Posts Tagged ‘socket 7

06
Nov
15

Motherboard: EPoX EP-MVP4A

Just when you thought I had run out of Socket 7 boards here’s another one! Today’s mother board was made by the Taiwanese company EPoX who made value boards that were targeted towards the over-clocker and enthusiast market. Here’s an overview of the board.

EP-MVP4A

This board was made mid 1999, late in the life of the socket 7 standard. It would have probably carried an AMD, Cyrix or IBM chip, as Intel had already moved onto the Slot 1 standard at this time. Lets take a quick look at what features make this board different to the other socket 7 boards I’ve looked at so far.

Thermistor

Thermistor

One of the most obvious things is seen in the middle of the CPU socket. It’s a thermistor for measuring the CPU temperature. CPUs of the time didn’t have this feature built-in, so without this sensor an over-clocker would have to guess how hot their machine was running by touch or other means. This also proved useful for technicians to help determine if there was something wrong with the setup or thermal compound on the CPU. Unfortunately these sensors weren’t really all that accurate, but they were better than nothing.

Chassis Fan

Chassis Fan

Next I noticed that this board has connectors for a chassis fan. Of course these extra fans had been around for quite a while at this stage, and the connector for a year or so. This is a reflection of the significant increase in power consumption and heat generation in machines of the late 90’s. Although it wouldn’t get out of hand until much later (with P4 chips)

Jumpers

Jumpers

When you look at the configuration jumpers, you can tell it was designed with over-clockers in mind. Unlike other boards there is a simple and clear way to set the multiplier and bus speed. There is a single jumper which you use to select the speed option desired. Most other boards required you to decode a table and apply a number of jumpers correctly. Unfortunately this photo didn’t come out as clear as I would have liked.

VIA made the chipset for this board, they typically had fairly well performing chips, that had better, but not perfect software support. The south bridge chip has integrated sound and other basic peripherals, with a trident video chip integrated into the north bridge. On board video is connected internally via an AGP bus, but there is no standard AGP slot for an external card. This would have been limiting, as the PCI graphics cards that were still available would have been slower than the AGP counterparts.

From the perspective of a technician this board would have been quite easy to handle. The manual would have been unnecessary even the first time you set it up. The power connector is nice and close to a mounting hole, so you wouldn’t flex the board too much when connecting a stiff power connector.

For the end-user that really depends on what you wanted out of it. For most users it would have been as good as any other board, as long as the on-board graphics was good enough. the ease of CPU configuration would have suited over-clockers the most, but many of them would have preferred having an AGP slot in addition to the on-board graphics. Luckily PCI graphics cards were widely available at the time.

21
May
15

Motherboard: DataExpert TX531

This week I’m taking a look at the first of many socket 7 boards I have in my collection. The Socket 7 standard lasted a long time compared to most others because of the wide array of hardware support the chip-sets had for CPU and memory technology. The faster Super-Socket 7 even competed with the next generation of chip-sets from Intel, having comparable memory transfer speeds for quite some time. AMD and Cyrix both stuck with the Super Socket 7 for much longer.

Today’s board is actually my older brothers, one he bought in the first PC he bought for himself. It was an AMD K6 rated at 233Mhz equivalent speed, which wasn’t bad for when he bought it. There are a few things that set this board apart, it was made by a company called DataExpert (also known as ColorExpert) and the chip-set was made by Acer.

Judging by the date codes on the chips the board was made late 1997 or early 1998, which was very much a transitional time in terms of memory technology. SDRAM was taking over from the older 72-pin EDO and Fast Page RAM that was the staple of the late 486 and pentium machines. Many boards like this one included sockets for both, but almost all only allowed one type of memory be installed at a time. Unusually this board did allow both types to be installed at the same time, it was configured with 16Mb of each at purchase. Although this was un-documented.

I couldn’t find out much about the Acer chip-set, except that it is a clone of an Intel design. It doesn’t have much in the way of on-board hardware, just the usual storage controllers, serial, parallel and keyboard interfaces. There is some on board cache in the form of two UMC chips that make up the 512Kb pipeline burst cache.

Another interesting thing you don’t often see on digital electronics are the two glass-envelope style diodes shown here. I’m used to having seen these as a signal diode in a crystal set or basic AM radio, I’m sure that’s not the case here.

You’ll notice that the battery clip was broken, Dad accidentally did this late in this boards life when changing the cell. He installed this strip of metal as a kludge to keep the machine going for just a little longer.

In service we probably got at least 10 years (maybe a bit longer) out of this board. Which I think is pretty good considering the manufacturer! I did eventually find a manual for it, but DataExpert have long since disappeared. The manual is a bit hard to read as it suffers from engrish, but it does have the information you need for installing the board.

From the service technicians point of view it’s reasonably easy to work on, but not perfect. Setting the processor and bus speed is done via DIP switches, luckily there is a silk screen reference for these, but some details on some jumpers are absent from the silk-screen. You should be able to install and set this board up without the manual.

With information about this board scarce on the internet it’s hard to pass much more comment about it. Our example was reliable over it’s life-span, and performed reasonably for the tasks given to it at the time. It isn’t really all that remarkable really, there were many different manufacturers making Socket 7 boards of this standard and better. Perhaps that is why DataExpert isn’t around any more, they were crowded out of the market.




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Mister G Kids

A daily comic about real stuff little kids say in school. By Matt GajdoĊĦ

Random Battles: my life long level grind

completing every RPG, ever.

Gough's Tech Zone

Reversing the mindless enslavement of humans by technology.

Retrocosm's Vintage Computing, Tech & Scale RC Blog

Random mutterings on retro computing, old technology, some new, plus radio controlled scale modelling.

ancientelectronics

retro computing and gaming plus a little more

Retrocomputing with 90's SPARC

21st-Century computing, the hard way