Re: First question: Eclipse

From: Johan Klockars <>
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 03:00:45 +0200 (MET DST)

> As many of you no doubt have already read Core (nee Titan) Designs
> have released the Eclipse PCI card adapter with ATI graphics card.
> I think at least one of you has one already and I was just wondering

That would probably just be me. There's been a slight delay so the first
cards haven't left Core Design yet (should be any day now, though).

> what the general feeling is? I know the hardware is just plug'n'play
> but how easy is the software side? How does it all work?

The software side is handled by fVDI, something called PCIBIOS and a
slightly modified version of the AB040 Toolkit (only if you have an AB040,

The PCIBIOS is a piece of code that mainly locates cards on the PCI bus
and makes them available to the system (specific drivers are still needed
for every card, of course). This is supposed to be compatible with the
PCI BIOSes of the Milan and Hades (there's apparently some standard), so
drivers should be interchangable between the machines.

The Toolkit modifications are necessary because the PCIBIOS maps the Eclipse
memory map (including for example the RageII frame buffer) into chunks
(to make it compatible with 14Mbyte memory extensions) using the MMU.
A bus error handler is installed to change the mapping on the fly.

fVDI is 'simply' a new VDI, just like NVDI.
To deal with the Eclipse/RageII there is a special device driver for this
(there are drivers for the normal monochrome, four colour and FalconTC
modes as well), which uses the hardware acceleration of the mach64 2D
engine which is the heart of the RageII chip (and others) from ATI.

Installation is only a matter of putting the files above in the AUTO
folder (or however you handle your auto-booting stuff), place the fVDI
ACC in the root directory and making sure the FVDI.SYS file (also in
the root directory and very similar to the normal ASSIGN.SYS) matches
your setup and preferences.

fVDI does not yet support the entire set of VDI functions (it does
have some of the most useful extensions from GDOS and NVDI, though), but
there is very little left now. I've been using it without problems for a
long time, but I'm perhaps not a typical user. The addition of polygon
fills, circles/ellipses/arcs/pies and thick lines in the last week or two
means that very few programs should have any problems.

fVDI can also work together with another VDI to provide for example
outline fonts and printer support if you want. This has been tested with
FontGDOS (supplied with the Eclipse and seems to work fine running both
before and after fVDI) and NVDI 4.11 (works fine running after fVDI, but
there are still some problems with it first).

Generally, running another VDI before fVDI will give access to its device
drivers while not impacting screen output in any way.
Another VDI after fVDI will still give driver access, but it can also supply
extra functionality for the screen, such as outline fonts. Unfortunately,
all screen output will be slowed down in this case.

> I will almost certainly be buying one very soon but I am just curious
> to know your thoughts.

Currently, I'm the one to ask.
You might consider me biased since I'm the author of fVDI and most of
the mach64 device driver, as well as the owner of one of the small
handful of prototype Eclipses, but I'd be happy to answer any questions
you might have. It would be easier if they were more specific than
'general feelings', though. ;-)
I could provide some benchmarks of the Eclipse/RageII on my AB040 with
and without NVDI and FontGDOS, for example. Or perhaps there is some
application you want me to test (I don't have many)?

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Received on fr. juli 16 1999 - 01:05:03 CEST

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