BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby mikro » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:09 pm

Is there any simpler / more straightforward tutorial available? There's a lot of information put there, some obsolete, some non-working... Something like schematics - needed parts - installation photo.

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:27 am

mikro wrote:Is there any simpler / more straightforward tutorial available? There's a lot of information put there, some obsolete, some non-working... Something like schematics - needed parts - installation photo.


Its the first DMA image on the page is all you need to do. There is a SIL resistor and a capacitor on the DMA, you don't need the capacitor just solder the SIL array has shown.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fac

Postby redhawk668 » Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:12 pm

Well, I am going to sell the STE with the bad DMA. I've bought a refurbished STE with a good DMA from eBay, with 4 mb and TOS 2.06. Now waiting till it arrives.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:34 pm

I'm closing this thread. Its pointless to keep this thread open when everyone is convinced with the bad dma myth.

Incidentally, I have a so called "good DMA" 001 in a STE I am testing now and that has write corruptions. So the 001A is not the holy grail its made out to be. As to what everyone will do when their "good DMA" starts to have write corruptions.....
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby Greenious » Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:51 am

It is worth mentioning that Atari never officially acknowledged there was a bad DMA in STE, and that the problems with DMA operations in STE never happened with Ataris ACSI HW, only third party ACSI adapters.

It is also worth considering that the alleged "faulty" DMA, C025913-38, works perfectly OK in an ST. And since C025913 is listed as ST-DMA in all Atari documentation, and the C398739-001 is listed as STE-DMA, it does hint they are not the same.

To conclude,
it seems to me it is likely that Atari didn't get C398739-001 produced in time for the first STE's and gambled with the old ST-DMA.
Which seems to work fine at a glance, but with faster HW connected does not work well under stress with the STE chipset.
So technically there is no "bad" DMA, just bad combinations of DMA and STE.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby Greenious » Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:28 pm

I am going to unlock this thread, although from this point forward it will be moderated with a very heavy hand.

The reason is that it has a wealth of information, and it is better that people post here with their questions rather than starting new threads. (That's the way info get lost in time...)

However, posts that ask questions already answered, or posts that do not add to the subject at large, will be deleted without any warning or pardon, in order to keep the thread down in size, aswell as keep it as informative as possible.

So, if you post here and find your post deleted, either read it again, because your question is already answered and/or you are just adding to the confusion, or rephrase your question.

Thank you for your cooperation.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby mikro » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:15 am

Greenious wrote:To conclude,
it seems to me it is likely that Atari didn't get C398739-001 produced in time for the first STE's and gambled with the old ST-DMA.
Which seems to work fine at a glance, but with faster HW connected does not work well under stress with the STE chipset.
So technically there is no "bad" DMA, just bad combinations of DMA and STE.

This is an intriguing theory and it totally makes sense. However, that would imply that either the Atari branded DMA devices work only by chance (i.e. the fact they added the resistors and whatever on data lines is purely coincidental to this problem) or that they were aware of the problems since the beginning but for some reason the STE exposes this problem much more often.

What strikes me is that if either of this is true, why they had bothered to produce the new DMA chip -- all Atari DMA devices work on the STE with the old chip, nobody officially admitted anything so why bother?

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby Greenious » Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:31 am

mikro wrote:
Greenious wrote:To conclude,
it seems to me it is likely that Atari didn't get C398739-001 produced in time for the first STE's and gambled with the old ST-DMA.
Which seems to work fine at a glance, but with faster HW connected does not work well under stress with the STE chipset.
So technically there is no "bad" DMA, just bad combinations of DMA and STE.

This is an intriguing theory and it totally makes sense. However, that would imply that either the Atari branded DMA devices work only by chance (i.e. the fact they added the resistors and whatever on data lines is purely coincidental to this problem) or that they were aware of the problems since the beginning but for some reason the STE exposes this problem much more often.

What strikes me is that if either of this is true, why they had bothered to produce the new DMA chip -- all Atari DMA devices work on the STE with the old chip, nobody officially admitted anything so why bother?


C398739 which is DIP-40 and the PLCC-44 C398789 equivalent are both used in STE/MSTE/TT.

Ie, atari abandoned the ST specific DMAs, (CO25913 , C100110), with their newer machines even though it is pin compatible.

Even more plausible is that they didn't discover there was a slight problem with the ST-DMA in STE until actually launching the machine, and quietly replaced it, perhaps because the recall would be too expensive.

However, I have no doubt what so ever that Atari did indeed test CO25913 in STE extensively before launching the STE, albeit it is also likely they didn't test it with third-party hardware.

In any case, I have not in my experience met a lot of people with HDD problems that has been due to a "bad" DMA, I can easily count them on one hand. In many ways I do find this topic exagerrated, while at the same time I also think it has merit. It's a topic that people need to be aware of, at the same time I do find the hype around it a bit hysterical.

I remember it being discussed at BBS's at the time, and it does keep popping up at regular intervals here and elsewhere on the net. (Which also is a reason I decided to unlock the thread, since I know ppl will dig up this topic in 6 months, a year or so from now, and we already got a number of threads discussing this if you care to search the forum) And every time the topic resurface, the "problem" seem to grow...

Edit: In my guide thread I have put a collection of Atari Technical Bulletins, some of them refer to floppy drive problems, which might explain why some people have problems with that. Since the "dma bug" never, atleast not until recently, has been known to affext anything but harddrives...
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:33 pm

Some more work was done on this over the past couple of weeks.

Read more here.
http://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/DMAfix/index.htm#LATEST

As a round up, I am still yet to see a -38 fail on a STE after some mods have been tried. It all boils down to noise on the bus. Cure the noise, cure the problem.

As said before, my STE's all have the -38 and I have more issues with floppy drives than the hard drive. I have no reason to believe the -38 are faulty and no reason to believe the -38 refuse to work on the STE.

It is possible that very early STE's had some higher SIL resistors on the bus than later ones. I suspect Atari changed them in future STE batches to "solve" the DMA issues, but later found there was still issues so moved over to the 001A DMA which was more immune to noise. Even so, its not conclusive as not enough people with machines to verify such things, but its not really important anyway.

I am concluding this "faulty DMA" myth as busted and research has been drawn to a close.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby oehansen » Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:57 am

I've been running a home made hard drive, which is a PIC32, with an USB. It has worked for several years now, without any of the legendary problems. The PIC has it's own powersupply, which I think is noteworthy.

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:10 pm

I have in my possession 2 confirmed DMA's ( -38) which fail on the STE with the "write failure" typically after just a few moments of operation.

Jookie was kind enough to write me a testing program to do the tests I wanted and the results are perfect as can be seen from below.

1.jpg


Over 100 sectors were tested in Read and Write loops for some hours. Even the sector order was tested. The first couple of bytes of each sector (1 sector shown in image) have the sector number, so first sector shows 00 00 , sector 1 shows 00 01 etc etc, So each sector's data and sector number was verified. Clearly these DMA's have no write issues..

The odd thing is, as soon as I create a folder on desktop, it corrupts the drive (likely FAT). I have also compared sector data from a -38 DMA to a 001 DMA and it looks like the sectors end up with garbage data in random sectors. Not sure why yet.

I have made good progress in diagnosing the faults these past weeks. Though the bottom line conclusion still doesn't change that it is noise on the bus which is causing these issues. Obviously as the same -38's work in my MEGA ST , and not the STE, then it's the STE itself which is to blame, not the DMA IC itself.

Now I have these 2 strange behaving DMA IC's , I have something I can now actually debug. Though my conclusion before about there being "bad DMA chips" still has not changed. I should had some more interesting info in about a months time.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby jvas » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:16 pm

The fact, that the DMA works in a MegaSTE and not in the STE, doesn't necessary mean, that the DMA is OK. It can also mean, that the MegaSTE is more tolerant to the bad timing of a possibly wrong DMA.

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:31 pm

jvas wrote:The fact, that the DMA works in a MegaSTE and not in the STE, doesn't necessary mean, that the DMA is OK. It can also mean, that the MegaSTE is more tolerant to the bad timing of a possibly wrong DMA.


It does work in the STE with jookies test program. I have actually had said DMA working in the STE also, but I am not posting that work/results yet until some more investigation is done.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby rj1 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:33 pm

Interesting info, thanks.

What about removing (bridging) '245 and '244 buffers on data and control lines - can you check if it has any effect on corrupting drive with those 2 -38 DMAs?
For my badly behaving STE, this actually seems the best fix I tried so far... still testing though...

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:34 pm

rj1 wrote:Interesting info, thanks.

What about removing (bridging) '245 and '244 buffers on data and control lines - can you check if it has any effect on corrupting drive with those 2 -38 DMAs?
For my badly behaving STE, this actually seems the best fix I tried so far... still testing though...


I have removed them already, the STE circuit matches the STFM one how it is now. There is no change.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby stimpy » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:58 pm

Not sure if this helps but you might want to try a lot more patterns of test data like the sort used for testing memory. All high, all low, bit walking, ones and zeroes, lfsr etc etc.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:08 pm

stimpy wrote:Not sure if this helps but you might want to try a lot more patterns of test data like the sort used for testing memory. All high, all low, bit walking, ones and zeroes, lfsr etc etc.


Possibly, Jookie did have other tests he built into the program, but not sure what data was used ( might have been own address test , or 0101010 then 1010101, can't remember now). Though my current research has moved away from from thinking the DMA is faulty and moved away from needing to test anymore test patterns.

Previous tests were to loop test write read verify. The ACSII tested as shown in the image was when I basically found that no test would fail. The ACSII test was to display known data which was easy to read at a glance (note I had to look through 100's of sectors to verify the data was correct). Though the thoughts at the time was the data was correct, but written to the wrong sector. Though 100+ sectors and nothing failed there either.

All tests were looped though for some days and it only failed once when I shorted out 2 of the DMA data lines with my scope probe 8)
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby mikro » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:40 pm

Well, if you can still make it fail with a simple folder creation, doesn't that imply it's more about a specific scenario than a generic r/w bug? Isn't possible to snoop in Hatari what exactly is written to the DMA registers when such folder is created and replicate *that* in a separate test?

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:48 pm

mikro wrote:Well, if you can still make it fail with a simple folder creation, doesn't that imply it's more about a specific scenario than a generic r/w bug?


Scenario yes :) Its not actually a DMA fault, its a combination of a few faults which actually have nothing to do with the DMA, but ultimately cause the DMA to fail. Kinda like a bad PSU can cause the DMA to fail.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby kodak80 » Tue May 23, 2017 11:44 am

Just an update from me. I have an STE which was corrupting the files on my Satandisk when I copied files to the drive from floppy. I have finally replaced the CPU with a MC68HC000FN8 and have just sucessfully copied a large amount of files around without seeing the corruption occur. :D

Will keep testing copying files but it looks good so far. Cheap and easy fix as the CPU is socketed.
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Tue May 23, 2017 11:45 am

kodak80 wrote:Just an update from me. I have an STE which was corrupting the files on my Satandisk when I copied files to the drive from floppy. I have finally replaced the CPU with a MC68HC000FN8 and have just sucessfully copied a large amount of files around without seeing the corruption occur. :D

Will keep testing copying files but it looks good so far. Cheap and easy fix as the CPU is socketed.

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby dlfrsilver » Tue May 23, 2017 1:15 pm

kodak80 wrote:Just an update from me. I have an STE which was corrupting the files on my Satandisk when I copied files to the drive from floppy. I have finally replaced the CPU with a MC68HC000FN8 and have just sucessfully copied a large amount of files around without seeing the corruption occur. :D

Will keep testing copying files but it looks good so far. Cheap and easy fix as the CPU is socketed.


Now that sound weird..... So the processor could be at fault ? Damn ! :shrug:
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby exxos » Tue May 23, 2017 1:48 pm

dlfrsilver wrote:Now that sound weird..... So the processor could be at fault ? Damn ! :shrug:


Info been on my site about it for while now..

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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby dlfrsilver » Tue May 23, 2017 9:15 pm

That's terribly crazy :) Well i have to open my STE's and check the 68000 CPU :)
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Re: BAD DMA - Myth or fact ?

Postby EmpireAndrew » Mon May 29, 2017 1:34 pm

Ooh this is interesting news!

Those who had trouble with their -38's that were fixed with 01's should open up their machines and post the CPU markings so we can see if there is a pattern?
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