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Large ramdrive in Windows 98

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#1
Sfor

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I want to do a few experiments related to CPU demanding video playback. I would like to compare the results while playing from ram drive and HDD. To be more specific, I would like to test the efficiency of the Windows 98 disk caching system. I'm curious if the ramdrive will be faster than the disk cache. Or rather which way saves more of the CPU power.

The task demands to create a large ramdrive (512MB or so). I've tried XMSDSK.EXE so far, but I was not able to start GUI along with it.

Are there any other suitable ramdrive solutions available? I do understand different ramdrive drivers can work with different efficiency. So, the DOS based ones do not seem to be a good choice, probably.

The test computer does have Windows 98 SE SP 2.1 with 1GB of RAM. It works fine without any ramdrive for the time being.

Edited by Sfor, 26 September 2010 - 02:49 AM.



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#2
Glenn9999

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The task demands to create a large ramdrive (512MB or so). I've tried XMSDSK.EXE so far, but I was not able to start GUI along with it.


If I remember right, 98 has what amounts to two startup sequences. One system wide, one for command prompts. If you get that driver into the system-wide part, there shouldn't be any reason why it shouldn't run, as long as you don't take too much memory away so Windows itself can't start.

Assuming 98 can use all the memory (1 GB might be too much, I don't know?), it should be fine, especially since you should be able to run MS RAMDRIVE.SYS without a problem...

#3
dencorso

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The task demands to create a large ramdrive (512MB or so). I've tried XMSDSK.EXE so far, but I was not able to start GUI along with it.

Why? Describe in more details your setup for the ramdisk and what is happening, please.
It does work. I used such a configuration for about two years.
Others in the > 1 GiB List have done so too:

dencorso (I)
=========

OS: Windows 98SE (w/98SE2ME)
Memory: 1.5 GiB RAM (PC3200 - Kingston 1x 1 GiB, 1x 512 MiB @344 MHz, timings 3-5-5-9, 2T)
Motherboard: ASUS A7V600-X
CPU: Athlon XP-M 2800+ @2410 MHz
Video card: MSI MS-8817 V1 nVidia GeForce2 MX400 PRO32S (32 MiB; AGP 4x)
AGP aperture: 64 MiB
config.sys:
DEVICE=HIMEMX.EXE /NUMHANDLES=80 /TESTMEM:ON
INSTALL=XMSDSK.EXE 387072 N: /C1 /T /Y
autoexec.bat: no relevant entries
system.ini:
MaxPhysPage=48600 ; 1158 MiB
MaxFileCache=114688 ; 112 MiB
ChunkSize=2048
VCACHE.VxD: Xeno86's 4.10.0.2223, VMM.VXD: original 4.10.0.2226

[...]

tscharlii
======

OS: Windows 98SE
Memory: 1.5 GiB RAM (Dual Channel, PC3200 @ 333 MHz, 2x 512 MiB, 2x 256 MiB)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-7N400-L
CPU: Athlon XP 2600+
Video card: Ati Radeon 9600XT onBoard (128 MiB; AGP 8x)
AGP aperture: 128 MiB
config.sys:
DEVICE=HIMEM.SYS
autoexec.bat:
XMSDSK.EXE 524288 G: /t /y
system.ini:
ConservativeSwapfileUsage=0
PagingDrive=G:
MaxPhysPage=40000
MaxFileCache=65536
vmm32.vxd: plain vanilla (with 4.10.0.2222 vcache.vxd and vmm.vxd inside)



#4
Sfor

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In my particular case the gui does not start, after loading XMSDSK.EXE 512000 from the AUTOEXEC.BAT.

The CONFIG.SYS does contain just the FILES=240 statement and code page related settings. The AUTOEXEC.BAT contains just the XMSDSK,exe and some code page related entries, as well.

The Microsoft ramdrive.sys is unusable, as it is unable to manage ram drives exceeding 32MB.

Edited by Sfor, 26 September 2010 - 10:29 AM.


#5
dencorso

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Let's do it differently...
Modify MSDOS.SYS in the following manner:
Don't change anything in the [Paths] section.
Then add the following to the [Options] section:

BootDelay=0
BootMulti=0
BootGUI=0
LoadTop=1
DoubleBuffer=1
DblSpace=0
DrvSpace=0
AutoScan=2
Logo=0
DisableLog=0

Then set config.sys with the following:

DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:ON /EISA /V
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\IFSHLP.SYS
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\DBLBUFF.SYS
DOS=HIGH
FILES=240
LASTDRIVE=Z
BUFFERS=64,8
FCBS=40,8
STACKS=18,256

And use no autoexec.bat.

With this set-up the system will boot to the DOS prompt and stop.

Then run manually these 4 commands:
XMSDSK.EXE 524288 Z: /C1 /T /Y
XMSDSK
VOL Z:
WIN

The first sets up a 512 MiB ramdisk Z:
The second reports the status of the ramdisk, so you can verify it was created.
The third reports the label of the ramdisk.
The last starts the windows GUI.

Then please report your results.

#6
Sfor

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The ram drive is working and VOL command works correctly, all right. But the Windows stops on IOS device initialization (Bootlog.txt). ASD reports problem with reading ESCD data from PnP BIOS.

I'm experimenting with Dell Optiplex GX260. I was unable to get Ati All In Wonder 9000 working with ACPI in this particular computer. So, I had to fall back to APM to get the grahics card working. The same problem happend with NVidia GPU, so it seems there are some BIOS related problems here.

The problem with GUI booting along with the ram drive does not seem to be related to a specific GPU, as the same story happens with the onboard Intel 845 graphics controller.

I'm using XMSDSK.EXE 1.9I

I've noticed my MaxFileCache setting was a bit below 400000. So, less than a half of memory was used for file caching. I understand, why I had doubts in large file caching efficiency, now.

#7
dencorso

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Are you using an English or a Polish Win 98SE?
In any case, I'd say disable fully both ACPI and APM. At least for testing.

#8
Fredledingue

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My command line in autoexec.bat is:
XMSDSK 131072 /t /y

It works fine and it's the same version as yours. Can't help more... :-(

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#9
rloew

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The ram drive is working and VOL command works correctly, all right. But the Windows stops on IOS device initialization (Bootlog.txt). ASD reports problem with reading ESCD data from PnP BIOS.

I'm experimenting with Dell Optiplex GX260. I was unable to get Ati All In Wonder 9000 working with ACPI in this particular computer. So, I had to fall back to APM to get the grahics card working. The same problem happend with NVidia GPU, so it seems there are some BIOS related problems here.

The problem with GUI booting along with the ram drive does not seem to be related to a specific GPU, as the same story happens with the onboard Intel 845 graphics controller.

I'm using XMSDSK.EXE 1.9I

I've noticed my MaxFileCache setting was a bit below 400000. So, less than a half of memory was used for file caching. I understand, why I had doubts in large file caching efficiency, now.

XMS RAMDisks such as XMSDSK.EXE are managed by the Windows Memory Manager. This ties up System Arena space which is limited to 1 GiB total.
There is not enough space in your configuration to support a 512MiB RAMDisk so Windows crashes during boot.

Replacing HIMEM.SYS with HIMEMX.EXE will allow you to boot since it delays recognition of the space used by the RAMDisk, but it will crash if you fill up the RAMDisk.

I have written non-XMS RAMDisks that do not have this issue as they are not managed by Windows.
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#10
dencorso

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RLoew's hypothesis is easier to test than mine. So, get Japheth's HIMEMX.EXE and check whether the machine boots OK and starts the GUI OK. If so, then do a scandisk on the ramdisk, using the Windows Explorer Properties for the ramdisk, and direct it to do a surface test.
If RLoew is right, you'll be able to get to the GUI, but the surface test will crash the machine.

#11
Sfor

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Finally I've found some time to get back to this issue. The HIMEMX.EXE changed nothing, I'm afraid. Other time consuming tests will have to wait.

#12
dencorso

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Try again with HIMEMX.EXE, but this time set MaxFileCache=32768.

#13
jaclaz

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Are there any other suitable ramdrive solutions available? I do understand different ramdrive drivers can work with different efficiency. So, the DOS based ones do not seem to be a good choice, probably.

SRDISK:
http://www.msfn.org/...howtopic=109574
http://www.msfn.org/...ic=109574&st=13

http://sourceforge.n...rojects/srdisk/

jaclaz

#14
Sfor

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Try again with HIMEMX.EXE, but this time set MaxFileCache=32768.

It does not seem to make any difference.


Are there any other suitable ramdrive solutions available? I do understand different ramdrive drivers can work with different efficiency. So, the DOS based ones do not seem to be a good choice, probably.

SRDISK:
http://www.msfn.org/...howtopic=109574
http://www.msfn.org/...ic=109574&st=13

http://sourceforge.n...rojects/srdisk/

jaclaz

I did not have much time to read through all the provided links, but the outcome is significally different in this particular case. I mean, I'm getting a following error message:

"VFAT Device Initialization Failed

A device or resource required by VFAT is not present
or is unavailable. VFAT cannot continue loading."

I had an opportunity to play the same video on two computers with the same single core P4 2.4GHz CPU. One was running Windows 98, the other a standard installation of Windows XP. As expected, the quality of output video on the Windows 98 was significantly higher. The output from the XP was quite a choppy one, while on Windows 98 video was freezing only during complicated scenes with both moving text and images blurring one to another. Apparently, CPU has to work much more during such scenes.

As for all DOS based ram drives. In theory, they would require the CPU to switch between 16bit and 32bit modes in order to function. The construction of the single core P4 CPU should make every such a change to be a significantly long one. So, it is quite possible, loading the whole file in the windows file cache, could give better results, as the CPU mode switching would not be necesary. However, I was not able to prove the point, as I was unable to run Windows 98 with large enough ramdrive, so far.

#15
dencorso

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As for all DOS based ram drives. In theory, they would require the CPU to switch between 16bit and 32bit modes in order to function. The construction of the single core P4 CPU should make every such a change to be a significantly long one. So, it is quite possible, loading the whole file in the windows file cache, could give better results, as the CPU mode switching would not be necesary. However, I was not able to prove the point, as I was unable to run Windows 98 with large enough ramdrive, so far.

I realy don't think the CPU mode switching causes any perceptible slowness... in fact, my ramdisk performance tests show them to be faster even than a hardware ramdisk, like the Gigabite i-RAM (which is itself already wonderful, BTW). While the XP only Gavotte is a windows driver, RLoew's non-XMS ramdisk is a DOS program, loaded before Win 9x.

#16
Sfor

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All hardware based ramdisk solutions have to be slower then software ones. The speed of the IO operations is limited by the construction of the IO buses, while the RAM controller and modules will always be faster. Still, it is visible, the NT based ramdisk is faster, than the DOS based one.

But, I would like to test if the ramdisk would be faster than the Windows 98 file caching system. Right now I'm using the file cache setting of 800000. The script copies the file to the nul device, before launching video player. As the result, the whole file gets loaded to the file cache, and there are no hard drive operations during playback. I'm also curious, if the ramdrives are cached by the Windows. If so, there are no point in using ramdrives, in my case.

#17
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(Thought best to push this old thread that starting a new one)


How about the Cenatek RAMDisk9xME 1.5? Any experience with this in W98?

Posted Image

http://www.brotherso...9xme-82623.html

I use its Dataram descendant in W7 and it works like a charm.


If we got less than 1GB of RAM (768MB in my case), there are any advantages or disadvantages in using a XMS or non-XMS ramdisk with W98?

#18
dencorso

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Yes. a XMS ramdrive will wind up using memory from the System Arena, which is limited to 1 GiB and is also used by the DOS boxes, VCache and all the OS Ring-0 components (drivers, VxDs and the kernel proper, and some hardware like the graphics aperture of AGP video cards... so, at the end of the day, one'll not be able to use much more than about 350 MiB for the ramdisk, else crashes follow.
A Non-XMS ramdisk does not use memory from the System Arena nor anywhere inside the memory managed by windos, and can be as large as 3.5 GiB, without any problems.

#19
RetroWish

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Hi There.

In my "unpatched" system, I have found that any practical combination of (Vcache + RAMdisk) is ok provided the sum total of the two sizes does not exceed 768 MB. Currently, I am using a 256 MB Vcache and a 512 MB RAMdisk. I hope this helps.

#20
rloew

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Hi There.

In my "unpatched" system, I have found that any practical combination of (Vcache + RAMdisk) is ok provided the sum total of the two sizes does not exceed 768 MB. Currently, I am using a 256 MB Vcache and a 512 MB RAMdisk. I hope this helps.

That would be about right with a XMS RAM Disk, "patched" or "unpatched". Each uses System Arena space. The actual limit varies depending upon the Graphics Drivers used.
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#21
TELVM

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Thanks gentlemen. It has been over a decade since last time I fiddled with Win98 and I'm extremely rusty, if I ask something particularly obvious/stupid please indulge me :ph34r: .

So for Win98 we've got ...

XMS ramdisks:
- Ramdrive.sys
- XMSDSK 1.9I
- Srdisk
? Cenatek Win9xMe 1.5 ?

Non-XMS ramdisks:
- RLOEW's


Anything else?

Maybe some old version of the Gavotte could work in Win98?


What I have in mind is testing to select a fast ramdisk for speeding up a bit a 1999-vintage computer I'm restoring.

#22
Fredledingue

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I'm using a 128 Mb Ramdisk for ages now.
I can't compare the speeds, because HDD are so fast, but anyway it makes sens to put all temporary datas and make all useless operation requiring to write on disk on a ramdisk in order to spare HDD resource availability and longevity.
The more you use the Ramdisk the longer your HDD will last. Here again I have no scientific comparison to support that but it's logical.
There are so many actions that put garbage on your HDD that it makes sens to put all of them on a temporary Ramdisk.

I set all the "temp" files and folders on the Ramdisk.
I'm also using the Ramdisk for the IE cache (temporary internet files).

As for reading videos, it's certainly a little bit faster than HDD but I doubt it would make a noticeable difference unless your HDD is old. At 5200 rpm, it should make no difference unless the HDD is busy doing something else, which is also a good reason to use a Ramdisk.

The other problem with Ramdisk is that it's erased everytime you turn off the computer. So any video to be played off the Ramdisk, will have to be copied first from the HDD to the Ramdisk. And this will take a lot of time.
Unless it's a video meant to be replayed many times during a single session, this is not an efficient solution.

One can imagine using Ramdisk to loop-play adds on screen in a shop, or to replay endlessly your favorite music (meditation mantra would be perfect for that usage -LOL-)

Some members here use the Ramdisk as a location for the swap files (which fills when the ram memory is full).
This useful only when the physical memory available exceeds what is supported by Windows 98, even patched, and when the Ramdisk is large enough for that purpose.

Idealy, one could think of a setup where all files and temp files which has to be constantly rewritten by the system itself (eg: user.dat) are located on a Ramdrive.
Not running windows off the Ramdisk, but copying and using all files to be often modified there.
That way you could work with drive C on iddle mode.
Imagine the disk usage saving!
But I don't know if it's possible. Nice testing experience here!

Edited by Fredledingue, 28 February 2012 - 05:22 PM.

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#23
dencorso

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Among the traditional XMS ramdisks, XMSDSK 1.9I by Franck Uberto rulez! Forget any others. :yes:
The Gavotte works only under the NT-Family OSes, there's no version compatible with Win 9x/ME.
RLoew's non-XMS ramdisk (link) is the only one of its kind, and it's not free, but if you can afford it's cost, it surely is the way to go. :yes:
In a machine having 3 GiB of RAM, it'll allow you to use a 2 GiB ramdisk with 1 GiB RAM left for Windows. It's great!

#24
TELVM

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Thanks Fredledingue. I'm well aware of the advantages of ramdisks, also been using them for years.

And I agree with you, its main handicap (volatility) we can turn into virtue by using the ramdisk as automatic and merciless garbage disintegrator :D every shutdown. In addition to temp files, browser cache and other stuff, I also move the entire Firefox profile into ramdisk. This speeds up even more the browsing experience, and spares the SSD a lot of writing in the modern comp.

Seems it is possible to run Win98 off a ramdisk, this looks like a success story: My link



Thanks for the good advice Dencorso, I'll follow it and try XMSDSK 1.9I . There exists any early version of Crystaldiskmark, or similar benchmarking stuff, that runs in Win98?



There is another thing I would like to comment with you, if you don't mind. Next weekend I'm taking posession of a 1999-vintage comp I'll try to restore running Win98SE. It's going to be a lot of fun, but also I know I'm very rusty with both the hardware and the software of those times. There are some hurdles I've foreseen (32GB HDD limit, 768GB of RAM) and surely there will be more.

So I was thinking of opening a thread on the subject here in MSFN-Win95/98/Me, where maybe you the much more experienced people could give advice one step at a time, if that wouldn't be asking too much. Would it be appropriate to start such a thread? If so, where exactly? Maybe in the '9x member projects' section?

#25
dencorso

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Thanks for the good advice Dencorso, I'll follow it and try XMSDSK 1.9I . There exists any early version of Crystaldiskmark, or similar benchmarking stuff, that runs in Win98?

You bet! CrystalDiskMark22_9x :yes:


There is another thing I would like to comment with you, if you don't mind. Next weekend I'm taking posession of a 1999-vintage comp I'll try to restore running Win98SE. It's going to be a lot of fun, but also I know I'm very rusty with both the hardware and the software of those times. There are some hurdles I've foreseen (32GB HDD limit, 768GB of RAM) and surely there will be more.

So I was thinking of opening a thread on the subject here in MSFN-Win95/98/Me, where maybe you the much more experienced people could give advice one step at a time, if that wouldn't be asking too much. Would it be appropriate to start such a thread? If so, where exactly? Maybe in the '9x member projects' section?

Sure. In the Members Projects Section, all right. And start by giving a detailed description of the hardware, including make and model of the motherboard, so we can hunt it's manual somewhere and add a link to it, for the convenience of all interested in participating in the thread. Let me suggest a title: "Resurrecting a 1999-Vintage Win98SE Machine". Do get yourself a disk imaging solution, to preserve images of every major step, it makes life much easier: either the free Partition Saving or the inexpensive Norton Ghost 2003 (which you'll find over on e-Bay or similar places).




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