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10. General tips for PCI-Motherboard + Linux NCR PCI SCSI

This was compiled by Angelo Haritsis ( from various people's postings:

10.1 DON'Ts:

Do *NOT* go for combination VLB/PCI motherboards. They usually have a lot of problems. Get a plain PCI version (with ISA slots as well of course). A lot of bad things have been heard about OPTI chipset PCI motherboards. Someone hints: "Avoid the OPTi (82C596/82C597/82C822) chipset based motherboards like the TMC PCI54PV".

(I know of at least one person having no problems with his TMC PCI54PV motherboard. He just had to put the NCR53c810 addonboard into slot-A which is the only slot capable of busmastering as it seems.)

Rumours say that Intel chipset PCI motherboards will have problems with more than one bus-mastering PCI board. I have not tried this one yet on mine and have nothing to suggest. I also heard that the Saturn II chipset is problematic, but this is the one I use and it is perfectly ok! Advice: Try to negotiate a 1-2 week money back agreement with your supplier, in case the motherboard you get has problems with the use you plan for it.

10.2 SIMM slots

Go for 72-pin only SIMMs for speed: Some (all?) of the mainboards which take 30 pin SIMMs use a 32 bit main memory interface, and will be significantly slower than the Intel based boards which all use a 64 bit or permantly interleaved memory interface. You might want to keep that in mind.

10.3 Praised PCI Pentium motherboard

The P90 Intel motherboard with the Intel Premiere II chipset (aka Plato). Get the latest BIOS which has concatenated NCR scsi BIOS 3.04.00. Otherwise DOS won't see your scsi disk(s) if you use a BIOS-less 53c810 based controller. NCR SCSI BIOS exists in the AMI BIOS of the plato after version 1.00.08 (or maybe verion 1.00.06). This BIOS is FLASH upgradeable so you should be able to get the upgrade on a floppy from your supplier. The current version is 1.00.10 and has all early problems fixed.

(Bios files should be available at, but I did not check that myself. the Autor.)

10.4 irq-lines

The value in the interrupt line PCI configuration register is usually set manually (for compatability with legacy ISA boards) in the extended CMOS setup screens on a per-slot or per-device basis. Older PCI mainboards also force you to set jumpers for each PCI slot/device which select how PCI INTA and perhaps INTB, INTC, and INTD are mapped to an 8259 IRQ line, Obviously, if these jumpers exist on your board, they must match the settings in the extended CMOS setup. Also note that some boards (notably Viglens) have silkscreens and instruction manuals which disagree with the wiring, and some experimentation may be in order.

10.5 Info about the different NCR 8xx family scsi chips:

All NCR 8XX Chips are dircet connect PCI bus mastering devices, that have no preformance difference wether on motherboard or add in option card. All devices comply with PCI 2.0 Specification, and can burst 32 bit data at the full 33 MHz (133Mbytes/Sec)


53C810 = 8 bit Fast SCSI-2 (10 MB/Sec) Single ended only Requires Integrated Mother board BIOS 100 pin Quad Flat Pack (PQFP) Worlds first PCI SCSI Chip, Volumes make it the most inexpensive.


53C815 = 8 bit Fast SCSI-2 (10 MB/Sec) Single Ended only Support ROM BIOS interface, which makes it ideal for add-in card Designs. 128 Pin QFP


53C825 = 8 bit Fast SCSI-2, Single ended or Differential 16 bit Fast SCSI-2 (20 MB/Sec), Single ended or Differetial Also has support for external Rom, making it a good candidate for add in cards. 160 pin QFP Not supported by linux yet. (See section below on news about the 825). Must have devices with wide or differential scsi to use these features.

10.6 future of 53c8xx

There are 4 new devices planned for announcement late this year and into early next year. Footprint compitible with 810 and 825 with some new features.

All the Chips require a BIOS in DOS/Intel applications. The 810 is the only chip that needs it resident on the motherboard. Latest NCR SCSI BIOS version: 3.04.00 The bios supports disks >1GB, indeed up to 8G under MS-LOSS.

10.7 Performance of the 53c810

C't magazine's DOS benchmarks showed that it was significantly faster than the Buslogic BT-946, one user noted a 10-15% performance increase versus an Adaptec 2940, and with a very fast disk it may be 2.5X as fast as an Adaptec 1540.

10.8 News about NCR53c825 support

works. period.

10.9 Frederic POTTER ( about Pentium+NCR+Strap_bug

On some Intel Plato board, the NCR bios doesn't recognize the board, because it needs to see the board as a "secondary SCSI controller", and because on most SCSI board the jumper to select between primary/secondary has been ironed to primary (to spare 1 cent, presumably).


near the NCR chip, they are 3 via ( kind of holes ) with a strap like 
                O--O  O

        this mean primary is selected as default setting. For the Plato Intel 
        Mainboard, it should be like that

                O  O--O

        The best solution is to get rid of the strap and to put a 2 position 
        jumper instead.

10.10 PCIprobe in the latest Linux Kernels by Frederic Potter

Frederic Potter has added a PCI-Probe into the latest kernels. If you do a "cat /proc/pci" it should list all your cards. If you own cards which are not properly recogniced, please contact him via mail as "".

See arch/i386/kernel/bios32.c and include/linux/pci.h in the kernel source for more information on PCI-Probe-Stuff.

10.11 Other PCI Devices

What other PCI-cards are supported? Apart from various graphicscards, I would like to know about other cards like ethernet, framegrabber, or the TSET boards Cyclades is about to beta-test at the moment:

Cyclades: a 16-port PCI RISC-based multiport card.

The product is called Cyclom-Ye, and has the following characteristics:

  • PCI host card based on the PLX chip-set. This host card supports 8 to 32 serial ports, utilizing 8 or 16-port external boxes.
  • SCSI II cable.
  • 8 or 16-port external boxes with RJ45 or DB25 connectors (your choice). You can start with 8 ports and expand to 32, by just adding more boxes. Each external box contains 2 or 4 CD-1400 RISC Serial controllers (each CD-1400 controls 4 serial ports).
  • Up to 4 Host cards can be installed in the PC system, allowing a maximum of 128 serial ports per system.

The product is being in the beta-test phase at July the 26th, 1995, and should be available by Octobre or something. eMail them at

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