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M571 Motherboard Upgrades, finally upgrading the M571 based winasm terminal I have been using.

SeaFarer
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The PcChips M571 AT/ATX motherboard truly is a workhorse!

It also happens to be the same PC I have used for learning 32bit Assembly and participating in the winasm.net forums with since I started here.

Running now for over 5 years with an over-clocked Intel Pentium 200 MMX cpu at 225mhz after being salvaged from trash day back in 2003, it is now finally time to update to a PII 300 or PII 500 mmx compatible processor.

In simple speak... a major upgrade in terms of speed and extra power to this durable hard worker of a system.

Besides learning assembly here at winasm.net, this system has been used to design lots of graphics, edit audio, play simple card games, playback mp3's, browse the web, burn CD's, and also double as somewhat of an office computer for forms, documents, labels, and spreadsheets.

This particular motherboard has definately been put to the test so far, both with dial-up for most of this time and now DSL for just a few short months.

Now over the last year I have managed to rescue some additional parts that should work after researching the specifications. Here are just some of them...

• 128MBx2 DIMMs SDRAM for 256MB (currently using 32MBx2 EDO SIMMs 64MB total)

• 100MB Iomega Zip Drive. (perfect for winasm backups)

• At least a dozen Fixed disks. (4GB up to 20GB)

• A 100Mbps Linksys PCI LAN card. (currently 10Mbps 3com)

• Extra fans, cases, etc.


As it stands the M571 board has an excellent reputation for running K6 & K6/2 processors from AMD.

During my parts gathering over this last year I have found both an AMD K6/2 350 3dNow and AMD K6/2 500 3dNow. Either one should work but the later has not been as thoroughly tested. Plus I have a tube of heat-sink compound now too.

I also have a spare M571 and can finally apply shoorick's advice on how-to reprogram the original BIOS chip without the use of an EEPROM programmer.

Likewise I can test with confidence the various OEM BIOS ROM image updates, as well as some end-user patched ones I found while scouring the internet, without crippling my system permanently.

Some time ago while experimenting I crippled the original BIOS chip after moding some string data in the original ROM image with a Hex Editor and re-flashing it for testing and experience. Thankfully I had the spare M571.

The only complaint I have is that when salvaged, this PC never had the header bracket for the built-in audio & midi ports. A creative labs 16bit ISA card was used instead.

Luckily though the USB header bracket was being used. This allows for a PS/2 mouse, 2 USB ports, and an IR port.

Needless to say a Creative Labs PCI card was substituted for 4.1 audio back in 2003. But it would just be nice to have the header bracket for a complete M571.

One thing I am still trying to scrounge up though is a PCI 3d video card with 8MB or 16MB of RAM to extend the usability of the PC even more. Mainly as an upgrade from the built-in video which shares up to 4MB of system memory. Something that should help improve video playback.


In summary...

This should be an interesting project and experience. It will also seriously improve the speed of this old bucket. I will post an update to my success or failure later on.

In the meantime Wiki has great articles on AMD K6 series, and other, processors, plus you can also learn more about the M571 here...

The M571 website...


Below is a photo of this version of the M571(3.2a)...

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shoorick
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nice stuff :) my first after-386 PC was exactly K6-266 :) it still (i hope) alive with 64 Mb RAM (situated at our out-of-city house :) - not been used long time)
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SeaFarer
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Well shorick, if there is anything you are looking for let me know.

I do not have much parts, but I am always finding something that someone else wants to throw away or has set out on the curb for refuse or recycling.

Anyhow...

Besides getting great information at the M571 website on upgrading to an AMD K6/2 series 3dNow processor, I ran across another great site for anyone else tinkering around and doing upgrades to one of these older type motherboards.

Its the CpuShack at http://www.cpushack.net/. The site is a Microprocessor Technology Museum Featuring over 35 Years of CPU's and EPROM's.

The catalog there was perfect for looking up the K6/2-500-AFX processor I intend on testing and using if it works. Here are the specifications the site provided and a detailed photo of this cpu...

QUOTE
AMD K6/2-500-AFX

Manufacturer: Adavnced Micro Devices
Model: AMD-K6-2/500AFX
Speed: 500MHz
Type: K6-2

Data Code: 0003
Introduced: 1998

Transistors: 9.3 Million
Package: 321 Ceramic SPGA w/ Heatspreader

Process: 0.25 Micron
Architecture: 32 bit CISC translated to RISC86 w/ 3D Now!

Bus: 100MHz
Temperature Spec: 65C

Used in: Personal and Small Business Computer Systems


Description:

The K6-2 was based on the Nexgen 686. AMD bought Nexgen and used there  RISC86 core which allowed much higher speeds then the old K5 core. The K6-2 is merely an enhanced K6. It included 3d Now! which is 21 addictional instructions
for FPU intensive tasks.

It scaled in speed from 200MHz to over 550Mhz Extending the life of the socket 7 platform by several years. It was also made in mobile and embedded versions (lower voltage and higher temperature tolerance.). It also used busses from 66-100Mhz.

Starting with the 400, a new core was released. The 'CXT' core was faster and more efficient in its caching routines.


Incidentally... both Wikipedia and the AMD .PDF datasheet I found with Google both stated that AMD K6/2 3dNow processors are equivalent to Intel Pentium II processors. Back in the day it was introduced to directly compete with the Pentium II and helped AMD bring us the Athlon series of cpu's.

Here is the what the AMD-K6-2/500AFX looks like...

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ragdog
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Good moooorning

Lol my first pc was a amd k6 B)
and now have i a AMD Athlon XP 2400+
I use this many years and i 'm so happy with it

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SeaFarer
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Hi ragdog,

Athlon XP 2200 very good as well. Sea built a system for later on that run very sweet with a hybrid of Windows 98 Second Edition.

As for this winasm.net terminal project...

Seems I need to scrounge up that video card mentioned or even a 4MB PCI video card before having any hope of using the SDRAM I have found.

Apparently the M571 only allows DIMM sockets 0 & 1 to be used if the on-board SVGA video option is disabled. This method also allows SIMM 3 & 4 to be used at the same time if even more memory is desired.

So long as I can squeeze at least 96MB onto the board there should be some noticable improvement which is really all I care about.

Other than this issue everything looks like a go.

All-in-all a new CPU, RAM, and a second physical fixed disk for virtual memory will make a huge difference in performance.
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