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THE EPOX ENHANCED IDE BUS-MASTER DRIVER
Last updated: 3/6/2001

EpoX is no longer supplying the HighPoint IDE driver with their motherboards.  I no longer see the driver in the Products section of HighPoint's web sight.  I have stopped using it.  Larry

If you have an Epox motherboard such as Epox's Super7 superstars, the EP-MVP3G-MEP-51MVPE-M and EP-58MVPC-M, and an UltraDMA hard disk drive, quick, hop over to Epox's Web site and download their new, specially designed XStore Pro IDE driver for Win 95/98 from HighPoint Technologies.  Epox claims hard disk performance will increase 10 to 50%.

Below, are some bench marks I ran on my shop machine. 

wpe2.jpg (11764 bytes)

wpe3.jpg (13476 bytes)

Epox:  Epox's Version of the XStore Pro IDE Driver.

Win 98:  Stock Microsoft Windows 98 VIA Driver

Via:  VIA Bus Master (Ultra DMA) PCI IDE Driver v.2.1.26 downloaded from VIA's WEB Site.

Please note that the above bars start at zero... The results are truly that impressive.  What they don't entirely show is how remarkable it is to start-up IE 4, Windows Explorer, Outlook 98, Excel, and Word as fast as one can single-click the icons I have on my task-bar and see all of the windows load almost instantaneously and one program not doggedly waiting for the other to open.   I can open and have all of these programs running within 10 seconds!   Also, my Internet browser, I.E. 4.01, which dumps stuff to the hard disk as it downloads WEB pages, seems both faster and "smoother."  That is the result of bus-mastering (Highpoint's WEB site states that the stock Win 98 IDE driver for the VIA chipset isn't a bus-mastering driver--see FAQs on XSTORE--no longer available).  The CPU is not slowed down with the chore of routing all of the data from the hard disk to memory.  The data goes from the hard disk to memory through the motherboard chipset, leaving the CPU free to process other data/start-up other programs.  Click here (no longer available) for diagrams from Highpoint.

I found comparable results with slower processors.  I also found that the differences between the drivers were not significant with 32 MB of memory.   Epox recommends 48 MB minimum memory (version 1.1 will handle computers less memory, but it isn't available for down-load yet).  I used 300 Mhz K6-2 and 64 MB of memory to obtain the above results. The hard disk WinMarks between the EP-51MVPE-M (ATX) and EP-58MVPC-M (Baby AT) boards were insignificant.  The EP-51 scored a little higher on the CPU WinMark owing to its 1 MB cache' versus the EP-58's 512K cache'.   Finally, I boosted the memory to 128 MB and discovered it actually slowed things down a bit.  More is not always better...

The next chart shows that, as far as hard disk performance is concerned, my 300 Mhz K6-2 shop computer, with the combination of a 6.4 GB, 9.5 ms Western Digital hard disk and the Epox driver, beats a 400 Mhz Pentium II computer with a 11.9 GB, 9 ms Maxtor hard disk and the stock Windows 98 driver for the Intel 82371AB/EB PCI Bus Master IDE Controller (BX440 chip-set).  This is somewhat an apples and oranges comparison, but the results are significant enough to make the conclusion.

wpe5.jpg (17354 bytes)

  Ziff-Davis' WinBench® 98 Version 1.0

I have experienced some difficulties in the many times I have installed the Epox IDE driver. Apparently, there is a intermittent problem with the installation program or a problem with Windows 98 (I have seen the same problem installing the stock Win 98 VIA BusMaster driver, though less frequently).  If you see a DOS window with error messages right after rebooting from the Epox IDE driver setup or start seeing Windows errors after what appears to be a normal installation, the solution is to run the Epox setup again, select "deinstall" from the setup menu, reboot, let Windows 98 reinstall the stock IDE drivers, and then reinstall the Epox drivers again.  Once installed correctly, the driver works fine.

Good work, Epox and Highpoint!

Larry

300 Mhz K6-2 Computer (shop computer): AMD 300 Mhz K6-2 processor, Epox EP-58MVP3C-M motherboard, 512K cache', 64 MB PC100 memory, Western Digital AC36400, 6.4 GB, 9.5 ms, EIDE UDMA hard disk, Windows 98 OEM with FAT32 file system (defragged), AOpen CD-936E/AKU 36X CD-ROM, SB16 sound board, Aopen FM56-ITU FAX/MODEM, Kingston KNE40BT network adapter, and Venus/Trident T975 AGP Adapter with 4 MB.

400 Mhz Pentium II Computer. 400 Mhz Pentium II processor, Abit BH6 motherboard with Intel® 440BX chipset (82443BX and 82371EB), 128 MB PC100 memory, Maxtor DiamondMax 3400 (model 9119007) 11.9 GB, 9.0 ms, EIDE UDMA hard disk (defragged), Windows 98 OEM with FAT32 file system, Toshiba SD-M1102 IDE DVD drive, Aopen FM56-ITU FAX/MODEM, Aopen FX-3D Plus sound board, Aopen ALN-320VX network adapter, and ATI Rage AGP adapter with 8 MB.

WinBench is a registered trademark or trademark and WinMark is a trademark of Ziff-Davis Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.