Tag Archives: ATI RAGE

WipEout

A futuristic racing game released in 1995 for various platforms.

In Wipeout your mostly battling against the track itself, rather than the rival ships, and at fast speeds the game can become a challenge, requiring quick reflexes. Thankfully it comes with a banging soundtrack, something which is a staple of the Wipeout series of games.

2 Player mode exists for the console versions, but its one of those games that needs a serial cable, two PlayStation or two Saturn’s, TV’s and copies of each game.

PlayStation

Probably the best version, since it has all the graphical effects, and the sound effects when you enter a tunnel. Can also be played on the PlayStation 3 and PSP as part of the PS Classics. Only issue with this port is the low resolution and the pop-in textures on the track, poor draw distance. As a bonus the game supports the use of a NeGcon controller, allowing for an analogue control, useful for turning and for the airbreaks.

On modern emulators you can sort of re-create the PC effects such as higher resolution and texture filtering, but you are still stuck at 30fps. Overclocking the CPU results in the game running too fast.

Duckstation: Enhanced

The game clears up rather well compared to how it originally looked

Sega Saturn

Wipeout was released for the promising Sega Saturn, and serves as an example of the PSY-Q dev kit for the Saturn, which Psygnosis were trying to promote at the time as an alternative to Sega’s devkit (a version of PSY-Q was released for the PlayStation). The soundtrack has been altered with some songs being removed

Screenshots: SSF emulator

Windows

WipEout was ported to the PC a year later than the PlayStation release, and was designed exclusively for ATI video cards and was typically bundled with Windows PC that had those cards. It’s one of the games that supports ATI’s CIF API rather than Direct3D. This limits it to ATI Rage series 3D chipsets, the one in my Dell OptiPlex being one of them, but in order to play CIF games you need to use an older 1999 driver from ATI (The Windows 98 bundled driver has no CIF support), also CIF is only supported under Windows 98, there is no support for Windows NT 4.0. ATI later removed CIF support from its drivers from late 1999 onwards, so you may have to downgrade the driver order to play. A CIF wrapper exists for Windows 7 onwards, although I’ve not tested it.

Screenshots below are captured from a Dell OptiPlex GX1 with an Intel Pentium 2 350mhz and an ATI RAGE 2 with 4Mb of VRAM

The main difference is the ability to play the game in a higher resolution and with the ability to play at a higher framerate, it’s not exactly 60fps on a Rage2 but its a lot more smoother than the PlayStation version. However the sound is not has good as the console versions, with the PC missing the echo sound effects that play when you enter a tunnel. It’s also one of those games that’s stores the music as Redbook CD audio, and the game plays the audio back like a regular CD player would. This gives the option to change the CD (as the game runs from the hard disk) to play your own music.

MS-DOS

Very similar to the accelerated Windows version, but has a lot of enhancements removed, there’s no texture filtering, the framerate is lower and the resolution is reduced, likely because everything is being done on the CPU. You are limited to a low 320 resolution, 16 bit colour.

Personally I would stick with the PlayStation version, or the Saturn if you prefer more detailed textures. The PC versions sacrifice too much for what benefit they give, although you get the opportunity to run in a higher resolution, the missing sound effects are a huge setback and ruin the immersion of the game. besides with modern emulators you can run the game with additional filtering and upscaling, the FPS is still stuck at 30fps.

Hackers

A concept imaging of Wipeout appeared in the movie Hackers, which features slightly different gameplay with obstacles on the track, a crew that speaks to you instead of techno music playing. It was believed to be rendered on a SGI workstation and features perspective correct texture mapping

External Links

WipEout – Archive Website

WipEout – DOS Support

Dell Optiplex GX1 PSU

Dell Optiplex GX1

A SSF (Small Form Factor) desktop class PC powered by the Pentium 2 processor.

Internal view of the GX1 showing the replacement PSU with adaptor

Power Supply replacement

The power supply in this desktop was well over 20 years old, and was in dire need for replacement, since the system had issues remaining stable after adding two PCI cards. Unfortunately with these old Dell Optiplex machines, changing or upgrading the PSU is not an easy task since Dell opted to use a different pinout for their ATX connector, alongside a proprietary connector than provided 3V to the mainboard. Using a regular AT power supply will damage the mainboard since the wiring is completely different, therefore an adaptor is required for a PSU replacement.

6 Pin Dell P10 AUX Connector Adapter (atxpowersupplies.com)

One downside to this adaptor is that it adds additional slack to the ATX main power cable, which was already long to begin with, this means I had to tie up the excess cable and shove it under the CD drive.

There are various other Dell models which use this type of power supply wiring, generally models from the Pentium 2 and 3 era. The website linked has a list of affected models that use this type of power supply.

Seriously! Don’t use a regular ATX power supply without this adaptor!

Operating Systems

The Optiplex GX1 had a range of officially supported operating systems to use;

Windows 98

The go to operating system for PC retro gaming. Whilst its not the most stable operating system in the world, its widespread support and popularity and to an extent charm means it deserves an install. The GX1 has native support for 98, and most likely came preloaded on most shipped systems for this model.

Windows NT 4.0

The GX1 had full driver support for NT4, since it was designed as a business class system to be used in offices, however with limited DirectX support, the games we can run on NT4 is a lot more limited comparted to 98.

IBM OS/2

The GX1 has official drivers for OS/2 Warp 4, I’ve not tried installing on this system, however I am interesting in getting it running on the system since I have only used OS/2 on virtual machines or PCem.

Red Hat 6.2

One of the officially supported GNU/Linux distro, at least going by the Dell driver support page, which offered official downloads for the GX1. I’ve not tried installing Red Hat on this system (yet)

PCI Expansion

This system has 2 PCI slots and 2 ISA slots, a maximum of three cards can be installed because the middle slot is shared between the PCI and ISA

USB 2.0

USB 2.0 4 Port 480Mbps High Speed VIA HUB PCI Controller Card Adapter PCI

A must have upgrade since the USB bus on this system is limited to the 1.1 standard, and maxes out as 12Mbps. VIA still provide Windows 98 drivers for their cards. Plus the 4 extra USB connectors are useful.

Some older motherboards can be picky in regards to the USB chipset used, apparently VIA chipsets are considered more problematic compared to NEC ones, due to the way IRQ’s are handled and reserved with different chipsets.

Which USB 2.0 cards for old motherboards \ VOGONS

Firewire 1394

Firewire 1394a Dual Port – PCI Full Height Card | eBay

Surprisingly Windows 98 supported 1394 Firewire/iLink cards, and drivers for 98 exist for this card. By adding a 1394 card, this become one of the faster interfaces on the PC, the other being the USB 2.0 PCi card. The onboard ethernet maxes out as 100Mbps.

Spare ISA Slot

Not sure what to put here, a modem? Gameport card? (useful since I have a Microsoft Sidewinder that has a Gameport)

Compact Flash Card

Could be used in the slave IDE channel with the correct adaptor, in order to add additional storage, or to install another operating system like one of the many supported OS.

Specifications

OptiPlex GX1 Midsize Managed PC Systems Reference and Installation Guide (dell.com)

Graphics

ATI Rage II – This is the main graphics adaptor built onto the mainboard. Internally it uses the AGP bus and has 4MB of VRAM with the ability to upgrade to 8MB via onboard memory upgrade.

The graphics processor, with the VRAM to the right along with the VRAM expansion slot. The white IDE looking connector to the top right is the ATI video connector and is meant to connect to an ATI MPEG2 decoder.

This graphics card support the ATI CIF 3D API, which was ATI’s graphics library used with some early 3D titles before the widespread adoption of DirectX. Games such as Wipeout, Tomb Raider used this API. This API was only supported on Windows 95 and 98, it had no support for Windows NT, also later ATI drivers versions remove the CIF support.

Chipset

Intel 82440BX

Memory

There are 3 SDRAM slots available, with one slot populated with a 64MB module, and an extra 64MB module was added to the GX1 to bring the memory up to 128MB. According to the Dell documentation, the system can handle a maximum of 768MB of memory.

Desktop

ATi RAGE utility, showing information about the onboard graphics

wipEout

Oh my… lets try a different resolution

Ah that’s better, Wipeout running at 640×480

South Park

South Park had a PC port, in addition to the console PSone and N64 releases, running in a higher resolutions with Anti-Aliasing

Driver

ATI CIF

I plan on looking at further ATI CIF powered games, in addition to Wipeout listed above (Driver/South Park are DirectX games)

A full list of CIF supporting games is available here