Technical insight greatly apreciated for Franken Alpha

Discussion in 'Xbox (Original console)' started by Hishimura, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. Hishimura

    Hishimura Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    2
    Greetings fellow members, I will preface this with I am aware this has been asked many times and I apologize for making a new thread for this but I hope that with the help of those with the knowledge, that a clear concise picture can be painted for newcomers who wish to undertake this project as well
    My question is the acceptable hardware required to run the alpha xdk I will put below what I have surmised

    Motherboard: Intel Desktop Board vc820
    Processor: Intel Pentium 3 @733Mhz clock 256k cache and 133Mhs bus speed socket 370 ( Slot 1 adapter card required )
    RAM: 128mb RDRAM ( 128mb stick with terminator in 2nd slot )
    GPU: Nvidia Geforce 2 GPU @x Mhz with 64 mb on board ram (requires an "engineering bios" )
    Peripherals:
    PCI slot usb card
    PCI slot ethernet card (intel pro 100 from what I have gathered)
    AMR slot audio card ( I have no conclusive info on what type my research gave me the impression of a custom MS solution )
    Removable Media Drive: IDE DVD/CD ROM drive (not brand/model specific)
    Storage Drive: IDE Hard drive ( 20 GB is the minimum but size is not limited )
    Also I wish to thank a fellow user Borman for providing the info about the ram and storage/media drives ( I hope he won't be mad about mentioning him )
    Anyway I hope this information helps and I would apreciate any new/correctional info

    Cheers, Hishimura
    P.S I would like to setup a dev environment for original xbox applications, if anyone is kind enough to provide information to do so you have my gratitude
     
    CodeAsm likes this.
  2. Syclopse

    Syclopse .

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,517
    Likes Received:
    539
    Armorant likes this.
  3. Armorant

    Armorant Spirited Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    57
    I'm building my Franken now and I still dont get what videocard it must have.
    Judging by that thread:
    https://www.se7ensins.com/forums/threads/diy-replica-alpha-ii-tower-xdk.1283173/
    it says it must be ms-8837 or nv-1017 card. The first one is NV15 based GF2 card and the second one is NV20 GF3 card (and it's probably Ti500 analog of the OEM GF3 Quadro version). And one more about ms-8837 - I think the nearest thing in Europe is ms-8826 model and it MIGHT(?) work.
    And that thread also said about GF3 usage:
    http://codeasm.com/component/content/article/37-xboxalpha/92-xboxalphabuild.html
    And more of that, every youtube video you might find about Xbox XDK and it's insides shows NV-1017 GF3 card. For example assembler himself shown that:

    ###
    So, make it short. I don't get why the NV15 based GF2 should work on Alpha Tower at all cause NV2a (retail XBOX gpu) is based on NV20 chip which is definitely GF3. Everyone shows only GF3 card in these videos.
    ---Why someone mention GF2?
    ---And what about Engineering GPU BIOS? Indeed, that is what every working Original/Franken shows up during boot process. Is there any way to change my Asus V8200 card BIOS to be compatible with?
    ---Some cards do have DVI out. Is it works?
    That's all about GPU I wanted to ask for now.
    ###
    And what about MOBO? I do have cc820 that is said (on Se7enSins) to be working. If it's about i820 chipset when there are few more boards that MIGHT work but they are really hard to find: Gigabyte GA-6CX, Iwill DS133-R, Micro-Star MS-6301, RioWorks PU82A, SOLTEK SL-67KV, Transcend TS-AWE3, Transcend TS-ACA1, AOpen AX6C-L, ASUS P3C2000.
    ---Do I need some custom BIOS?
    ---And what about RAM limitation? I saw a video with original AT that has 2x256mb PC700 and PC800 and it works. VC820 limitation is pc100 or pc133. How could it be? Maybe it's VM or something.
    ###
    And what about XDK 3251 disks? There are two images: the bigger one must be recovery disc (that doesn't work for me) and the smallest i don't know what for. I thought thats an image of a HDD from working unit but it is not.
    ###
    I do understand that building an Alpha is not that simple and I probably looks not that smart cause I'm stuck with simple things but that's how the thing are for now.
    Current set:
    -cc820 MOBO
    -Asus V8200 GF3 card
    -2x256mb pc133
    -Pro 100 M
    -1Ghz P3
    And I still see nothing exept wrong MBR or wrong disket. I changed boot priority and deal with primary and secondary IDE slots.
    ###
    Sorry, Syclopse, I just saw your links about GPU and other stuff. Thank Your.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
    Leang likes this.
  4. Syclopse

    Syclopse .

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,517
    Likes Received:
    539
    Off hand, Intel VC820 if I recall correctly, and my other links in the post above identifies nic, usb and video cards.

    No custom bios on VGA or mobo is needed.
    Haven't tried with P3 1000, mine are (A1)P3 600 and (A2)P3 733
    HDD should be 20GB or greater.
    I would look up my part number information I've posted and search eBay so there's less hair pulling when trying to boot these up.

    Seeing I'm rebuilding my PC from 1997 right now I may fire up a couple Alpha kits and replace parts to see what boots and what doesn't with parts switched out.
     
    Armorant likes this.
  5. Armorant

    Armorant Spirited Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    57
    I have no need in flashing Alpha.rom into my GF3 card at all like id was described by the link above? It has 3.20 romversion right now but it's not Engineering Sample. I will continue my tries. Probably kerneldebug will help to understand my fault, need to read more.
    A1 and A2 has different CPU frequency. That's all? Did A1 also had GF3 card in it? Still don't get why GF2 was mention in the guide from se7ensins. I used that guide as the first and the primary and maybe that was my mistake. Don't know. Thanks again for VGA BIOS think, i'll try it anyway.
     
  6. Syclopse

    Syclopse .

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,517
    Likes Received:
    539
    All were upgraded from A1 to A2 with 733/128/GF3/Sound I believe. My Alpha 1 had no sound card and a 600Mhz CPU, Only guy I know who would know all this stuff is @oldengineer in regards to GF2's being used or not.

    @CodeAsm successfully built a Franken-Alpha and got it to boot so he can chime in as well. Maybe he has the link to his build here on AG.
     
    CodeAsm likes this.
  7. CodeAsm

    CodeAsm ohci_write: Bad offset 30

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,500
    Likes Received:
    176
    This post will be edited to contain my (succesfull) setup. Some requirements are strickt, others can be derived from. im currently dumping my PS1 memorycards and found the box containing my (franken) alpha parts. Some of you found the Recovery disks and aslo the XDK pc side installer, dont confuse those ;) the autorun and setup are the PC side of things, the recovery "can" be read but contains a default.exe and dashboard files. please check kerneldebugging for if it likes your setup.
     
  8. N64 freak

    N64 freak Robust Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Messages:
    236
    Likes Received:
    155
    Leang, dark ricardo, CodeAsm and 2 others like this.
  9. CodeAsm

    CodeAsm ohci_write: Bad offset 30

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,500
    Likes Received:
    176
    I like it and for now, the link is fine. if any proto share website has it (without password?) and isnt going to get killed soon (like prototopia or mega, cause who trusts mega.co.nz?)

    Also, Thank you so much for the soundcard ;) I was planning on rebuilding mine today, but well, things got in the way. maybe later. People are a bit confused, XBOX052001.iso is the XDK software, is for your PC. (got some pms about this).
    For the alpha itself, not required. Get Recovery.iso (c4e7ad1c4f766a0642db283011c04765) , "3146.3_Dec_00 - Alpha Xbox 1 recovery disc.rar" or Feb_2001_AlphaII _Recovery.rar

    When your Alpha is running, maybe try installing the XDK on a seperate "development" pc (including, first the C++ studio shenanigans). It would be another small tutorial... but most only need the alpha recovery and get those games on there by i think cdrom/dvd or xboxneiberhood (newer work too? I hope, else, install the XDK)

    Anyway, all enjoy and please read N64 freaks post, hes right, most parts are just fine, as long as the IC that is used matches those of the xbox alpha. or atleast, for the xbox kernel ;) so maybe you found a rebranded card, some random memory that fits the slots or a weird kreon drive you want to try... even tho the alpha cant read xbox disks (!? u silly u)
    im gonna do it... for fun. also use the same tower as dumping station.

    for the files, I might remove em from my site, but only if there are alternative options. or, simple ask here on ag some people. it cannot be lost anymore ;)
     
    Armorant and dark ricardo like this.
  10. Armorant

    Armorant Spirited Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    57
    It works, only two things left :).
    CC820 MOBO works;
    ASUS V8200 works;
    2x256mb PC133 works;
    PIII 1.0Ghz works.
    I'll try to use 64Gb DOM (Disk On Module) unit and 160 PicoPSU in it. Have to get rid of CD-ROM to make it easy for PSU. Actualy I already have v1.4 128Mb that works with that DOM but it seems to be too fast for an old system. Even INDBios bootlogo play only half of it's length. Very quick boot but sometimes it hangs :(. Hope it caused by a very short HW initialization period on retail unit.
    Syclopse, CodeAsm, Borman, N64 Freak and many others. This would never happens without Your work and help. Thanks a lot.
     

    Attached Files:

    Syclopse and CodeAsm like this.
  11. CodeAsm

    CodeAsm ohci_write: Bad offset 30

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,500
    Likes Received:
    176
    Weirdly mine doesnt work. cant find the symbols either... cant read the error from the kernel... :( tomorrow a new day.
    @Armorant Awesome work :D
     
  12. dark ricardo

    dark ricardo Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    15
    Congratulations! i have many questions about like:
    1. how much ram and procesor the xbox alpha bios support?
    2.Emulators and normal xbox games from hdd works?
    3.Any bios limitations for the hdd size ?
    4.The software boot from disc at first install then when already installed load the bios like the phoenix bios launcher or how this work?
     
  13. Armorant

    Armorant Spirited Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    57
    Well, by "work" I meant that I were able to see recovery screen with "press smthng to format HDD". I thought you got the same on your video. Isn't that screen says that it passes all HW specific checks?
    I still don't have usb and audio card but I will.
    @dark ricardo sorry but I can't say anything for now cause I'm stuck with that screen. Have to find a usb card. I doubt about Phoenix BIOS loader on it I think it will crash the system and you have to reboot it.
     
    CodeAsm likes this.
  14. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Messages:
    9,559
    Likes Received:
    2,217
    Normal Xbox games won't work.
     
  15. Armorant

    Armorant Spirited Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    57
  16. Borman

    Borman Digital Games Curator

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Messages:
    9,559
    Likes Received:
    2,217
    Its completely different hardware. If you want to play Morrowind on it, install Windows 2000 like most developers did and play it that way :p
     
    Armorant likes this.
  17. CodeAsm

    CodeAsm ohci_write: Bad offset 30

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,500
    Likes Received:
    176
    Nope, the PE file structure is diferent, the Kernel is compiled sligtly diferently (differnt hardware, so diferent drivers, probably mean diferent calls or arguments)
    Basicly your better off if you have the sourcecode and compile it with the XDK supplied for Alpha kits.

    I got mine working again (silly mistakes) and tested some common "mistakes" to determine by Kerneldebugging whats wrong (cause mostly we wont see anything). ill post that list after this post.
    if you get a Stuck Xbox logo, for instance the "flare" is stuck near the B of Xbox, your network card might be not correctly initilized and KD shows some weird errors, try it in pci slot 4.

    @Borman in what PCI slots can you put the network card to make it work and does you Alpha(s) come with onboard sound/network or whatever? maybe because those are missing on mine it wont work in some slots (it also works in slot 1, but its so close to the GPU)

    @dark ricardo
    1. how much ram and procesor the xbox alpha bios support?
    I think 64 was minimum, but I only have a 128mb stick as minimum and it only apeared to boot with the full 2 sticks total up to 256mb ram. (could be a bios setting). according to the manual of the VC820, 512 is also the max.

    2.Emulators and normal xbox games from hdd works?
    No..see above comment about patching, it will not work. if you have sourcecode, you might be able to compile it for the alpha, but not if its too depending on XBox specific libs that dont excist yet on the Alpha. If its mostly free of MS code and video stuff is "easely" translated to normal pc grahics code, you might be lucky. (the purpose of an alpha is to be questioned if you seek to play retail games or emulators for their "fun" factor.

    3.Any bios limitations for the hdd size ?
    software want 20gig or bigger, according to this "trust worthy" forumpost: https://www.windowsbbs.com/threads/hard-drive-not-recognizing-full-capability.17865/ it should handel 8.4 or greater, next barrier is 138gig. Just get a smaller hdd than 138 then ;) again, why own a alpha?

    4.The software boot from disc at first install then when already installed load the bios like the phoenix bios launcher or how this work?

    The disk is like a windows install disk or Linux bootable disk, it contains a bootloader. it load a kernel and shell wich helps you install the stuff on the hdd (very similiar to a normal windows install) on the HDD, you get a MBR if there is none, some "windows" like files like autoexec and I believe some other general windows 2000 era boot files to start the xbox kernel (wich is at this point very very windows 2000 related, just with the drivers buildin, so we cant change hardware or it wont detect it, maybe even "crash"). anyway, XBOXROM probably is the kernel that gets loaded into memory and started by the "customized" bootloader MS made. maybe someone could use "regular" bootloader parts to boot this kernel, but for what use?

    So there is no phoenix loader of some type, its just "windows" booting. be it, the kernel is diferent, and drivers are buildin, cannot (easely) changed. for all those who want to run retail... No... simply put, imposible. but only if you understand the windows kernel, its developement, how a xbox truly works, maybe have worked on a xbox emulator or tools for it, you might understand what I mean, and be able to disprove the "imposible"... lots of work and reverseenginering to be done. Again, for what purpose? question your reasoning for why wanting an Alpha and your idea to run X on it?. sofar, its good for Alpha games Borman shared, compiling code with the Alpha XDK (like samples that where included, or port some newer ones.. most wont work) and collecting dev hardware.
    • Emulation? nope, this isnt helping emulation.
    • Porting games to PC? your doing it wrong.
    • Porting windows to xbox? your close, but dont use the alpha for this.
    • collecting dust? yes, and maybe happiness while building it and sharing your accomplisment.
     
    Armorant and dark ricardo like this.
  18. CodeAsm

    CodeAsm ohci_write: Bad offset 30

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,500
    Likes Received:
    176
    I made some notes while removing or purposly incorrectly install things with the 3521 recovery. Older ones I could not get to work (all kernel errors that seem to indicate wrong hardware)
    I asume that you try to build an Xbox Alpha2, because I havent been able to make a Alpha1.
    This list might be wrong, or specific for my VC820 mobo, if you have an original Alpha, please PM or reply with your details and findings. ill either update this list or post a corrected one based on your findings. I asume the PCI network errors might be more depending on the motherboard than generaly by the MS kernel.

    A working HDD on the bus, with jumpers, master for hdd and slave for the dvdrom drive, did work on the secondary bus I think. its weird, try swapping and keep an eye on the kernel output
     
    Armorant likes this.
  19. CodeAsm

    CodeAsm ohci_write: Bad offset 30

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,500
    Likes Received:
    176
    Kerneldebug under linux using qemu works. ive installed Windows XP, and Windbg 6.12.0002 (wich is "new")
    Connect a rs232 adapter to your computer or use the build in one if you have. notice wich tty you now have or belongs to your port. ("screen /dev/tty01" works with a wirebridge over TX and RX (pin 2 and 3))

    im using an ftdi adapter and can do USB forwarding, ive added:
    -usb -usbdevice host:0403:6001
    To my qemu startup and windows installed the drivers. Putty can be used to test with rx/tx connected if your "echo" comes back.
    Windbg has remote kernel debug over serial configured correctly and you should directly be able to see output when the XBox alpha boots. (ive used com2 on the alpha mostly) under qemu there is a comport already and my ftdi became com3 ;)
     
    Armorant, dark ricardo and Syclopse like this.
  20. Armorant

    Armorant Spirited Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    57
    Okay:(
    But what about Development Kit (DK for short)? I always thought that Xbox was just a custom PC with Windows based kernel.
    First they build Alpha Towers (AT), second are DK units (with RS232 port) and third are Retail and Chihiro units. Is where any photo of DK motherboard? Does it looks like retail? Cause if they are the same and if retail unit will never be able to launch AT dev xbe isn't that means that AT xbe file and DK xbe are different? Can the retail unit execute the DK xbe (after conversion)? I thought that all were the same, just some dev/retail conversion problems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017

Share This Page