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3. ASUS-Boards

3.1 ASUS and the NMI (Parity) -- impact on Gravis-Ultrasound

The newer trition PCI-Mainboards in 1995 did not seem to support parity-SIMMS anymore. Since I usualy took the cheaper nonparity-SIMMS anyway, I did not consider this a problem until I put the Gravis-Ultrasound into my machine. Under DOS the SBOS-Driver and Setup/Test utility does complain about "nmi procedure disabled on this p.c.". The manual says I'd better get a better mainboard in that case, not very helpful.

The gravis-ultrasound did work nice in the ASUS-SP3 and ASUS-SP4, inspite of this, but the gravis-ultrasound-max I have here got gmod to kernel panic on both boards, and sometimes when playing au-files via /dev/audio did strange things, like playing the rest of an older, previously played sound after the new one. The sounddriver does recommend a buffer of 65536 with the GUS Max instead of the small one like the GUS - why I do not know. I do not have such a problem with the newer ASUS TP4 XE boards, though. Both are equipped with 1M DRAM onboard. These problems are probably not related to the NMI-problem, but because of the sounddriver?

I heard not only ASUS but most of the newer PCI-Mainboards are lacking in parity/NMI-support.

Strange enough - the ASUS-TP4 (Trition Chipset) does work with the GUS Max - it does load the SBOS-Driver. I have to admit, I am confused.

3.2 Various types of ASUS Boards

ASUS SP3 with saturn chipset I (rev. 2) for 486,

  • 2 x rs232 with 16550
  • NCR53c810 onboard,
  • slightly broken saturn-chipset I (rev. 2)

ASUS SP3G with saturn chipset II (rev. 4) for 486,

like SP3, but less buggy saturn chipset

ASUS SP3-SiS chipset, for 486

like AP4, but newer, SiS chipset, green functions and all the EIDE, rs232 with 2 16550 and centronics. Only 2 SIMM Slots, Does seem to work with AMD486DX4/120, but was not very reliably on NCR53c810 and various operating systems (Windows-NT, Windows95, OS2), after upgrading to a PentiumBoard ASUS SP4, all the problems vanished, so it must have been the board. Still does seem to work nice for Linux, though.

ASUS AP4, for 486, with PCI/ISA/VesaLocalbus

green functions, 1VL, 3 ISA, 4 PCI slots, only EIDE onboard, no fd-controller, no rs232/centronics. Very small size.

does recognice AMD486DX2/66 as DX4/100 only. This can be corrected with soldering one pin (which?) to ground, but I would not recommend a board like this anyway.

The one I tested was broken for OS2 and Linux, but people are said to use it for both.

The VesaLocalbus-Slot is expected to be slower than the normal vesa-localbus boards because of the PCI2VL bridge, but without penalty to the PCI section.

ASUS SP4-SiS, for Pentium90, PCI/ISA

like SP3-SiS, but for Pentium90/100.

ASUS TP4 with Triton chipset and EDO-Support

has the Triton-Chipset for better performance and supports normal PS2-Simms as well as Fast-Page-Mode and EDO modules.

ASUS TP4XE with Triton chipset and additional SRAM/EDORAM support

supports the new EDORAM and upcoming SRAM standards. At least SRAM is said to considerabely increase performance. Did for some reason not accept the 8M PS2-SIMMS working ok in ASUS SP4, after changing them against others, bigger looking ones, (16 chips instead of 8 if I remember right) it worked ok. Has been tested with P90 and P100.

...and many others now.

if you have new information on problems with them, please report.

3.3 Benchmarks on ASUS Mainboards

I tried to compare the speed of CPUs in two ASUS Mainboards: for 486 I tested the SP3 SiS (the one with one vesa-local-bus slot) and for 586 I tested the ASUS TP4/XE, each with 16M RAM, always the same unloaded system with another CPU, with whetstone and dhrystone.

I must admit, I have not read the benchmarks-faq yet, and will probably edit the section a loot soon. If you have any comments, please mail me.

I am especially confused about the amd486DX4/100 being faster on dhrystones than the DX4/120 version? I did not see that kind of inconsistency on comparing the P90 and P100.

Perhaps this was at fault: when I plugged in the amdDX4-100, I had the board jumpered for DX2-66. While the BIOS did report it as an DX4-100, the board might have used the wrong clockspeeds... but since DX2-66 uses 33Mhz * 2 and DX4 uses 33Mhz * 3, this would have been correct?

The board running with DX4-120 is jumpered to 40Mhz * 3 = 120 Mhz.

Another thing I wonder about is why the whetstones-result does yield so even numbers on some machines?

ASUS SP3 with amd486DX4-100

  • Dhrystone time for 500000 passes = 7 by 63559 dhrystones/second
  • Whetstone time for 1000 passes = 5 by 200.0000 Whetstones/second

ASUS SP3 with amd486DX4-120

  • Dhrystone time for 500000 passes = 8 by 56074 dhrystones/second
  • Whetstone time for 1000 passes = 4 by 250.0000 Whetstones/second

ASUS SP3 with intel486DX2-66

  • Dhrystone time for 500000 passes = 9 by 50761 dhrystones/second
  • Whetstone time for 1000 passes = 7 by 142.8571 Whetstones/second

ASUS TP4/XE with intel586-90

  • Dhrystone time for 500000 passes = 4 by 101010 dhrystones/second
  • Whetstone time for 1000 passes = 3 by 333.3333 Whetstones/second

ASUS TP4/XE with intel586-100

  • Dhrystone time for 500000 passes = 4 by 102040 dhrystones/second
  • Whetstone time for 1000 passes = 2 by 500.0000 Whetstones/second

3.4 Detailed information on the old ASUS PCI-I-SP3 with saturn chipset from

  • 3 PCI, 4 ISA Slots (3x16, 1x8 Bit)
  • ZIF Socket for the CPU
  • room for 4 72pin-SIMMs (max. 128M)
  • Award BIOS in Flash-Eprom
  • Onboard: NCR-SCSI, 1par, 2ser (with FIFO), AT-Bus, Floppy

The board does like most in that price class -- write-through cache, no write-back. This should not be significant, maybe 3% of performance.

The BIOS supports scsi-drives under DOS/Windows without additional drivers, but with the board come additional drivers which are said to give better performance, for DOS/Windows(ASPI), OS2, Windows-NT, SCO-Unix, Netware (3.11 and 4, if interpreted correctly)

Gert Doering ( was saying the SCO-Unix-driver for the onboard-SCSI-Chip was not working properly. After two or three times doing: "time dd if=/dev/rhd20 of=/dev/null bs=100k count=500" it kernel-paniced...

The trouble some people experienced with this board might be due to them using an outboard Adaptec-SCSI-Controller with "sync negotiation" turned on. (This predates the NCR driver release; hence the use of the Adaptec.) Please check that in the BIOS-Setup of the Adaptec-1542C if you use one and have problems with occasional hangups!

There is a new version of the ASUS-Board which should have definitely less problems. It is called ASUS-PCI-I/SP3G, the G is important. It has the new Saturn-chipset rev. 4 and the bugs should be gone. They use the Saturn-ZX-variant and the new SP3G has fully PCI conforming level-triggered (thus shareable), BIOS-configurable interrupts. It has an on-board PS/2-mouseport, EPA-power-saving-modes and DX4-support, too. It performs excellently. If you can get the German computer magazine C't from July (?), you will find a test report where the ASUS-Board is the best around.

Latest information about ASUS-SP3-G: You might experience crashes when using PCI-to-Memory-Posting. If you disable this, all works perfect. said he believed it to be a problem of the current Linux-kernel rather than the hardware, because part of the system still works when crashing, looking like a deadlock in the swapper, and OS2/DOS/WINDOZE don't crash at all.

Someone else with a very old ASUS-SP3 (saturn-I chipset) reported crashes with using XFree86, which went away when he installed the very latest betaversion which seems to work around a bit of the problems.

3.5 Pat Dowler (dowler@pt1B1106.FSH.UVic.CA) with ASUS SP3G

  • ASUS SP3G board (it is rev.4 == saturn II)
  • AMD DX4-100 CPU (need to set jumper 36 to 1&2 rather than 2&3, otherwise it's set the same as other 486DXn chips)
  • 256K cache (comes with 15ns cache :-)
  • 16meg RAM (2x8meg)
  • ET4000 ISA video card
  • quantum IDE hard drive
  • SMC Elitel16 combo ethernet card

Unlike some other reports, I find the mouse pointer moves very smoothy under X (just like the ol' 386) - it is jumpy under some, but not all, DOS games though...

Performance is great!! I ran some large floating point tests and found the performance in 3x33 (100MHz) mode to be almost 1.5x that in 2x (66MHz) mode (large being 500x500 doubles - 4meg or so)... I was a little dubious about clock-tripling but I seem to be getting full benefit :-)

The heavily configurable energy star stuff doesn't work with the current AMD DX4 chips - you need an SL chip

I really need a SCSI disk and a PCI video card :-)

(I had a phonecall by a person who had this problem with the buggy SMC FIFO chipset, after using X-window they hung.)

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