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FROM THE SHOP - DIARY 6/5/99

EpoX has just released new BIOS updates for several of their motherboards, including the MVP3G-M, 51MVP3E-M and the 58MVP3C-M.  Of particular interest, is the update for the "51" and "58" boards.  It adds BIOS ID strings for the AMD 475 and 500 Mhz processors, support for the Cyrix MIII PR366 processor, and fixes the following problems:

  • Compatibility with ATI Rage 128 and 3D Winbench 99.
  • Compatibility with OEM Windows 98 install.
  • VGA power management monitoring.
  • Compatibility with UDMA 2 & 4 devices to only allow UDMA 2 mode.
  • Compatibility with sound cards when the IDE interface is accessed

EpoX also announced the release of the VIA Service Pack 4.01 (all-in-one) drivers.  This Service Pack is supposed to include all of the drivers (VIA AGP, VIA IRQ, PCI-Bridge, and IDE bus master) for the MVP3 chipset found on the EpoX Super7 motherboards.  It doesn't.  The USB filter driver is missing.  The package itself is a great idea gone awry.  Other than not including everything, it has several problems.  First, after downloading and unzipping the package one finds several empty directories and one directory with all the goodies: X:directory\Epox\Driver\VIA\VIA Service 4.01 (where X:\directory is where you unzipped the download).  So, select all of the directories (uh, folders) and files in that directory and copy them to a floppy or select the directory itself and copy it to wher ever you would have put the unzipped stuff in the first place.

I uninstalled the Highpoint IDE driver and I tried to uninstall all the VIA drivers on my computer to test the Service Pack.  Well, I uninstalled some I wasn't' supposed to and Windows 98 reinstalled them on reboot and went through a couple gyrations and reboots to reinstalling things like my display adapter and cable modem...  I then installed the Service Pack.  My computer bombed with a Windows protection error upon reboot.  I powered-down and it came up ok.  I went into the Service Pack setup, selected uninstall for each of the drivers, rebooted, did setup again and installed everything.  Everything appears normal after a reboot and reinstalling the Highpoint software.  I said installed everything which included IDE bus master driver.  According to the instructions on EpoX's Web site, this driver is for Windows 95.  I left it installed anyway.

As I said the Service Pack idea is a good one.  It saves having to download maintain several floppies with different drivers and reduces the possibilities of errors when setting-up a new motherboard.  To make it effective (and usable) the following improvements are needed:

  1. Include all of the drivers (I would include the Highpoint driver as well, or at least make it clear to the end user whether or not it needs to be uninstalled before updating the VIA drivers).
  2. Implement an auto-detect and update capability.  That is, the Service Pack should detect the version of Windows, determine what drivers and the version of the drivers are installed, and update the computer automatically with the appropriate drivers.
  3. Make sure the Service Pack is always up-to-date.
  4. Improve the documentation.
  5. Make it clear to the installer what the difference is between Turbo and Normal AGP.

VIA. I could not find the Service Pack on Via's site, but I did stumble into an updated FAQ page on the various Via chipsets:  It's a good read.

Larry

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