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PC Configuration Tips
ISA Imaging Boards

13 JANUARY 1998

For use with:
EPIX Imaging Hardware
EPIX Imaging Software

Copyright © 1998 EPIX, Inc.
No part of this document may be reproduced, transmitted, photocopied, or translated into another language without the written consent of EPIX, Inc. Information in this document is subject to change without obligation or notice. EPIX, Inc. makes no warranty of any kind with regard to this document, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. EPIX, Inc. assumes no responsibility for any errors that may appear in this document. EPIX, Inc. reserves the right to make changes to the specifications of hardware and software at any time, without obligation or notice.


EPIX and SILICON VIDEO are registered trademarks of EPIX, Inc.

Other brand, product, and company names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Printing: 17-Mar-1999

1. PC Configuration Tips - ISA Cards

Required Resources

EPIX imaging products for IBM PC compatible computers require conflict free configuration of resources for successful use. If the EPIX imaging hardware is assigned to use resources already in use, the resulting configuration conflict can produce a wide variety of symptoms: at one extreme the PC may not boot, at the other extreme all devices may appear to function but with intermittent failures.

The three types of resources that hardware may require are:

  1. Memory segment(s). A section of PC memory address space, unused by PC physical memory, virtual memory, or other hardware devices. The memory segment configuration is the most common source of conflict, because of: (a) The limited amount of free memory address space under 1 MB, (b) The large number of programs, devices, and memory managers vying for memory address space, and (c) The ability of 80386 or later processors to dynamically reassign the memory address space.

    Unlike interrupt vector or I/O port conflicts, which are due to hardware conflicts, memory conflicts can be caused by conflicting software options, such as those specified in CONFIG.SYS.

  2. Interrupt vector(s) (IRQ's). A vector assignment used by EPIX imaging hardware to interrupt the PC. Interrupt vectors can often be shared with other devices, so long as only one device is in active use at any one time. For example, the IRQ 3 used by EPIX imaging boards is also the COM2 interrupt vector.
  3. I/O port(s). Control registers by which the PC controls EPIX imaging hardware. I/O ports may never be shared with other devices.
The resources required by current EPIX imaging hardware, and their default choices are shown in the following table:
Hardware Memory I/O Port(s) Interrupt(s)
Segment(s) (IRQ's)

SILICON VIDEO MUX One 64K segment 16 1
factory default D0000-DFFFF (hex) 300-30F (hex) IRQ 3
alternates (base) 9,A,E segments [a] 310 [b] 2,4,5,6,7 [c]

4MEG VIDEO One 64K segment 4 1
factory default D0000-DFFFF (hex) 280-283 (hex) IRQ 3
alternates (base) E segment [d] 290 [b] 5,7 [c]

COC40x One 64K segment 4 1
factory default D0000-DFFFF (hex) 288 (hex) IRQ4
alternates (base) E segment [e] 250,258,260,268,280 5,7,9,10,11,12,14 [g]
290,298,300,308 [f]

12-7MUX 1
factory default 320 (hex)
alternates (base) 0 thru 3FF [h]

DLDIG R.2.0 4
factory default 310 (hex)
alternates (base) 200,210,220,230,300,320,330 [i]

DLDIG R.2.1,R.2.1.A 7
factory default 310 (hex)
alternates (base) 200,210,220,230,300,320,330 [i]

DLANG R.1.0 4
factory default 310 (hex)
alternates (base) 200,210,220,230,300,320,330 [i]

RETI R.1.0 4
factory default 310 (hex)
alternates (base) 200,210,220,230,300,320,330 [i]

XHF R.1.0 16
factory default 310 (hex)
alternates (base) 300,320 [i]
EPIX imaging hardware provides alternate settings of the resources, to avoid configuration conflicts. The User's Manual for the specific EPIX imaging hardware should be consulted for details on the selection of alternate resources.

Identifying Resources

Using MSD.EXE. The Microsoft MSD.EXE program, provided with Windows 3.1, DOS 6.0, C 7.0, and other Microsoft programs is a valuable tool for identifying use of memory and other resources. If the EPIX imaging hardware is to be used under Windows 3.x or Windows 95/98, run MSD.EXE from within a Windows DOS box.

Within MSD, use its ''M'' command to view memory address space usage. A memory segment shown as ''Available'' (shown as dark black) is probably available (but make sure the entire segment is available!), a memory segment shown as ''Possible Available'' (shown as dots), ''RAM'' (shown as dark grey), ''ROM'' (shown as light grey), or any other choice is probably already in use. The memory segment used by EPIX imaging boards will not appear in the MSD memory usage display unless the imaging board is in active use[1].

Within MSD, use its ''Q'' command to view interrupt vector usage. An interrupt vector shown as:

    Detected        Handled By
    --------        ----------
    No              BIOS
is probably available.

Unfortunately, MSD.EXE can't report on I/O Port usage. Nor can it observe resources allocated while a program runs, unless the program has a ''DOS Escape'' allowing MSD.EXE to run after the program has started.

Hints on Specific Programs and Devices

4MIP & SVIP. Each time 4MIP and SVIP programs are run, quick tests of the hardware configuration are performed. These tests will usually fail if a configuration conflict exists, producing an error message suggestive of the possible cause of the problem.

Because of the nature of configuration conflicts, the specific error message can only be suggestive; an I/O port conflict may appear to the program as a problem in accessing memory, or vice versa. As configuration conflicts may appear intermittently, 4MIP and SVIP quick tests may not observe the problem; even if 4MIP or SVIP appear to start successfully, a configuration conflict may prevent the imaging board from operating properly!

Windows 3.x and Windows 95/98. Under Windows 3.x, MSD should be run twice; once under DOS to detect conflicts due to hardware or features enabled in CONFIG.SYS, and a second time in a Windows DOS Box to detect conflicts created by Windows.

The MSD command is not provided with Windows 95/98, but MSD from an old version of DOS can be used as described above, or MSD can be obtained from Microsoft's FTP site[2]. Alternately, in Windows 95 the system's resources can be viewed and configured within the Control Panel. Double click the System icon, select the Device Manager, then double click the Computer icon. The Computer window allows viewing the resources used, such as IRQ's, I/O ports, DMA channels, and memory segments. The same window also allows reserving these resources for use by EPIX imaging hardware. Depending on the options used when Windows 95 was installed, assignment of resources in the Computer window may not be effective; the SYSTEM.INI must be modified, as follows.

Advise Windows 3.x or Windows 95 not to utilize the EPIX imaging hardware's memory segment. Assuming use of the D0000 memory segment, in Windows' SYSTEM.INI file, in the section titled:

add, or modify if already present, the line:
where the address range corresponds to the EPIX imaging hardware's memory segment[3]. Make certain that no line such as:
appears which specifies an address range which overlaps the EPIX imaging hardware's memory segment.

Advise Windows to not activate a COM port using the same IRQ as the EPIX imaging hardware's interrupt vector. Assuming use of IRQ 3, which is also used by COM2, in Windows' SYSTEM.INI file, in the section titled:

add, or modify if already present, the line:
where the ''2'' selects the particular COM port. (When IRQ 3 is used: this is typically needed only when a serial mouse is on COM1, forcing Windows to activate COM2).

Some PC's may be too slow to allow proper operation of a SILICON VIDEO MUX under Windows 3.x in enhanced mode. The performance under Windows 3.x of a SILICON VIDEO MUX prior to Rev. F may be enhanced with ECO S27, and/or by running Windows 3.x in Standard mode, using:


Windows NT. Under Windows NT, EPIX imaging drivers request assignment of resources from Win NT, and report:

    Resource Conflict - See WIN32 Event Log
if the resources are not granted. The Event Log, viewed by the Event Viewer, will show the other device(s) which are using resources requested by the EPIX imaging hardware.

EMM386.SYS. For application programs running in protected mode, or in a DOS box of Windows, current versions of EMM386.SYS (such as supplied with DOS V6.0) unnecessarily delay interrupt response. Use of EMM386.SYS is not recommended.

The effects of EMM386.SYS on real mode application programs appear to be benign. If EMM386.SYS is to be used, advise EMM386.SYS not to utilize the EPIX imaging hardware's memory segment. Assuming use of the D0000 memory segment, for example:2

    DEVICE=C:\DOS\EMM386.EXE X=D000-DFFF ...
Consult the EMM386.SYS documentation for a discussion of these and other options.

QEMM, 386Max, etc. As discussed for EMM386.SYS, third party memory managers must be advised not to utilize the EPIX imaging hardware's memory segment, and not to delay hardware interrupt response. The flexible and volatile nature of these programs precludes offering specific advice; the memory manager's technical support staff should be consulted, perhaps FAXing[4] this application note to the support person in order to clarify the types of conflicts that must be avoided.

SCSI Disks and Tapes. SCSI interface cards usually add ROM BIOS to the PC address space, with D0000 being a common address. Often, the configuration conflict isn't noticed until attempting to load or save an image to the SCSI disk; accessing the SCSI disk with the imaging board simultaneously1 active may garble the image data or trash the contents of the disk! The SCSI card, or the imaging board, should be reconfigured to use nonconflicting addresses.

Adaptec SCSI Interface Cards. Some Adaptec cards appear to physically reserve an IRQ (by holding the IRQ signal low) even though no interrupt vector is set. Since the interrupt vector is not set, MSD can't detect that the IRQ is ``in use.'' Consult the Adaptec documentation to check which IRQ is used, rather than depending upon MSD, and reconfigure the Adaptec card, or the imaging board, to use nonconflicting IRQs.

VGA Adapters. When in graphics mode, VGA adapters use the A0000 memory segment; some use the A0000 segment even when not in graphics mode.

Some VGA adapters, when operating in 16 bit mode, erroneously use the D0000 memory segment. If such an adapter has a jumper to select 8 bit or 16 bit mode, choose the 8 bit mode. Alternately, the adapter may be installed in an 8 bit ISA PC slot to force 8 bit mode.

COM2. The COM2 serial port uses interrupt vector IRQ 3, and therefore potentially conflicts with the default interrupt vector assigned to EPIX imaging boards. Using the COM2 port with (for example) a serial mouse while an EPIX imaging board is actively used will cause a conflict. Either assign the imaging board a different interrupt vector (IRQ), or connect the serial device (mouse) to a different serial port.

Network Interface Cards. The default configuration of many network interface cards (NIC) uses I/O ports starting at 300, which conflicts with the default I/O ports for the SILICON VIDEO MUX imaging board. Either the NIC or the SILICON VIDEO MUX imaging board must be reconfigured.

Pentium BIOS. Some versions of the BIOS on Pentium machines may have options which prevent programs from accessing hardware devices in the D0000 segment. In the ''Advanced CMOS Setup'', set:

    Disable Shadow Memory Size        64K
    Disable Shadow Memory Base      D0000
In other versions, in the ''Plug & Play'', set:
    ISA Shared Memory Size            64K
    ISA Shared Memory Base Address  D0000
    ISA Mem Block Base              D0000
    ISA Mem Block Size                64K
    Reserved Memory Size              64K
    Reserved Memory Address         D0000
In still other versions, in the ''Advanced Chip Set'' set
    Expansion Ram                   Video

Intel BIOS. To allow the use of imaging boards in the D0000 segment. Intel Pentium BIOS Rev 1.03.AX1Z, and earlier, must be upgraded to a later revision.

Phoenix BIOS w. Triton Chip Set. To allow the use of imaging boards in the D0000 segment. Phoenix Pentium BIOS Rev 4.04-M54MI-02PM must be upgraded to a later revision, such as the -08PM.

Last Resort

If unable to otherwise identify the source of configuration conflicts, trial and error may be used. Remove all add-in boards, other than the EPIX imaging hardware, the VGA adapter, and disk controller. Comment out unnecessary options in CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT, in particular disable any device drivers or memory managers. After reboot, use the DOS command:

to check that no unnecessary device drivers have been installed. After verifying that the EPIX imaging hardware functions correctly, reinstall the removed devices and re-enable options in CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT, one by one, checking for proper operation.

2. PC Configuration Tips - Miscellaneous

DOS: Mice & Screens.

In the SVIP or 4MIP programs for DOS, if moving the mouse causes transient glitches on the PC screen, the wrong mouse driver may be in use. Some mice appear to work with the standard Microsoft mouse driver; but function better with their own driver which is Microsoft compatible.

DOS: Super VGA Mode.

The 4MIP and SVIP programs for DOS support Super VGA adapters which provide VESA BIOS support. Adapters without VESA BIOS support will be operated in VGA mode. Within MSD, the ''V'' command will show whether VESA BIOS support is available. For adapters lacking VESA BIOS support, a TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident program) supplied by the Super VGA adapter manufacturer must be loaded before 4MIP or SVIP is run.

For S/VGA modes which provide 224 colors, some S/VGA cards require 2 Mbyte of S/VGA memory, but allow switching to this mode even when only 1 Mbyte of memory is installed. The symptom is a VGA screen wraparound, which appears about 5 text lines from the top and/or bottom. Additional memory should be added to the S/VGA card, a different S/VGA card used, or forgo color display by use of the ''-svga 640x480x8'' command line option.

Windows: Colors & Grey Levels.

The 4MIP and SVIP programs for Windows display images on the S/VGA monitor. The quality of the displayed images is dependent on Window's settings and operation of the S/VGA card. The default Windows 95 installation, for example, may use the 16 Color setting, resulting in poor quality image display! For Windows 95 and Windows NT, the settings can be modified in the ''Control Panel'', ''Display'', ''Settings''.

A ''256 Color'' setting is suggested for display of monochrome images, a ''True Color (24 bit or 16777216 Color)'' or ''True Color (32 bit)'' setting is suggested for display of color or pseudo-colored images. After changing the settings a full shutdown and CTRL+ALT+DEL reboot should be used. (The quick restart offered by older versions of Windows 95, and the dynamic VGA reconfiguration performed by newer versions of Windows 95/98, may not re-initialize all devices properly).

Authorization Keys.

Some versions of EPIX imaging software are provided with an authorization key which must be connected to printer parallel port 1, 2, or 3. Should software advise that the authorization key is not found:

  1. Within MSD, use ''L'' to check whether any LPT ports are configured,
  2. Check that the key is connected to printer parallel port 1, 2, or 3, and not to an RS-232 or other port using the same style connector,[5]
  3. Check that multiple parallel port adapters with the same port number aren't installed or enabled,[6]
  4. Check that the BIOS setting, if any, for the printer port allows PC-AT compatibility. A typical BIOS Setup entry is:
        Parallel Port Type      Compatible
    Settings such as:
        Parallel Port Type      EPP
        Parallel Port Type      ECP
    may prevent recognition of the key, or may prevent reliable printing.
  5. On some combinations of PC and printers, the authorization key may not be recognized if the printer (connected to the back of the authorization key) is powered off; either disconnect the printer cable or turn the printer on.
  6. On certain PC's, the printer port and therefore the authorization key may be improperly reset during boot. Under DOS or Windows 95/98, add:
        HLRESET.COM     (precede with path name to directory of EPIX software!)
    as the last line of AUTOEXEC.BAT to reset the key.

Installing Software from FTP Site.

When installing EPIX imaging software obtained from the EPIX FTP site, the file downloaded is a single .exe file which, when executed, asks which directory should be created, and expands into a group of files into that directory. Often, the file downloaded has the same name as a file which is to be created; causing a problem if the downloaded .exe file is placed into, and executed from, the same directory specified as the location for the expanded files. Either download the .exe file into the root or a different directory (you can remove it after the installation is complete) or change its name before execution, such as:


3. Footnotes

The SILICON VIDEO MUX memory segment is software selectable. Use of the ''9'' segment requires a PC with no more than 512 Kbyte of memory. Use of the ''A'' segment will conflict with VGA cards in graphics mode. Other memory segment alternatives may be custom ordered.
The I/O Port is jumper selectable. Other I/O port alternatives may be custom ordered.
The IRQ is jumper selectable.
The memory segment is jumper selectable. Other memory segment alternatives may be custom ordered.
The memory segment is software selectable. The COC40x 64K memory segment is shared with the 4MEG VIDEO's 64K memory segment; only one 64K segment is required.
The I/O Port is rotary switch selectable. EPIX imaging software requires that the selected I/O port address be 8 higher than the attached 4MEG VIDEO's I/O port address. Other I/O port alternatives may be custom ordered.
The COC40x interrupt is not activated by current EPIX imaging software; this resource can therefore conflict with other usages of IRQ4.
The I/O Port is DIP switch selectable.
The I/O Port is rotary switch selectable. Other I/O port alternatives may be custom ordered.
When not in use, EPIX imaging boards disable use of the assigned memory segment; allowing devices with similar behavior to share a memory segment so long as only one device is in use at any given time.
As of Nov. 96, in //ftp.microsoft.com.softlib/msfiles/emm622.exe.
The convention used to set memory addresses is different from that used elsewhere; memory segment ''D'', for example, is written as hexadecimal address ''D0000'' (four zeroes), but should be entered as ''D000'' (three zeroes).
Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and/or transmit this document for purposes related to the configuration of EPIX imaging hardware, if the original copyright notice is included.
Connectionion to a 25 pin serial (RS-232) port, or to any other interface which happens to use the same style connector, may permanently damage the authorization key, and void its warranty.
Multiple parallel port adapters set at the same port number may have no adverse impact on printer operation; but an authorization key attached to these ports will not operate correctly. The printing operation only writes to the port, while the authorization key must be read as well as written. Even though the printer works, the parallel port adapter configuration must still be checked.

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