Black Viper
Black Viper
Jul 182001
 

Introduction

As an intro and sort of disclaimer, I would like to say that I “prefer” Asus boards.

I also like boards with “Intel” chipsets… Why, you ask?

First off, I have been running Asus motherboards as far back as I can remember. They are generally of high quality and very stable, even in the most rigorous of environments. I am also under the impression that Intel should know best how to interface their processors to the other devices you may decide to install on a mother board. Since the chipset is the heart of the system (the CPU being the “brain”), I feel that Intel has one up on other companies in the chipset arena.
After all of that is said and done, I am not “slamming” this motherboard and trying to discount the stability of Asus and VIA’s endeavor! Mainly because I really like this board and the potential that it offers to people at a relatively LOW price!

The purpose of this?

I am getting some of this information (and misinformation) down because I have recently received numerous E-Mails about this board from people either having problems or just asking compatibility questions. Under normal circumstances, I usually only get the “bad” E-Mails or E-Mails asking how to “fix” a problem that has been encountered. I rarely get an E-Mail that says “Oh, yeah, everything works great! Just thought I would let you know!”

Since there is little information that I have found wandering around the net on this particular mother board, I will try and intercept the different compatibility issues and thoughts about this board before the send button is pressed…if you have any further information, please feel free to contact me, but make sure that you are fully aware that I neither work for these companies, nor am a engineer in the biz…just a power user and a hardware freak having a great time with new equipment that I come across.

Now, on with the show!

Operating System

As you should already know, this mother board has the capability of “dual CPU’s” or Symmetric Multi Processing (SMP). Furthermore, no OS uses these capabilities other than Windows NT/2000 and Linux SMP kernals (to avoid the hate mail, I am sure there is more than this…but it is beyond this article) Thus, you will see NO difference in performance while running Win95/98/Me with this board and 2 CPU’s installed! I have not installed a flavor of Linux on this board to be able to test compatibility with such systems, but I have used it with WinMe and Win2k!

Configuration One:

  • Dual Pentium III 1 GHz
  • Asus CUV4X-D
  • v1007 BIOS
  • v4.28 4in1 driver
  • 1 GB PC-133 Memory
  • Elsa GeForce 2 Ultra 64 MB
  • nVidia v12.41 drivers
  • 3com 905C-TX-M 10/100 NIC
  • Sound Blaster Live 5.1
  • Live!Ware 3
  • Windows 2000 SP1

Stability, I found was fine. Never once did I have to reboot due to glitches or plain old fruitiness associated with Windows in general. What I did find was the Sound Blaster Live! card gave me massive problems (discussed later on in the “SBLIVE!” part of this article). What I did tend to feel was that the hard drive access was slower than “normal.” After cruising through VIA’s web site, I found that that was a “known” issue and Win2k SP2 would fix the UDMA/ATA100 problems. Another known issue was the “IDE Large file copying corruption” bug. I transfer large amounts of information around on my home network and never encountered this particular problem…

Configuration Two:

  • Single Pentium III 1 GHz
  • Asus CUV4X-D
  • v1007 BIOS
  • v4.28 4in1 driver
  • 512 MB PC-133 Memory
  • eVGA GeForce 2 32 MB tv out
  • nVidia v12.41 drivers
  • 3com 905C-TX-M 10/100 NIC
  • Sound Blaster Live
  • Live!Ware 3
  • Windows Me

This also worked just fine for me. I did not experience any unusual lock ups, nor problems that I previously was tortured with using SMP and SBLIVE! After letting the boards settle for a few weeks and allow the manufactures to “discover” compatibility problems, I decided to give it another shot in the last few days…

Configuration Three:

  • Dual Pentium III 1 GHz
  • Asus CUV4X-D
  • v1010 BIOS
  • v4.32 4in1 driver
  • 1 GB PC-133 Memory
  • Elsa GeForce 2 Ultra 64 MB
  • nVidia v12.41 drivers
  • 3com 905C-TX-M 10/100 NIC
  • Sound Blaster Live 5.1
  • Win2k WDM default driver
  • Windows 2000 SP2

This configuration, I have so far found, has no major problems…except what will be discussed in later sections. The “UDMA/ATA100” accessing problems seem to have been fixed, either with the BIOS update, the SP2 update, or the v4.32 4in1 update…which one it is, I have no real clue…but it works…why over analyze? 🙂

Using the SBLive WDM default Win2k drivers did not cause the SBLive problem to resurface…but once again, more information in the next section.

UPDATE: July 28, 2001 @ 9:54 PM PST

After installing WinXP RC1 on Configuration Three, I checked up on the previous SBLive! problems and it seems that there is no cause for alarm…The SBLive works just fine and, so far, I have not found any problems with it! Stay tuned…

I did seem to have troubles with my USB IntelliMouse Optical. It was tracking VERY erratically upon first install/boot up and I could not find any settings that would change that fact (as in the BIOS setting of “Legacy USB support,” etc) but after returning it to the PS/2 port, everything works fine…

UPDATE: August 7, 2001 @ 5:44 PM PST

After installing WinXP RC2 on Configuration Three, I checked up on the previous USB IntelliMouse Optical. I just plugged it in to the USB port as I had done before and it works wonderfully. Looks as if Microsoft DOES fix stuff… 🙂

UPDATE: August 16, 2001 @ 3:39 AM PST

After searching high and low for a solution to the crashing of Windows XP on Configuration Three, I found out that if you keep “Video BIOS Shadowed” to ENABLED, it will STOP all of the crashes with “nt4disp.dll.” It was crashing at least twice per day at the desktop. I also knew it was not a nVidia problem cause it crept into another one of my computers using the “810” as the graphics basis.

Sound Blaster Live!

Another disclaimer: I love the SBLIVE! I feel that Creative is the standard and of the amount of SB cards on the planet and there should be NO problems being able to get this card to work. I am sure that SOMEONE has
the EXACT same configuration that you are having problems with and that manufactures should KNOW that plenty of people will find issues sooner or later.

Many moons ago, I had issues with the AWE64 and a Matrox card. At that time, that was THE configuration (best of the best) and one game that was released crashed after 15 minutes…like clockwork! After a few months, a patch was released that ONLY fixed the “Matrox and AWE64 configuration crash problem.” Did NO beta tester have this configuration?!?

Configuration One:

I found early on that their was an “issue” with FlaskMPEG. Every so often, a “pop” or “crackle” would come from the speakers. I did not really care much at the time, cause I was just fooling around with the idea of DVD ripping and not really serious about it since it still took WAY to long to encode a DVD and that v0.6 was NOT using SMP to the fullest that it could. I was not concerned. Then came Diablo 2. I find Diablo 2 to be a great game and have a blast playing it…until upon loading it up, after a few minutes a LOUD screeching/squall would emanate from my speakers! Ow…what a fluke! Then it started getting worse…I even loaded up the game and did NOT move my character and after only a few minutes, (MAX 10) the screeching would be there…

I disabled “3D” sound, reinstalled drivers, changed IRQ’s, swapped a SBLIVE! Value, SBLIVE! “normal” and returned to the SBLIVE! 5.1. Finally, I stood on one foot holding a glass of water…nothing would fix this problem! I wandered to Blizzards web site to see if any new support issues have cropped up. Nothing! I went to Creative to check up if there is any new drivers…No, but there was an interesting blurb about SMP and the SBLIVE!:

Quoted from Creative’s FAQ:

“Does “Live!Ware 3.0 for Windows 2000” support SMP?

A. Although it is not a supported feature, “Live!Ware for Windows 2000″ will work on multiple processor systems
running Windows 2000. However, some users with Live!Ware 3.0 for Windows 2000 have been experiencing difficulties with various
Direct Sound and EAX applications using SMP systems. Creative has verified this situation and is currently researching possible
solutions for future Live!Ware releases.”

WHEN?!?! Released for WinXP?!?! Thanks for the help…sheesh…

Anyway, since Diablo 2 was the ONLY game I was playing at the time (and still) I tore down my Dual Configuration to build Configuration number two:

Configuration Two:

This, after some testing, gave me NO problems with sound! Great, but this configuration was also a spare computer running Diablo 2 as a LAN server/storage character and not my “main” system. My main configuration has about the same hardware, running WinMe, but with an Asus CUSL2-C board.

Further wanderings around the net, gave me some insight into the SBLive!/SMP problem…a fix? Don’t use Live!Ware 3! Go figure…

Since WinXP RC1 CD is almost here, I thought that since I am going to wax my drive anyway, I would give the SMP configuration another try. Thus, Configuration Three came about:

Configuration Three:

This developed into no problems! Diablo 2 runs great, UDMA100 kicks ass (and even reports it in the “system” properties tabs/sheets). In general, I am pretty satisfied with the out come of the new drivers.

I have NOT reinstalled Live!Ware 3. I am planning on doing that right BEFORE I put a clean install of WinXP on the system…hell, why not? I am going to clean it anyway and if it DOES work, I can report that to the 3 people that visit this site.

Something to take note of: With the WDM drivers, the mixer settings seem to be kind of funky. One thing is there is no “digital CD” options. Another is the bass and treble settings default to the far left (I am normally running them in the middle) and even at that state, there seems to be major distortion with bass. That may not be a concern for those of you running “PC speakers” but the audio nuts in the audience may take that into consideration… cause it is obvious with a stereo system hooked up to the card.

UPDATE: July 28, 2001 @ 9:54 PM PST

I attempted to install LiveWare3 on Configuration Three before I waxed the drive for WinXP, but it would NOT install properly. AudioHQ would NOT work and it was reporting missing DLL files all the time. Needless to say, I was not really pleased, but since I was on my way to waxing for WinXP RC1, I smiled and rebooted…

After installing WinXP RC1 on Configuration Three, I checked up on the previous SBLive! problems and it seems that there is no cause for alarm…The SBLive works just fine and, so far, I have not found any problems with it! A good thing, though, is that the SBLive! (WDM) drivers supported 3D SOUND in Diablo 2! I was rather surprised to say the least, about that one!
Stay tuned…

Memory Bandwidth/SETI

I have been running SETI for over a year now and I am pretty much hooked on it. So, a lot of my tweaking thoughts revolve around a process that I have over 4+ years of CPU time in!

Configuration One:

While using this configuration, there seemed to be a bandwidth problem…I will explain…

Normally, a SETI work unit on a 1 GHz system will complete, on average, between 6 hours and 7 hours. On the Dual system with each processor running a separate copy of SETI, each CPU would take 9 hours! Now, you might think that that is acceptable, after all, a single CPU system would take 12 hours to complete 2 work units (6 + 6 = 12), but with the Dual system, 2 work units would take 18 hours of “CPU time” to complete (9 + 9 = 18). Once again, that may be ok…but in reality, with 18 hours of CPU time, the single system could complete 3 work units…to the Dual systems 2! Yes again…that in 18 REALTIME hours, the Dual system would kick out 4 (9 and 9 + 9 and 9 = 18 hours with 4 units complete) but would tally up 32 hours of “CPU time.” Pardon my pitiful math equations, but I hope that you get the point…

After cruising the net to look for possible solutions AFTER I went to Configuration Two, I found an answer: The memory performance for the VIA chipsets suck. Well, I was not “OK” with that thought. I am now tending to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that some additional effort in tweaking would solve the problems…

Microsoft provided some help in stating that turning off the I/O counters for the task monitor would help memory/CPU intensive applications. Configuration Three implemented this.

Configuration Three:

Initial thoughts on this is, well, it really did not change anything. Average time per CPU is still 9 to 10 hours. Now, this could be a theory as to why:

The CPU front side bus (FSB) is running at 133MHz, which is, of course, the same as the memory speed. Now, stay with me here…If both CPU’s are running a FSB of 133MHz and the memory is NOT clocked at 266MHz, then SOME sort of limitation should exist! I just do not see VIA implementation of separate memory paths to NOT have a problem with bandwidth. In this case, the memory “bus” so to speak, is splitting the 133MHz bandwidth to 66MHz for each CPU at full throttle. This would account for a increase from 6 to 9 hours per CPU. If there was a way to, say, split the 1 GB of memory and have each CPU access only 512 MB of it each, then that “should” alleviate the problem, but what that would solve would be nothing! You would have to be running 2 copies of windows on the system, since the memory would no longer be “shared!” Great solution if you do not want to have 2 complete systems running SETI and put them in one box, but not very good if you actually want to USE the system! 🙂

IRQ and BIOS Configuration

I hate IRQ sharing. Nuf said.

Try to make your system NOT share IRQ’s when at all possible. IE: the AGP slot and PCI 1 share the same IRQ. Put your next card a slot down for even more of a good reason, better cooling/air flow for your overworked graphics card!

Try to refrain from over clocking. I know the thoughts are always there, but they tend to lessen the life of the components and I have begun to lean more toward stability than pure speed. What is the point of getting to point “B” fast if it takes you 30 seconds to reboot before even starting from point “A!?”!

Memory settings can always be tweaked. Taking the SPD modules recommended settings can be painful, but the manufacture knows best. Even though the system may work just fine at a higher setting (IE: CAS2) The system may suffer from stability and/or cooling issues. If you want more memory performance, cough up the bucks for PC-150. Ok, I am stepping down from the soap box, now…

“MPS 1.4” support eludes me still…I have no idea if it SHOULD be enabled, but since Asus had it set to “Enabled” by default, I am going with it.

Each person usually has there own experience with “Plug and Play OS” enabled or disabled. I was PRO having the BIOS take care of the IRQ duties for a long time, but since MOST newer components are actually PnP now (or at least pretend very well), I have tried both ways and each have its advantages:

If you want to see what IRQ’s are going with what cards on POST, keep the setting to “NO.” If this feature matters none to you, it really doesn’t matter. Windows is getting better at IRQ management (and not having 5 devices share the same IRQ while 4 lie unused) but whatever you choose, stick to it! The system may not like switching between the two every day or so!

Conclusion

After everything that has been placed here, I would STILL use the Dual Configuration.

Why? Simple, its cool! I have wanted a Dual System from the moment I caught whiff of “Dual Pentium Pro 200” systems running way over $5k each. Now, you can get them for a song…

Regardless, I think that with further optimizations and playing with settings, this Asus CUV4X-D should yield satisfactory results. With Asus’s track record and continued support of their products long after others have gave up, I think this is a board to watch for some time. Until the Pentium 4 offers dual support with RDRAM and optimized applications for the new architecture, Dual Pentium III 1 GHz Systems will rule…