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Crazy k6 3+ build

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 12:51 pm
by Sphere478
First off, thanks for the add. Thought I would share my build here. Look forward to your guys thoughts :-)

So this build needs a little bit of back story.
Back in 2004-2005 I came across a motherboard that I thought was pretty cool. At the time I was collecting socket 7 chips for fun and decided to try and put some of them to use in this board.
The board in question was the iWill p55xb2
I thought it was cool for having 5 pci slots, and support for AT, ATX power supplies, and both SIMMs and DIMMs anyway, I found a old ibm aptiva case and ripped the front panel off of it cause I thought it looked better without it! haha!
Anyway. I started to use it as a network file sharing computer, then got the idea to do what all the cool kids were doing and record my tv shows with it. At the time It was running I think 128mb of ram? And a p1 233mmx windows 2k and probably some 2D pci video card.
So it was time for some upgrades!
First of course I bought a tuner (then later a second for dual show recording)
Next on the docket was windows media center edition (windows xp)
Upgraded the ram to 256mb of sd ram
And finally, I went on ebay and found a k6-2+ 550 after talking to jan Steunebrink who runs the k6 upgrade website which is still live as of writing this in 2021. He was so awesome as to modify my bios to support the new cpu and it worked flawlessly! Next of course I was optimizing the heck out of the OS lots of disabled services. And finally I got a nice video card for it. At first a 6200 pci, then later on a x1300 if I recall?
But you know what after all was said and done, that socket 7 board was flying! It was recording two shows at once, sharing them on lan and even playing them on the old crt I had attached to it! I ran it like this for maybe a year, I’m not sure. Eventually around that time they switched over to digital signals or something rather and honestly I’m not sure despite my deepest pondering what happened to many of the parts from that computer. So far the only part that I have been able to recover from the original build is the 6200. A fiend of mine may have the cpu still but I haven’t heard back on that yet.
Anyway, fast forward to today. I’ve been wanting to put together a retro rig to play some old games (some of which I played on that computer in fact. halo, stratosphere, sim city 2000, etc of course as you know today’s computers don’t run the hardware/software that those games liked back in the day. And the thing some of my games really liked was windows 98se.
So my build formed a direction, continue the spirit of my old socket 7 build by getting a motherboard that can run socket 7 and a k6 2/3+ And modify the piss out of the poor bastard!
So my search began. At the time of beginning the search I remembered very little of the original specifics like part numbers etc.
I started scouring old posts I made online around that time on google until I found a reference to the specs. Boom! P55xb2 was the motherboard! Sweet!
Checked ebay, and to my surprise, a few were for sale. Next I started searching for someone to help me mod the bios, and guess what I found after a little searching! Not only was jan’s page still up which blew my mind (btw, I didn’t remember his name but when I stumbled across the page it all came back to me) but there on his page was the very bios he had helped me make and I had beta tested for him! I instantly downloaded it! Lol! Take no chances.. afterward I promptly shot over to ebay and clicked buy on a motherboard on the literal other side of the planet haha
So the build was alive!! It’s happening!
Now, what next?! There was so many things to get for it, and I was convinced to go as weird as I could get with this build haha! Just like the original build, screw period correct! 😈
So naturally, (prepare for laugh) I thought to myself it’s gonna need some modern kick in the pants help to squeeze some more performance. So why not SSD, in fact why not M.2 NVME on a pci to pci express on a pci express to m.2 adapter? muahaha!!
And that’s just the tip of the madness. ready? Let’s go!
Next up, gonna need a bios supported boot loader drive to find that m.2 and boot to it cause it can’t by it’s self . Why not use one of those tiny compact flash hard drives plugged dirrectly into the motherboard ide plug?
While I’m at it, I don’t want the other Ide plug to go to waste, so let’s plug a two port sata adapter into it!
Next up, gonna need some connectivity!
Ordered some pins to invert the usb header on the motherboard so a normal 2.0 usb header bracket could be used..🤔 ... eh too mundane! Pci to usb 3.0 card also!!
Next up, cpu!! So I was browsing Ebay and happened across a k6 2+ 570 which is super rare! So needless to say. Snagged that sumbich quick. But then the craziness struck again.. :,( browsing a few days later and there it was! The holy grail of socket 7 chippyness the coveted k6 III+ 550 in all it’s glory! And unfortunately that jerk seller knew what they had :,( yeah I got raped. But I got it! :p
So now I needed ram! And of course I couldn’t be bothered with plane jayne pc100 sticks! No no! Found some 256mb 18 chip ecc registered pc133 sticks. (And some regular ones as backup for when those don’t work and make that just one for when more than 256mb doesn’t work 🤣) point is I’m trying them! Lol
Now I’m Gonna need to cool the cpu.. 🤔 copper would be nice! enter the P3 cooler!!! In fact I remember eyeing this cooler up for the old build back in the day 🤣. (but Wait, too vanilla. Possible peltier being added to build soon.😁) I did also order a fancy rgb fan for it so far! But as of yet no peltier It’s worth noting that I actually passively cooed the original build. So all of this is totally without merit 🤣
Next the case! Going to need one of those.
Or do i🤔 the madness hasn’t stopped yet? Why stop now? Let’s build it on a space frame test bench!
One of the few parts I had laying around was a psu. When I got the “case” I checked it out and decided that mess of wires just won’t do. Time for a modular power supply. And that too has now come to pass for my pentium one motherboard build haha! But in honor of the original cpu cooler this psu is passively cooled! :p
Of course we can’t forget the sound card!!
Back in the day I had the beast of all sound cards the auzentech 7.1 x-fi pci prelude
Naturally, this socket 7 build needs one😂
I’m trying to track down my old one atm still
I guess that leaves the gpu. This has been a difficult call, and in fact I think I may run two.
On one hand I want one that supports glide, on the other I want one that supports windows 98 and on the third mutant arm/foot/hand combination limb sprouting out of my back I want the literal baddest ass card I can fit into it for some of the more modern games I’m going to humorously attempt to run on this poor socket 7 motherboard.
In benchmarks I’m seeing that it looks like the best pci gfx card for some older games is the geforce 5500 but the best ever seems to be the gt610 from zotec (though I’ve heard rumors of a 730?) I’m leaning toward these two cards (at once maybe, and using one in windows 98 and the other in windows xp or windows 7 with a glide wrapper.
Which brings me to what OS I intend to use. Don’t worry, I aim to astonish. None other than windows ME may actually be my windows 98 games platform because wtf, why not at this point amirite? Of course dual (triple) booted by ubuntu and windows 7 starter. It seemed back in the day I put linux on nearly every computer I had at one point in time. So this one is definitely getting it. As for windows 7 I want to try and run something modernish on it. I’m told that windows 8.0 may be the latest that will even install, and 8.1 is out cause of hardware instructions.
So getting these to run slow shouldn’t be too much of a problem right? Well not doing that is gonna be the trick! My ace in the hole for that is ram!!! Duh, but don’t worry. I’m gettin weird with it yet again!
I give you the gigabyte I ram drive!!! (Ethereal awwwing) this is where I will nestle my page file, swap file. To get at it as fast as possible it may get it’s own pci to sata card or pci to ata133 card with the sata to ide adapter in it I will aslo be attempting to use combinations of simms and dimms at the same time (believe it or not many boards support this to my surprise)in a likely futile attempt to break the 256mb limit of the tx chipset. I’ll also be trying it with motherboard cache disabled since with the k6 3+ it’s supposed to be faster and may help the memory problem. Also the registered dimms may help. (I’m trying everything) back in the day I failed to get past 256 but I’m trying again.
Anyway. As of time of post I have about 3/4 of the parts ready and as soon as the board gets here I’ll start testing and figuring out what if not anything about my plan stands the test of operating system install and driver setup.
Wish me luck!

Post some cool ideas or add ons if you have ideas!

https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=78663

Re: Crazy k6 3+ build

Posted: Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:11 am
by ctgeorge99
Sphere,
Thanks for posting your plans on a 'new' build! I am replying nearly a month past your original post so hopefully you are pretty far along in the slow and sometimes frustrating process of resurrecting old technology and finding the right mix of hardware, setting, bios, and software . . . especially when mixing with some new technologies like an m.2 SSD. I do not want to discourage you from pursuing these . . . mostly for the selfish reason of being curious how successful you are in this venture, but here are some thoughts from 20+ years with operating (still pretty frequently) cpus:
The K6 is in my humble opinion a fantastic CPU for its day . . . and while I will not let mine die, it is now relegated to being a platform for old software/gaming with internet only for microtorrent and home networking and printing.
-The K6 CPUs do not have SSE2 . . . this is the limiting factor in ability to use a modern internet browser (which all utilize SSE2 (and now SSE3) instructions and using old browsers severely limits the number of websites you can still visit . . . even with Windows 7 and/or KernelEx and other 'software' cheats).
-While I am eager to see how you make out it in getting an M.2 SSD working . . . you speed will be restricted by the PCI bus bandwidth (33Mhz x 32bit=133MB/s). On my VA-503+ with a Promise ATA 100 in a PCI slot (133 theoretically would provide a bit of additional benefit) my SSD drives provide a bit better read performance than my conventional hard drives, but interestingly actually a bit slower max write speeds than the conventional drives.
-I am not familiar with your chosen motherboard, but a quick search showed that it appears to be limited to 66Mhz with a 4.5X CPU multiplier (maybe there are more setting than what I found on the couple of websites I found for it?). With either K62+ 570 or K63+ 550, I think you would have CPU overkill for the board (Great finds by the way! Yes I would like to buy these off you, but that is not why I am telling you saying this!). This whole line may not be correct though, because the websites I looked at also showed that that board would not support the low voltages need for the K6plus cpus . . . and if that were true, why would Jan have made a bios to support that board.
-CPU cooler . . . your board layout is probably what will limit what cooler you can mount (nearby cards and capacitors). I have run my CPU at a higher voltage for almost 20 years . . . it doesn't really get that hot in comparison to other things on my motherboard that are overclocked the K6plus cpus run pretty cool (per thermal camera)
-Take a good look at the capacitors on your board for any signs of swelling or leaking . . . a bunch of companies started to make cheap capacitors in that timeframe . . . caps can cause all sorts of problems even when the board appears to be working. Even good caps eventually 'dry out' causing them to fail to filter and deliver clean power and signals over time.
-For your setup, I recommend a dual boot system; however, due to the lack of SSE2 coding on the K6plus CPUs . . . I am not sure that Windows 7 gives you anything that you can not get with win98SE (or Win98SEME from MGDX which I recommend) and KernelEx. The Windows install will run into drivers issues for some of your old hardware (I got my system with ISA cards working with generic drivers, but sometimes this is a less optimized than specific drivers). There are some 'tiny' versions of Windows 7 that you may need if you are limited to 256MB of RAM. However, I would recommend the original 32bit version if you can install it.
Please post your findings! Really excited to see someone else using this old info and trying some new things (m.2 SSD). Can't wait to see what your CPUs can do!

Re: Crazy k6 3+ build

Posted: Tue Nov 02, 2021 11:28 pm
by Sphere478
hello!

well the biggest issue I encountered was computable pci graphics cards.. it seems the mest reliable card I found was the pci 6200 despite trying literally every late model card, seriously I ended up with a stack of like 20 cards lol

I got the iram working

I used a promise sata II 300 tx4 it proved to be the fastest storage method for this board when paired with any ssd really

I used a audigy 2 zs for 9x compatibility

I got debian jessie and fedora 11? working on it

I got windows 7 working on it I needed to update the bios for acpi support and do a 256mb hack on the install cd

256mb was the max ram

the iram and ram speeds were quite close to one another so in reality I had over 4gb of ram counting the page file lol

256mb of ram proved little issue for windows 7

windows 7 was slow though

i got the cpu working at 1.6v 450mhz 75fsb

I even was able to dig into undocumented settings on the clock gen

the clock gen supports 83mhz non synchronous but when I short pins to activate that the board does not boot I did confirm the pin trick was working by using that pin to activate a setting I was otherwise unable to set with jumpers

256mb was the max that the board could support I found instances of others getting 384 to show up but itwas a glitch, only 256mb was usable with unique data. it would fool memtest sometimes though and it would say it was fine because memtest uses non unique data

I als ended up getting a killer nic pci for it but haven't used it much using this rig for torrent might be a good use

yes you are correct unfortunately the days of being able to browse on a k6 are long over to anyone reading this you can forget web browsing, you can make 7 work but xp ended up being more useful

windows me seemed to actually be less buggy than 98se on this setup

ultimately I ended up just installing windows xp on it

and finally yes, the m.2 tp pcie to pci did indeed work in debian but unfortunately on a pci adapter it seems to run in some sort of horrible PIO mode we're talking kbps.

there is hope though. use a sata m.2 on a promise sata II 300 tx4 and that should work wonders. I haven"t tried it but I'm pretty sure it would work. I 'm just using a regular old ssd