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Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:03 pm
by marmotta
Hi, my alphastation start with srm console without a problem... but when I set the os_type to NT or launch the arc command the screen remain black, with no life! Why?

For return to srm console I need to load a floppy firmware update (and set a jumper), halt, and set new os_type to Unix!

The checksum of the two firmware (srm and arc) is ok. I have updated several time the firmware and I use the latest version (7.2)

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 2:15 pm
by marmotta
I found the problem but not the solution... with S3Trio64 pci the arc firmware work good! With my default graphic board (Dynamic Pictures v192) the screen remain black :-(

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:00 am
by marmotta
My "Dynamic Pictures" seems to be a Dec ZLXP-L2 (PBXGC-BA).... with code xxxxx-BA is for Unix with code xxxxx-BN is for NT! Same identical card, but one not compatible with NT and another not compatible with Unix??? :? Why?

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:07 am
by johnnym
marmotta wrote:My "Dynamic Pictures" seems to be a Dec ZLXP-L2 (PBXGC-BA).... with code xxxxx-BA is for Unix with code xxxxx-BN is for NT! Same identical card, but one not compatible with NT and another not compatible with Unix??? :? Why?

Maybe these cards have different firmware loaded (i.e. similar to graphics cards for Apple PowerPC based machines with firmware for OpenFirmware (maybe written in Forth?) and the same one for PCs with firmware for x86 BIOSes):
  • one compatible with AlphaBIOS (I assume "standard" x86 firmware for -BN type which is executed by a builtin x86 emulator)
  • and the other one compatible with SRM (for -BA type)?

It could as well be that when NT has loaded and you have installed a driver for the graphics card in use it's not important, what firmware the graphics card really has, it will display the GUI correctly, but for the early boot process and firmware UI (AlphaBIOS setup or SRM console) it's important to have the correct (graphics) firmware for the (system) firmware in use.

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:47 am
by robespierre
Some Alpha firmwares contain a MIPS emulator for running code in I/O cards from MIPS workstations; it's possible that the SRM firmware for this machine has MIPS emulation but the AlphaBIOS has 386 emulation.
Alphas never supported OpenBoot or OpenFirmware to my knowledge.

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:42 am
by marmotta
johnnym wrote:
marmotta wrote:My "Dynamic Pictures" seems to be a Dec ZLXP-L2 (PBXGC-BA).... with code xxxxx-BA is for Unix with code xxxxx-BN is for NT! Same identical card, but one not compatible with NT and another not compatible with Unix??? :? Why?

Maybe these cards have different firmware loaded (i.e. similar to graphics cards for Apple PowerPC based machines with firmware for OpenFirmware (maybe written in Forth?) and the same one for PCs with firmware for x86 BIOSes):
  • one compatible with AlphaBIOS (I assume "standard" x86 firmware for -BN type which is executed by a builtin x86 emulator)
  • and the other one compatible with SRM (for -BA type)?

It could as well be that when NT has loaded and you have installed a driver for the graphics card in use it's not important, what firmware the graphics card really has, it will display the GUI correctly, but for the early boot process and firmware UI (AlphaBIOS setup or SRM console) it's important to have the correct (graphics) firmware for the (system) firmware in use.


I think this, but I don't understand why this card work good with my old Pentium...

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:57 am
by johnnym
marmotta wrote:I think this, but I don't understand why this card work good with my old Pentium...

That's indeed strange. Because if that graphics card runs or ran on an old Pentium machine, shouldn't it also run with AlphaBIOS's x86 emulation?

Could you also see its VGA BIOS message (i.e. something similar to this screenshot) on the old Pentium machine?

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 2:17 pm
by marmotta
johnnym wrote:
marmotta wrote:I think this, but I don't understand why this card work good with my old Pentium...

That's indeed strange. Because if that graphics card runs or ran on an old Pentium machine, shouldn't it also run with AlphaBIOS's x86 emulation?

Could you also see its VGA BIOS message (i.e. something similar to this screenshot) on the old Pentium machine?


No vga message, it jump direct to bios memory test. I have also tested the board with my Ibm PentiumPro but the screen remain black....

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:21 pm
by marmotta
The best way is flash the firmware of the board with a Dynamic Pictures v192 or 3dlabs oxygen v192 image... but I not able to find it or the software flasher :-(

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:21 pm
by johnnym
marmotta wrote:No vga message, it jump direct to bios memory test. I have also tested the board with my Ibm PentiumPro but the screen remain black....

It could also be that your display is not fast enough to show the VGA BIOS message. I wonder why it doesn't work with your Pentium Pro machine from IBM but with your Pentium machine.

The Owner's Guide for ZLXp-L1/2 mentions a VGA jumper on page 12 (or 6 inside of the PDF): "Enabling VGA allows the software to use the same monitor for VGA console display and for 3D graphics". Is this jumpered in position 1 (i.e. "enabled")? And does the graphics card's behaviour change, if you change its configuration?

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 12:16 am
by marmotta
johnnym wrote:
marmotta wrote:No vga message, it jump direct to bios memory test. I have also tested the board with my Ibm PentiumPro but the screen remain black....

It could also be that your display is not fast enough to show the VGA BIOS message. I wonder why it doesn't work with your Pentium Pro machine from IBM but with your Pentium machine.

The Owner's Guide for ZLXp-L1/2 mentions a VGA jumper on page 12 (or 6 inside of the PDF): "Enabling VGA allows the software to use the same monitor for VGA console display and for 3D graphics". Is this jumpered in position 1 (i.e. "enabled")? And does the graphics card's behaviour change, if you change its configuration?


I don't know the reason, but I sure it work, and I not have a post-bios message (I have a powered-on crt)

I have already tried this jumper and I have read the manual

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:16 am
by marmotta
I have a question: with another graphics board, for example the Powerstorm 4D60T, I can connect one monitor to vga connector and view all (VGA + 3D) or the two video out on the board are separate? (one for vga, and one for accelerated video)

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:43 am
by johnnym
marmotta wrote:I have a question: with another graphics board, for example the Powerstorm 4D60T, I can connect one monitor to vga connector and view all (VGA + 3D) or the two video out on the board are separate? (one for vga, and one for accelerated video)

According to the PowerStorm 4D40T/4D50T/4D51T/4D60T Graphics Options Owner's Guide one of the two ports (the one farer away from the stereo sync output) is a pass-through port - maybe similar to how 3dfx Voodoo2 graphics cards were used. The manual later (on page 47 or B-5) mentions that "The VGA input port allows connection of a separate VGA device for use by the system while in VGA mode.". As the card also has a VGA jumper, it might need to be disabled for another VGA card to be used on the pass-through port.

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 4:46 pm
by marmotta
johnnym wrote:
marmotta wrote:I have a question: with another graphics board, for example the Powerstorm 4D60T, I can connect one monitor to vga connector and view all (VGA + 3D) or the two video out on the board are separate? (one for vga, and one for accelerated video)

According to the PowerStorm 4D40T/4D50T/4D51T/4D60T Graphics Options Owner's Guide one of the two ports (the one farer away from the stereo sync output) is a pass-through port - maybe similar to how 3dfx Voodoo2 graphics cards were used. The manual later (on page 47 or B-5) mentions that "The VGA input port allows connection of a separate VGA device for use by the system while in VGA mode.". As the card also has a VGA jumper, it might need to be disabled for another VGA card to be used on the pass-through port.


Ok thanks! I think to buy this card... but now I have tried to install NT with s3 and zlxp-l2, but I have another problem..... winnt driver is impossible to find! (only intel version)

Re: Alphastation 500 strange issue

Posted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:02 am
by marmotta
With my pentium133 the board work good! :D

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