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Netier NetXpress SL2000 Notes

These are just some preliminary notes about the NetXpress SL2000. I have recently acquired one of these units minus a power supply ... and any documentation. Information on the net is sparse to non-existent.

The SL2000 is a tiny socket 7 based PC. Usually used as a thin client, it has all the guts to make a normal PC (if a tad slow by todays standards). Some interesting points;

  - socket 7, but will take some of the super socket 7 type CPUs. Mine came
    with a 180Mhz Winchip.
  - two SDRAM slots. 64mb and 128mb SDRAMs are meant to work, and 
    possibly some 256Mb ones.
  - A slot riser that allows you to connect a single PCI or ISA card (but not
    at the same time).
  - An M-Systems DiskOnChip. The one in mine
    was a 48mb flash device.
  - two IDE connectors and a floppy connector. however, the IDE connectors are
    the small laptop 44 pin connectors ... and both are in very awkward places.
  - S3 Virge GX2 video with 2mb of ram. This has S-Video and normal composite
    video out as well. Impressively, the 'TV-out' is active as soon as you 
    turn it on.
  - ESS1869 sound (soundblaster compatible)
  - two USB ports and the usual serial, parallel, PS2 ports etc.
  - Intel EEPRO 100 LAN.
The best source of info I found was at the www.emulatorshop.com website. In their support area they have info on something they call a T-2000. Their T-2000 (or an older version of it) is in fact the same as the SL2000. The motherboard manual had the crucial info for me describing the voltages coming in the power connector (I originally wired it up with just +5V and +12V and it works. The blue wire is meant to be -12V). They also have jumper settings, but they don't really tell you what each jumpers are actually used for. They just say these are the settings for these CPUs.

But you can work out that:

   - J17, J18 and J19 (up the back next to the SDRAM slots) are used for setting
     the FSB Frequency. All of them in the 2-3 position is 66MHz. With J19
     in the 1-2 and J17 amd J18 set to 2-3 you get 60MHz. You can probably
     work out the rest from the CPU chart. 
   - J1, J2 and J3 set the multiplier. You can also probably guess these from 
     the CPU chart. All open is 3.5x. With J1 closed and the others open you 
     should get 3x (thats what the 180MHz winchip was set to).
   - The J22/J23 stuff is obviously for setting whether its a single voltage 
     or dual voltage CPU.
I have now tried a Winchip 233 (which is dual voltage unlike the 180MHz chip) and it seems to work fine.

My primary goal was to get linux running on it, so I hooked up an old 2gb hard drive. If you're like me and you don't have a 44 pin skinny IDE cable, then get one of those adapters so that you can connect a laptop 2.5 inch drive directly onto a 40 pin IDE cable for use in a normal PC. I found I could plug the adapter directly into the motherboard, and then plug a normal IDE cable on top of it (I had to saw off the end of the USB/TV daughterboard).

I went through several different distros before I ended up with Debian Woody (3.0r1). The huge problem with this board is the graphics chip. The performance of this S3 chip is not too bad for its era, but the modern Xfree 4.3.0 (or any 4.x version) won't work with the chip. The notes for Xfree 4.3.0 say it is supported but I just get a black screen. But if you use an old Xfree 3.3.6 it works great. So I had to find a distro I could easily put Xfree 3.3.6 into. Being a slackware nutter, I found that slack 7.1 worked since it uses Xfree 3.3.6, but all the later ones use v4.something. I had a debian disk nearby and I knew you could still get Xfree 3.3.6 debs for it, so in it went. the downside of this approach is that you don't get goodies like xvideo.

Doing a modprobe sb seems to be sufficient to get sound going. I haven't played with the USB yet, nor have I looked at TV output. I thought I read somewhere about someone adapting the linux TV out controller for the savage chipsets to work with some old S3 cards.

Try googling for 'flytech a68'. A68 is the motherboard name and it looks like Flytech may be the original manufacturer of these motherboards.

pablo , 2004-01-29 23:28:36