chameleon 3.X.X) installed and functioning.
    After this is all done, and each node is setup, you should have a fully functional Beowulf computer cluster of PlayStation 3 units - good luck!


    visudo (add user to sudo group)
    (make sure to disable the firewall in the GUI and disable gateway, otherwise the nodes won't be able to communicate)
    mkdir /home/username/mpich
    cd /home/username/mpich
    tar xfz mpich-3.2.1.tar.gz
    mkdir /home/username/ps3mpi
    mkdir /home/username/ps3mpi/mpich-install
    mkdir /home/username/mpich_build
    cd /home/username/mpich_build

    sudo /home/username/mpich/mpich-3.2.1/configure -prefix=/home/username/ps3mpi/mpich-install
    sudo make
    sudo make install
    export PATH=$PATH:/home/username/ps3mpi/mpich-install/bin
    vi /home/username/.profile
    (PATH=$PATH:/home/username/ps3mpi/mpich-install/bin)

    which mpicc
    which mpiexec
    mkdir /home/username/mpi_testing
    cd /home/username/mpi_testing
    vi machinefile
    (192.168.1.200 or needed IP addresses in decending order)

    mpiexec -f /home/username/mpi_testing/machinefile -n 1 hostname
    mpiexec -f /home/username/mpi_testing/machinefile -n 1 /home/username/mpich_build/examples/cpi
    mpiexec -f /home/username/mpi_testing/machinefile -n 2 /home/username/mpich_build/examples/cpi

    ssh-keygen -t rsa
    Enter file in which to save the key (/home/username/.ssh/id_rsa): [press Enter]
    Enter passphrase: ps3cluster
    cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh username@192.168.1.201 "mkdir .ssh;cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys"

    ssh username@192.168.1.201 -p 22
    ls –al ~/.ssh
    (should show output of the authorized_keys file)
    exit

    vi /home/username/mpi_testing/machinefile
    (add 192.168.1.201 under the first entry of 192.168.1.200)

    cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh username@192.168.1.202 "mkdir .ssh;cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys"
    cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh username@192.168.1.203 "mkdir .ssh;cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys"

    vi /home/username/mpi_testing/machinefile
    (add 192.168.1.202 and 192.168.1.203 under the other two IP entries)

    mpiexec -f /home/username/mpi_testing/machinefile -n 4 /home/username/mpich_build/examples/cpi

    (should show the following)
    Process 0 of 4 is on PS3-000
    Process 1 of 4 is on PS3-001
    Process 2 of 4 is on PS3-002
    Process 3 of 4 is on PS3-003
    pi is approximately 3.1415926544231239, Error is 0.0000000008333307
    wall clock time = 0.004214


    playstation_3_cluster___part_list_by_redfalcon696-dcmaz2m.png

    PlayStation 3 Cluster - Part List:

    - Four Sony PlayStation 3 units (firmware v3.15 or earlier with OtherOS)
    - Four Disk Drive caddies
    - Four TCSunBow 32GB SATA-II SSDs
    - Four Intercooler quad-40mm auxiliary USB fan units (optional)
    - Four Cat5e Ethernet cables (3-6 feet depending on setup)
    - One NetGear GS308 8-port gigabit network switch
    - One wired USB PS3 controller
    - One set of square rubber feet (four per PS3 unit)
    - 1GB or larger USB flash drive for PS3 firmware
    - DVD disc with Yellow Dog Linux 6.2
     
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  24. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

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    If those haven't succumbed to YLoD, then those are pretty valuable just from a historical standpoint. Who'd have thought that a bunch of game consoles would make for a practical supercomputer cluster?

    You could also set up a little PS3 LAN party, though sadly LAN on consoles wasn't really much of a thing beyond the original Xbox. Developers kind of assume people are either playing split-screen or playing online, as if offline networks don't exist (or back-end services like Xbox Live for original Xboxes or the ISPs themselves are reliable and will forever exist).

    What else gets sold at these military auctions, anyway? Turns out surplus is a good place to look if you want to look for potential simpit parts, though getting one's hands on stick grips and throttles can be difficult and expensive.
     
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  25. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    You bet your sweet ass they are! :D
    Completely forgot to mention, there are 9 more available as of this post:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sony-Playstation-3-CECHP01-Console-No-Hard-Drive-Linux-Workstation-PLS-READ/202402261238?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

    Just make absolutely sure you don't connect them to the Internet when they are in the PlayStation 3 OS, as it may try to cause the unit to download the latest firmware, which will completely remove OtherOS, and there is no way to roll them back to a previous firmware; exact same on the PlayStation 4 as well.
    Once OtherOS or Linux has been booted, then it is totally safe to connect them to the Internet as the firmware itself can only be updated through the PlayStation OS, which is no longer running, only the OtherOS hypervisor and the Linux OS itself.

    I have no idea, mainly since I wasn't the individual who was at the auction, but I was a bit jealous of such a cool and historic purpose. ;)
    However, the original person is still selling 9 of them right now, and for a great price, even for a regular PS3.

    They didn't come with disk caddies since they were pulled for obvious security reasons before the auction, but they can be obtained for cheap here:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Original-PS3-Hard-Drive-Caddy-w-Screws-Model-CECHH01-CECHK01-CECHL01-CECHP01/362193757562?ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

    Also, the reason I went with older SATA-II SSDs and not modern SATA-III SSDs was due to the fact that the PS3 units only have SATA-I, and SATA-III disk drives tend to have only semi-functional fall-back support for SATA-I depending on the disk controller used, and I wasn't going to take any chances!
    I was able to obtain the 32GB SATA-II SSDs here:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078KDYH2C/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
     
  26. defaultluser

    defaultluser I B Smart

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    They were only interesting for a moment in time. The limited interconnect options limited their scalability, along with the hard-to-optimize nature of the SPC..

    G80 was released only 2 years later, and achieved better perf/watt, at a time when PS3 units were priced into the stratosphere

    The Tesla version 2.0 (based on the GTX 280) achieved TWENTY times the performance of Cell, at five times the power consumption.

    Fermi upped the compute efficiency of the architecture into the stratosphere, and managed FIVE TIMES higher compute versus Tesla 2.0.

    https://www.semanticscholar.org/pap...nell/f1b6e1c5017902b4475a6a9b50b2dc003a65dac1

    10-Table2-1-3.png

    Still , it was an interesting experiment. Unfortunately, ps3 were much better suited for embarrassingly parallelizable problems. And that is why IBM dropped off the compute map almost overnight.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  27. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    It depends on the work load - for games, yes, the Cell was difficult to program for, but for specific parallel workloads and rendering, not so much.
    What "limited interconnect options limited their scalability" do you mean? (The PS3 units had 1000Base-T NICs, so outside of that, I'm not sure what you mean)

    Also, did you mean SPE instead of "SPC"?

    The NVIDIA G80 was released on November 8, 2006.
    The Sony PlayStation 3 was released November 17, 2006.

    Not sure where you read that the G80 released two years later than the PS3.
    Also, the price/performance ratio of the PS3, even with a non-full Cell CPU, was amazing for the time - full Cell CPU-based enterprise systems were at least ten to twenty times more costly at the time, and x86-64 systems were laughable for these types of workloads, especially at the PS3's price point.

    Another thing, while it is true that the G80 was far more capable of FP32 operations than the Cell, GPGPU compute was brand new and virtually no software at the time was written for it, so it really is an unfair assessment to directly compare the Cell to the G80 at that point in time since the Cell was fully proven and the G80, and its subsequent GPGPU technologies, had only just emerged.
    CUDA was literally at version 1.0, and completely unproven at the time, and OpenCL wasn't released until Q3 of 2009 - thus, CPU compute was still very much the way to go, and the Cell offered processing capabilities that were basically unmatched in general-purpose CPUs at the time.

    Again, in mid-2008 and early-2009 when the NVIDIA 200 series GPUs were released, which was still after the Condor supercomputer had already been implemented and was proven.
    Even in 2009, GPGPU compute was still very young and was only beginning to be adopted - GPGPU compute really didn't take off for both NVIDIA and AMD until 2010; even though the hardware was there, the software and development tools were not.

    It was really more like two times higher, not five times:

    The Tesla C1060 (GT200) was capable of around ~620 GFLOPS FP32 circa 2009.
    The Fermi M2090 (GF110) was capable of around ~1330 GFLOPS FP32 circa 2011.

    I'm really not trying to defend the IBM Cell processor or anything, but that article was a bit off.
    Each PS3 unit/node was able to compute upwards of 150 GFLOPS (~25 GFLOPS/SPE) and another ~25 GFLOPS from the PPE, not 5.23 GFLOPS for the whole unit/CPU.

    Heck, even single-core Intel Netburst Xeon CPUs were able to get near 5 GFLOPS of FP32 at the time.
    That article doesn't even make sense.

    The Cell processor was very proven in enterprise and compute environments by both IBM and the tech industry in general.
    Why would you say it was an "experiment"?

    I will agree with you on this to a point, but the Cell also allowed software technologies like NVIDIA PhysX to be capable of even running on the PS3, since the GPU in it was the generation right before the G80 which did not have a unified-shader architecture and was not itself capable of running PhysX - the Cell CPU did all of that with its SPE units.
    Without the Cell, that wouldn't have been possible on the PS3 with games like Batman Arkham Asylum.

    IBM sold numerous Cell-based systems, both workstations and enterprise servers, not just to Sony for the PS3.
    They also sold the Cell CPU from the mid-2000s to 2012, when it was finally discontinued, and when GPGPU compute was really starting to ramp up, so from a business-standpoint, that makes sense.

    Over six years of sales is hardly dropping off the compute map "almost overnight". ;)
    I would definitely recommend that you learn a bit more about this and read up on some history of the processor, as it really is very interesting from both a business and historic technological standpoint. :)

    The Cell really is the middle-man, so to speak, between classic CPUs and APUs with GPGPU compute, and was certainly a huge technological innovation at the time, especially when x86-64 CPUs were only just becoming dual-core designs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2018
  28. defaultluser

    defaultluser I B Smart

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    You are correct about those computing tests only running on the main cell processor. Sorry I missed that detail.

    The main problem with cell is its bad design. The SPES are only a small part of the processor so any flaw in the rest of v the die meant an unsalvageable hunk.

    In addition, the SPES were way too beefy, which made a single flaw in the die have a huge performance impact. They had to cut the ps3 to c seven just to make it work, and they still lost money at the same launch price as Nvidia g80.

    The g80 was more economical because the compute units were tiny, so the impact for one flaw was smaller. And the compute units were the vast majority of die space. It made money despite being a larger die.

    While there were one off success stories for Cell, it's only super computer was IBM financed. The clusters built by small organizations were only financially solvent because Sony was losing hundreds per sale., and those would never become huge because of the limitations of the architecture.
     
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  29. NamelessPFG

    NamelessPFG Limp Gawd

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    Those are CECHP models; I'll pass. I'm mainly interested in the original CECHA models, as those have an entire section of the motherboard literally devoted to PS2 hardware - EE, GS and RAM altogether. That's why they don't have the compatibility issues of the later ones that axed the EE and the RAM.

    Interestingly, they also use a larger section of NAND to store the firmware rather than a tiny bit of NOR, so you don't have to reinstall the firmware outright every time you swap hard drives (firmware is partially HD-installed on NOR models). I know this first hand, as I own a CECHA that thankfully hasn't gone YLoD on me.

    Firmware versions aren't so much of a problem nowadays, since people found out a downgrading method for the PS3 that works on any system that can boot older firmwares. That said, most of that centers around installing OFW 3.55 and then installing a CFW, as most PS3 users don't have any interest in Other OS due to obvious lack of support over the years.

    Also, firmware updates generally aren't automated on the PS3. They have to be done manually, in my experience. That said, leaving the Internet disconnected is a good way to avoid updating it by accident if you're unfamiliar with the system.

    There's also one other variety of PS3 that particularly interests me, and of course, that's the DECR-1000 devkit system. They're still a bit pricey, though, and lack the PS2 backwards compatibility, which is understandable for a system designed for the purpose of producing software to run on entirely new hardware without dependencies on legacy bits inside. (We've already seen what happens to certain PS1 games when you run them on later Slim PS2 models that replaced the CPU and other bits originally present for PS1 compatibility...)
     
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  30. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I agree with that, and if you are just wanting to use it for gaming, especially for PS2 games, they definitely aren't meant for that.
    These were mainly interesting for the option to still run the OtherOS hypervisor, but if there really is a way to downgrade the firmware, then that's awesome.

    If only they had something like that for the PS4, as I would love to roll back a few of those and get a Linux cluster going on them, mainly since it gives access to the CPU and GPU resources for GPGPU compute.
    Again, though, it would more just be for fun than practicality, as is basically everything in this thread for such things. ;)

    Good luck finding a DECR-1000 devkit - I've seen a few of them for sale, but they are $$$$ and far too rich for my blood.
    If you do happen to get one, please post about it or share a few pics like you've done before - while it technically isn't retro yet, it is EoL and will become classified as retro in less than five years from now.

    Plus, all of your posts have been pretty heavy with information that normally isn't seen on here, and is definitely a benefit to anyone looking into such things. (y)
     
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  31. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Happy Halloween!

    halloween_2018_by_redfalcon696-dcqvrjw.jpg

    This was a bit of a fun "project" getting 8-bit Jason Voorhees brought to life by yours truly, along with the original Friday the 13th NES game from 1988 in the background playing as well.
    In the lower left is also an 8-Bit Boy from 2018 playing the A Nightmare on Elm Street NES game from 1989 in the lower-left corner.

    Can't recommend the 8-Bit Boy enough as it has a super long-lasting rechargeable battery, micro USB charger (1A or larger works great), 4:3 and 16:9 screen options (can switch on-the-fly), HDMI output, and turbo buttons - can be found on Amazon right now for less than $100 USD, which is definitely very worth it for playing the original carts on the go and on modern 4K/HDTVs with great response times!
    Stay retro! :mask:
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
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  32. SamirD

    SamirD [H]ard|Gawd

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    Agh! I didn't see your reply. :cry:

    It does, but it has its own AC unit, which can only bring temps down to 80 during the summer day heat and then drops to 74 at night. In the winter, it still comes on as without the AC, the temp rises about 2deg per hour. :eek: Yep, this attic is almost like that and I've started to distribute systems all over the house since we have 2 gigabit ports in each room and space in each room. In the winter I should be able to crank up more systems as they'll double as heaters. :D

    I think the oldest working system that I regularly use is a p4 1.8 400fsb system that was the file server at a hotel for about 10-15 years and then set aside in storage. Last year I put it into service after upgrading the 128gb of ram (it originally ran 98se) to 768. It logs into a console via vnc and runs a batch file on a daily basis and does a great job. :) It's power on life is now approaching 20 years. IBM has made some solid stuff over the years. :)
     
  33. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    haha, I know how that goes. :D
    Oh wow, no wonder you need a dedicated AC unit in your attic - even in winter time, it still gets that hot?? Wow!

    That's a good idea about using the computers as heaters.
    Folding with 250 watt TDP GPUs with F@H (for team 33, woo!) will heat nearly any room up, so I've attempted a similar thing as that - great minds think alike!

    The oldest system you have is from 2000???
    You're making me feel so old! :D

    You are right, though, those IBM servers were built like tanks, both inside and out, and have always used very good components and decent cooling.
    (btw, did you mean 128MB of RAM, or 128GB? - assuming 128MB, heh) ;)

    Nice, I remember when 128MB of RAM was actually quite good around 2000-2002 - what OS are you running on it now with 768MB of RAM?
    dat power on life - x86/x86-64 equipment won't be made to last like that ever again.

    Ironically enough, the primary data/print/scan/fabric server that we used at that site from the post you quoted, was indeed a Netburst 2P Dell server that was around 1.8GHz and 400MHz FSB for each CPU in it.
    That system was already around a half-decade old when I started working there, and it was only just finally retired a few years ago, so that one as well would be pushing around 15+ years of uptime as well.

    Crazy to think that some of these older systems might actually outlive us. :eek:
    That's really cool that you can still get an active use out of that system, very nice work! (y)
     
  34. SamirD

    SamirD [H]ard|Gawd

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    Oh no, it's not the oldest--oldest I think is our IBM PS/2 30-286 which was our first IBM PC. I have some Commodore 64s as well as a TI994a as well, just not connected to anything atm. Still trying to get everything organized and working, while actually trying to be working too, haha.

    Yes, 128MB, holy moly I can't believe I messed that up. Back in the day we'd be going from 128k of memory to 768k! My oh my is everything bloated these days. Especially when a DOS word processor can still spell check the entire document in an instant.

    This was basically an IBM desktop, model 6794-21U that was used as a file server. It's amazing how well the IBM hardware was made for this era, decommissioned usually after a decade of being on 24x7 in the most dusty and not sought after environments. And then I dusted them out and turned them on and they booted back up like yesterday. Lovely stuff!

    So with 768 of ram I can run windows steadystate under xp. And since it's usually not doing much, it's just quietly humming along. I added a gigabit nic even though it probably can't max it out. Still better than the stock 100Mbits.

    I can't see it outliving me unless it gets recapped and refurbished as components eventually die. I actually lost one IBM earlier this year when the AC went out in the attic for a few hours and the temps climbed into the mid 80s. Another IBM just overheated and popped a cap. :( It was a p4 3ghz machine too that ran quite nicely. I had upgraded it to 3gb of ram and added an agp gpu.

    And there's a few other casualties before I even got them--a pair of Lenovo desktops that must have overheated and popped some caps during their life. One of them intermittently can boot, but it's obvious its on its last legs. I scavenged the ram from these machines for the others. But I'm sure these will be the perfect repair parts that someone needs so I'll make sure they get to the next person that can use them versus the trash can. Electronics don't belong in the trash can anyways.
     
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  35. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Heh, that makes more sense, and it does sound like quite the collection.
    I've always wanted to work with Commodore 64/128 systems, and there is even a newer game out for them that looks great:



    Yes, working on this stuff while working normally is quite the task!
    I've recently tried to minimize the amount of projects going on due to getting carried away with work and other things - but this is all so much fun. :D

    I do remember back to when the "average" RAM for a system was 1MB, and did work on systems with 64KB of RAM, though I was too young at the time to understand how it all worked.
    These days, yes, I can totally appreciate older 8-bit systems with a 16-bit address bus that could only use up to 64KB of RAM without bank-switching, or a 16-bit system with a 20-bit address bus that can use up to 640KB (1MB total, but the upper 384KB was reserved for hardware) - good times!

    You are correct, everything this day and age is extremely bloated, and it really is crazy to think that a modern system with "only" 4GB of RAM is considered low-end, and even 8GB really isn't enough for modern power users or AAA gaming at all - heck, Fallout 4 with the HD texture patch used over 10GB of RAM by itself - not counting the OS or any other programs running, and that was a game released nearly 3 years ago.
    That's pretty cool that that desktop fired back up like that.

    I remember seeing quite a few servers with 10K or 15K RPM HDDs that would have a similar uptime, and after powering the systems down, those HDDs would never spin back up again.
    Pretty neat that you have it going again, and that gigabit NIC was definitely a worthy upgrade to that system - the PCI lane(s) should be able to handle it, as even a 32-bit PCI bus @ 33MHz can perform around 133MB/s, and a lot of those early Netburst systems should have at least a 32-bit PCI bus @ 66MHz (266MB/s).

    Assuming the data being transferred isn't PIO-based or CPU-intensive, it should be capable of saturating that gigabit NIC, or at least come very close to doing so.
    Definitely a good upgrade to the older 100Base-TX NIC, that's for sure!

    That is true about those caps, as those are normally the first thing to go.
    That's too bad about the heat and those systems dieing, though it would definitely help keep the place warm in winter.

    +1 for recycling and re-using the older systems and parts, too!
     
  36. SamirD

    SamirD [H]ard|Gawd

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    Oh wow that game looks great! It's amazing how upon visual inspection of an older game may what look like arcane graphics is actually a tremendous amount of fun to play. My wife bought me a little atari 2600 portable game and I ended up blowing an hour or two at a time playing one of my all time favorites--Asteroids. Simple, blocky graphics, the same firing sound, the same 2-tone song! And yet it's still as fun and challenging as it was when I was a kid. And I get the same type of rsi when playing so long, so I don't anymore. I'm actually digging up my joysticks since I found a console version of the 2600 at goodwill (retro release, not original) that works, so I can hook up the old joysticks and have some better ergonomics. Did you know that the Commodore 64 and Atari 2600 shared the same joysticks? And we have almost every type ever made. Including the Sega genesis ones that also worked with the c64. Can't wait to have time to play with all that again...

    I know that feeling of getting carried away. Sometimes I just get lost in this computer world on purpose just as an escape. It's a great way to rejuvenate one's self.

    Oh yeah, 1MB was plenty when DOS was around. And tweaking all those little extra pockets of high memory once himem and emm386 came around could take days. The good thing is that when it was done, it was done for good--nothing ever changed it except hardware problems. No plug and play, no updates, nothing. You could set it and forget it. To this very day this simplicity is one of the hallmarks of dos that still has it running on embedded systems around the world.

    For games the size increase is totally fair. Games are bordering on movies and a high quality blu ray in itself is a couple of gigs, moreless all the code to render such visuals in realtime. Todays games are simply breathtaking, truly blurring the lines between other forms of entertainment and reality. I think that's why they're so popular too. Remember back the day if you played video games all day or went to the arcade regularly you were part of some sort of fringe culture? Now if you don't have an xbox or playstation at home you're weird! :ROFLMAO:

    Eek, I have some 2nd generation Cheetah drives on our p166 build from decades ago that I haven't powered up in a while now because the Supermicro mb seems to have given out due to a failing varta battery. I even contacted Supermicro about fixing it since it's their board and they can't do it. :( That system was an absolute beast. It took 17 fans to cool it and used over half of a 1000va UPS's capacity upon startup. Agh, I want to boot that thing again so bad right now. :(

    It might even be able to even better since the card is actually an Intel server card, so it does a lot of offloading on the nic itself. But I think I ran an iperf test and it did only top out at 330Mbps. Not surprising since my old Neoware thin clients with an Intel and a Via Eden processor top out around the same.

    Yeah, it's not like people were building boards with military grade caps like they are now. And it's good to see that there's a lot of people that are willing to keep the older stuff going so there's actually no reason to throw it away since you can give it away if not sell it. (y)
     
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