ASUS P3C 2000 Camino Board - Page 4

BIOS makeover

Perhaps this may be my first BIOS encounter with a Camino setup, but it is indeed a refreshing change from what I’m familiar with in previous BX motherboard configurations. Besides having a “tab-like” menu concept and options selected via the “Enter” key (as opposed to the regular “Pg Up / Down”), I found the BIOS menus definitely more intuitive.

However, it could do with some restructuring, as some options are still not ideally placed in the menu hierarchy IMHO. In any case, aesthetics only do so much. So what highlights does it offer?  

a. CPU / FSB / Memory speed / VCore settings

As stated before, the board allows for manual FSB settings via the BIOS as well. All settings via external DIP switches are also available in Soft BIOS (meaning 100 to 180MHz at 2 to 3MHz increments).  However, the corresponding SDRAM speed settings at >133MHz FSBs are not manually adjustable, and take on a 2/3 divider, such that a ceiling of 133MHz is imposed. This is inevitable, as the memory translator hub only supports 100MHz officially, and anything above that is already pushing it. The BIOS also allowed variable VCore voltages for my Coppermine, ranging from 1.60V to 1.90V at 0.05V increments.

b. IRQ assignments

A nice addition and characteristic of the Camino chipset is the ability to assign individual IRQs to specific PCI slots (say, IRQX to PCI slotX). Gone are the cryptic presets of IRQ configurations offered via PIRQ#1-#4. In comparison, the VIA Apollo Pro 133A also supports similar specific IRQ assignments.

c. PNP OS (that works!)

Granted that PNP OS has been around for some time, I could never get it to work properly on previous motherboards I used, and IRQ conflicts would predominantly abound prior to manual intervention.  However, on the P3C-2000, I finally witnessed the utility of a working PNP OS. 

During migration from my old motherboard, Win98se reinstalled several base drivers (including my SBLive Emulation). Just after bootup, I literally witnessed a change from IRQ5 to IRQ9 in real-time, as the SBLive Emulation driver was loading and had detected a conflict!  This was Kewl…

d. DMA & ISA Legacy Exclusion

The BIOS also allows for specific DMAs and IRQs to be exclusively reserved for ISA card usage. However, with ISA as a dying standard and the board only sporting 1 ISA connector, this was probably included as an adhoc backward compatibility.

e. Power LED

The inclusion of a bright green Power LED on the motherboard is also another welcome addition for discerning if the motherboard is “Alive” and running at any stage.

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