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Reader Feedback: Umax E100 NIC/SCSI Card Compatibility Reports
Published: 1/14/2000


E100/PowerForce G3 Beta Enabler: [2/8/2000] Stephen Chu sent a note that Powerlogix has released a beta version of an E100 Enabler to address the Networking issues with the E100 and G3 upgrade cards that use 'virtual firmware' (first noted here in my E100 Compat./Feedback page). Get the update at http://www.powerlogix.com/support/softwarebeta.html

To offload the main front page news I created this page to list owner feedback on issues with the Umax E100 combination Network and SCSI card. Here's some of the latest owner reports (most recent first).


This E100 owner reports good results with his E100 SCSI card, Turbomax IDE, Firewire and USB PCI cards:

" Mike,
maybe I'm just a lucky one (touch wood), but I have had the E100 installed in my S900 since buying it. Got it refurbished from SmallDog a year and a half or so ago, with Powerlogix G3 220/110/512 (set and stable at 300MHz) installed from the start. In the last two months I've added the TurboMax card, stably running a 17GB Maxtor IDE HD (although there were some initial problems with recognizing the Maxtor drive dependent on the angle it was sitting, but no problems with an IBM Deskstar that later was placed in my PC). Recently, just clean installed OS9 on a separate partition that it is running off whilst I'm typing. Not sure if there are any corruption issues but please point me to details of how I might check this and will do so.

My config for PCI slots (top to bottom):
E100 IXMicro
IX Micro Ultimate Rez
Radius Firewire card (they are now called Digital Origin)
IXMicro Twin Turbo
TurboMax IDE
Acro's 5 port USB adapter

On the last card, I just installed that today, with some interesting results (longish story follows):

I'm resident in Japan and the Macally and Keyspan USB PCI cards are like a lot of Mac products over here, overpriced. I first tried a Justy 2 port USB PCI card from one of the big PC dealers here, but was UHCI (before I knew you needed OHCI). Of course it didn't fly with any of the the early or latest Mac OS USB Developer's Kit drivers.

I found the Acro's 5 port today (OHCI) at same PC vendor for about $US 35. With 5 ports this should quench my need for USB ports for a while. Comes out about the same as a cheap 2 port USB card (if I could find one) and a USB hub, and less than half the price of the Macally or Keyspan here.

After seeing that v1.4f1 of Mac OS USB Developer's Kit drivers were released today, downloaded, did the usbx hack with ResEdit, as instructed, and installed in extensions folder. After installing the Acro's USB card, reset CUDA switch, and connected up Justy two button USB mouse. This was not recognized until I reset the PRAM with TechTool. Then all was honky dory. Tried a Justy USB keyboard for good measure and it was fine. Keeping the ADB mouse and keyboard on and using USB and ADB devices simultaneously caused no lockups, suggesting that the drivers are getting better by the week.

Lastly as the Justy USB keyboard designed for PC use has a PS/2 port on it's side thought I'd see if my Logitech PS/2 scroll mouse from my PC would fly on the S900. Well it did, but the scroll part does not work. Considering my first disappointments with the UHCI card, was overjoyed at all that would connect with this though without crashes or freezes (that's 2 keyboards and 3 mice all of mixed serial connection types). Caveats are that if the PS/2 mouse is connected to the USB keyboard, and there is no mouse movement from any USB connected mouse (either my Justy USB mouse or the Logitech PS/2 connected to the Justy USB keyboard) at startup just after the first few extensions have loaded, then no USB device will function on the desktop. However with further experimentation, if any of the USB mice (either my Justy USB mouse or the Logitech PS/2 connected to the Justy USB keyboard) are moved around just after startup when the first few extensions are loading then all will function. If the PS/2 mouse is not attached then all USB devices function fine, without doing anything at startup. Anyway enough said, I now have 5 USB ports at quite a reasonable price and so am pretty happy.

Details about Acro's USB card:

Name on package: Acro's Universal Serial Bus Extend Adapter Writing on main chip:

    OPTi
    Firelink
    82C861
    149939
    10UE
    Made in Taiwan

Apple System Profiler Reports the following for it:
Product ID: 5190 ($1446)
Vendor: Texas Instruments
Power(mA): 500 ($1f4)

And for the Justy keyboard and mouse it reports them as from Chicony Electronic Co., Ltd.

Hope this is of some help, and thank you very much for one of the most excellent Mac resources on the net.

[he later wrote]
...just an addendum to my long post about the Acro's USB card and devices that work with it and the latest Apple USB drivers. After just running my PC USB keyboard through it's paces can't see why there is the complaint of not having Apple Extended Keyboards for USB. Just buy the PC USB extended keyboards. Likely cheaper, much wider choice and other than the startup button, from what I can tell everything else functions the same (swap Windows button for Apple/Command button). Over here there are even many iMac like shades in the PC USB keyboards for those wanting to colour coordinate.
Cheers, Pete"


E100 Ethernet/G3 Upgrade Issues? Another reader sent a note about a firmware bug with the E100 can cause problems with G3 CPU Upgrades:

"Hi Mike,
I've been using this configuration for a long time without any disk related problem. The S900 is upgraded with PowerForce G3/220 overclocked to 315.

However, E100 has a bug in its firmware that checks for a hardcoded address for specific data in NVRAM to enable its ethernet function. Most G3 upgrade cards require a piece of software that patches and move data around in NVRAM to function properly (disable speculative process, enable L2 cache, etc.). This kind of NVRAM patches move the data required by E100 firmware so it can't enable ethernet function.

The symptom is after upgrading to G3 CPU that requires a extension to be installed, "E100 slot" option disappears from "Connect via" popup menu in AppleTalk and TCP/IP control panel.

Unless someone fixes the firmware in E100, there's no workaround for this so far.
Regards
Stephen Chu
[Stephen later wrote that Newer Tech G3 cards are not affected by this bug since they have a hardware solution for the Speculative Access/Processing issues that other companies use software/virtual virmware to address:]

Hi Mike,
Forgot to mention in the previous mail that G3 upgrade from NewerTech should work fine with E100 ethernet. Newer cards use hardware solution to the speculative processing problem so they do not require any NVRAM patch. That's probably why in the last days of Umax clone business, they used Newer cards to create S900/G3.

From what I collected from a survey in SuperMac mail list, all XLR8 and Powerlogix cards exhibit the firmware problem. Only Newer card is compatible with E100 ethernet function. No report from owners of other brands yet.

Also, the UW SCSI function of the card is not affected by this problem. If the ethernet function is not required, E100 can actually be installed at any of the six PCI slots and functions as a normal UW SCSI card. The extra connecter in slot A is just for the Asante chip-based ethernet part.

I recommand anyone who has E100 and need 100BaseT or extra ethernet port buy a separate ethernet card. Both E100 and extra ethernet card are cheap and S900 has extra slot to spare, though I still managed to fill them up. :) "

Powerlogix wrote that they are working on a fix for this issue, hoping to have it available by the end of January 2000 based on a 'two weeks' estimate. If any E100 owners can are using the E100 Ethernet port with a G3 upgrade, please contact me with your system and upgrade card specifics.


Previous E100 compatibility issues reported in the news:

Umax E100 NIC/SCSI Card and Turbomax Issues: In reply to a post in a past news page this reader says he had to remove his E100 NIC/SCSI card from his Umax S900 to use his Turbomax IDE card properly. (A more recent report above from an E100/Turbomax owner reported no problems)

"Mike, I noticed you had an entry from someone who said they had to replace their Jackhammer with a TurboMax to get stability on their Powerlogix. You claim to have no such trouble. Are you running a Newer G3, or a Powerlogix? [As noted in my comments in yesterday's news, I ran a Jackhammer card fine with the PF G4/350 in a 9600/350-Mike]

I had a similar problem with disk corruption on my XLR8 G3 equipped S900 w/ E100 (a Jackhammer.) A check at the Hammerstorage web site told me they don't recommend using the Jackhammer with any G3 upgrade EXCEPT Newer's - they claim all others are incompatible.

I removed my E100, and no more crashes/freezes/disk corruption. I thought the problem was a conflict with my TurboMax, which now has no problems. BTW - until I removed the E100, I couldn't RAID my 2 20.4 gig Maxtors using SoftRAID.
Bob Gale"

Bob stated he'd flashed the E100 with the Jackhammer firmware, so this may or may not be part of the problem (I suspect he tried that after having problems with the original firmware). I'd personally not recommend putting a SCSI card (only) ROM in a combo SCSI/NIC card, despite the fact the E100 is said to use the same SCSI chip as the Jackhammer.

As far as Hammerstorage's G3 upgrade card comments, I suspect they are just playing it safe, as I can personally confirm from years of use I have had no problems using Jackhammer PCI SCSI cards with _any_ G3 upgrade card from day one. (Noted in my reviews of SCSI Cards and the FAQ.) Here are a couple of notes and a tip I sent to Bob:

  • The adaptec 2940 and other wide scsi adaptec cards had problems with g3 upgrades as noted in the FAQ and the first G3 card reviews hear (first PF 250 review notes it as does others until this was addressed in updates to software controls). However the 'disabling spec. processing' options that appeared in later software versions seems to have fixed this.

  • As noted at the site articles, I've never had a problem with a Jackhammer scsi card and any brand of G3 card, from day one. I used it with over a dozen different cards of several brands on the years - never a problem. (It did require a firmware update for the B&W G3 apple system when it first shipped, as noted in my B&W G3 compat. page last spring, but so did most every other Scsi card). Scsi experts MacGurus will also confirm that the Jackhammer has been compatible with any G3 card brand. I suspect Hammerstorage is just being conservative in their compatibility statement after the Adaptec wide scsi card issue was originally discovered. Note that narrow Adaptec scsi cards (like the PowerCenter Pro's 2930B) have never had the problem in my experience.

  • Tips for your S900. As noted in my S900 tips page, some PCI cards only work properly in the top two PCI slots. Readers also say these slots also improve video card performance. (Note: The E100 card has a special slot, so the tip refers to moving standard PCI cards, not the E100 of course.) The S900 tips page also has a note on termination from a E100 card owner.

    The PCI slot tip may not solve your Turbomax/E100 mix problem but I thought I'd mention it. The lack of support and updates to E100 drivers is a negative (great card otherwise I hear). There may be some driver mix/busmastering issue between the E100/Turbomax cards. Perhaps the E100 slot shares an IRQ with one of the PCI slots, so try another (top 2 preferred) to see if it helps.

    Bob later replied he tried the Turbomax card in PCI slot 2, with the Jackhammer 1.4.1 and 1.4 firmware in the E100 with no luck.

    If there are any S900/E100/Turbomax owners out there using this mix fine, please contact me (note E100 in the subject line). Thanks!





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