Questions tagged [memory]

For questions about computer memory in a retrocomputing context

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5
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2answers
155 views

When was the first 3 state IC produced?

This was prompted by a question on the electronics site (which was asking why only an open collector variant of a particularly old part existed and how it could be part of a data bus). This was a ...
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4answers
1k views

How did DOS know where to load itself in upper memory?

If I remember correctly, you could ask DOS to load in upper memory by writing something like... DOS=UMB ...somewhere in the CONFIG.SYS file. But the question is, how did DOS know what portions of ...
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Were there any games/software that used memory beyond what was advertised available to BASIC on the machine?

Were there any games/software that used memory beyond what was advertised as available to BASIC on the machine ? On home / personal computers any time before 1984 . Without needing to plug in any ...
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1answer
2k views

What is a dropfile?

After reading Charles Duffy's comment on Was there a clearly identifiable "first computer" to use or demonstrate the use of virtual memory?: I had a computer science professor around 1999 ...
12
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1answer
1k views

What manages Upper Memory Blocks (UMBs) in MS-DOS?

I had always assumed that EMM386.EXE was responsible for managing the Upper Memory Blocks - UMBs - the memory space between 640KiB and 1MiB in real mode x86. For example, on MS-DOS 6.22, help emm386....
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1answer
186 views

What's the difference between the DOS HIMEM.SYS and the Windows 3.x version?

An installation of DOS (e.g. MS-DOS 5.0) will typically include a statement in its CONFIG.SYS such as DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS. When installing Windows 3.1, it's setup comments (REMs) that line out, ...
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3answers
790 views

Is there really 1MiB of physical memory in the motherboard of a PC AT/XT?

This is a question that has been puzzling me for a while. What happens with devices like graphic cards that have their own memory chips? Do these cards read/write from their own internal memory to/...
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4answers
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Amiga memory bandwidth

Looking at a timing diagram for the various kinds of memory access occurring on the Amiga http://amigadev.elowar.com/read/ADCD_2.1/Hardware_Manual_guide/node02D4.html it seems to be saying that video ...
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5answers
366 views

Did the PC/AT-bus use its expanded address space?

The system bus of the IBM PC had 8 data lines and 20 address lines, in a logical correspondence to the 8088 CPU. The AT added a second inline edge connector to expand this to 16 data lines and 24 ...
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2answers
289 views

what is DMA and how does it work?

I've heard the term 'DMA' being used a lot in reference to older consoles. My very basic understanding is that it's a way for the console to access memory directly. But directly as apposed to what? ...
5
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1answer
217 views

Why does my Amgia 3000 show no Fast RAM even though the ZIP sockets are populated?

I am trying to get an Amiga 3000T up and running, all seems good but there's no Fast RAM. All Zips ard populated. Is there any (easy) way to test the ZIPs? Also, could something like a bad cap kill ...
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6answers
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Windows 98 with 2GB of RAM

I have assembled a retro-gaming PC out of an old Shuttle SN45G with a Windows 98/Windows XP dual boot. The motherboard can handle 2GB of RAM, but apparently Windows 98 can only handle 1Gb. Windows ...
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3answers
2k views

Speed of early ROM versus RAM chips

In the late seventies, up through around 1981, the maximum access speed of off-the-shelf RAM chips was around 2.6 MHz. Did the same speed limit apply to ROM chips of the same era? If not, what would ...
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2answers
822 views

Is all 100% of a 64k Apple II memory usable?

Are there any areas of the 64k RAM which are permanently unusable by anything, whether by the built-in monitor ROM or user programs? Looking at $C000-C0FF, this is the "softswitch" area, and as far ...
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2answers
930 views

What was the first commercially available computer with ECC memory?

In the early days of computing, memory error detection and correction was either non-existent (Wikipedia tells of Seymour Cray famously saying "parity is for farmers" when asked why he left it out of ...
27
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1answer
3k views

Did DOS zero out the BSS area when it loaded a program?

As an example, say we have a DOS MZ EXE file that's around 20 KiB in size. The EXE header contains the value 0x1400 at offset 0x0A indicating that the program is requesting 5,120 paragraphs (or 80 KiB)...
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3answers
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On a Gameboy, what happens when attempting to read/write external RAM while RAM is disabled?

According to the GBdevwiki: 0000-1FFF - RAM Enable (Write Only) Before external RAM can be read or written, it must be enabled by writing to this address space. It is recommended to disable ...
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3answers
1k views

How did the IBM PC handle multiple physical devices serving memory at the same physical address?

I'm trying to figure out how the IBM 5150 PC handled the case where multiple physical devices (memory chips) were mapped to the same address within the 8088's physical address space. The closest I've ...
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4answers
7k views

When did computers stop checking memory on boot?

I remember my old 8088 used to do this (640K OK) but can't remember seeing anything like this since. Does this still happen and it's just not visible? If not, when did it stop, and why? (Imagining ...
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3answers
3k views

What happened to ZIP RAM?

I have several retro machines and add-on cards for the Amiga that use ZIP RAM. This vertically mounted chip design enjoyed a brief popularity in the early 1990s, in between the original DIP DRAM and ...
12
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1answer
336 views

How did restarts resolve parity errors triggered by broken core-rope wires?

In his account of the history of the Apollo Guidance Computer, Don Eyles describes the role of a parity bit as follows (p. 80): ... if one of those hair thin wires in our woven core-rope memory ...
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6answers
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Can a 16K computer be upgraded to 64K?

A slightly odd question, but is it possible to take an old 16K computer that wasn't designed for memory upgrades, such as a Commodore 16 or PET 4016, and upgrade it to 64K as a hardware hack? I'm not ...
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1answer
147 views

Was there any VIC-20 expansion to bring memory beyond the default maximum of 40 KiB?

The Commodore 64 was very flexible in terms of how RAM could be controlled. ROMs and I/O devices could easily be swapped out by setting bits in the first two addresses of memory. The VIC-20's ROMs and ...
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2answers
2k views

Details of video memory access arbitration in Space Invaders

I am working on an FPGA implementation of the original Space Invaders arcade machine and I'd like to implement access arbitration between the CPU and the video system. I can imagine several ways of ...
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4answers
754 views

Early BASIC memory management

Can anyone verify or correct my memory here? Long ago, I had access to a Commodore PET which I think had 8kB of memory. Also slightly less long ago, I had a Commodore 64 with its "elephatine" 64kB. ...
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3answers
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How does the Gameboy's memory bank switching work?

I'm writing a Game Boy emulator, but I don't completely understand how its memory mapping works. Here is what I (think) I know (and don't know). The CPU can address up to 0x10000 memory locations ...
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1answer
177 views

How does the Gameboy address external hardware?

Where in the memory map ($0000-$ffff) does the Gameboy address the memory of these accessories? (for example, the battery or the Gameboy Printer). Is this something I should implement in an emulator?
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4answers
893 views

How does memory addressing/mapping work in 8-bit systems?

If I attach a 16 KIB EEPROM to a 6502 or similar, and put some kind of operating system on it, it will run fine, but won't have access to any other chips. So, when a Commodore VIC20 had 5k of ram and ...
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2answers
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68000 and memory access speed

On the one hand, I get the impression that memory chips around 1980 could be accessed no faster than 2 MHz. On the other hand, the 68000, introduced in 1979, had a typical clock speed of 8 MHz. How ...
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12answers
5k views

Did early assembly games use hardcoded memory locations?

In the era of C64, Apple][ GS, and SNES, did the games use hardcoded memory locations, or did they let the assembler help them (like modern assemblers)? If yes, how did they manage the memory?
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Largest practical motherboard for early computers

The power of a computer is often effectively determined by the size the RAM can be expanded to. In many cases, this was even more important than CPU speed: Memory-limited workloads In the early days, ...
9
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3answers
930 views

When did CPUs start using page mode DRAM?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_random-access_memory#Page_mode_DRAM Page mode DRAM is a minor modification to the first-generation DRAM IC interface which improved the ...
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1answer
266 views

How much time does a Mac SE/30 with 128 MB of memory take for its power-on memory test?

I've read that it should be possible to push the SE/30 to its maximum RAM capacity with eight pieces of 16 MByte, 30-Pin SIMMs. I've never seen such a machine in the wild. Neither with 64 or 80 MB. ...
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4answers
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Largest memory peripheral for Sinclair ZX81?

Back in the early to mid 1980s, I vaguely recall seeing an advert in a (I think) UK based computer periodical monthly (Your Computer, or Computer and Video Games), for a memory peripheral that offered ...
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2answers
622 views

How do I allocate more memory to an app on Sheepshaver running Mac OS 9?

I'm trying to play Taskmaker on Mac OS 9 in Sheepshaver on OSX. Taskmaker tells me that it doesn't have enough memory to run in color. Within technical support it says that I have 512 megabytes total ...
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2answers
1k views

What was the design of the Macintosh II's MMU replacement?

I am in the process of repairing a Macintosh II and trying to understand the design rationale behind Apple's MMU replacement part installed in this machine. As you can see in the picture, there is a ...
20
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4answers
4k views

What were wait-states, and why was it only an issue for PCs?

PC compatibles in the 1980s were often advertised as having zero, one, two, or sometimes more "wait states". Zero wait states was the best. Basically, the wait-states I am asking about are due to the ...
13
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2answers
466 views

Protected/virtual memory support in classic AmigaOS

It is a well-known fact that AmigaOS is a single address space, totally unprotected memory operating system. The original implementation ran on a Motorola 68000, that did not support virtual memory if ...
9
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1answer
429 views

Amiga 500+ rev8A, 1 MB chip RAM and 0.5 MB slow RAM

I have an 500+ rev8A, I added the missing 0.5 MB RAM and the U32 to the motherboard. I also have 512 KB in the trapdoor. This results in 1.5 MB chip RAM; but I want to have 1 MB chip RAM and 0.5 MB ...
3
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1answer
215 views

How much RAM did the first version of Oregon Trail on the Apple II require?

The later iterations of the series could have hundreds of kilobytes of RAM, but the original Apple II had 4K in the minimum configuration and 48K maximum (the latter using 16kbit chips which were ...
6
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1answer
182 views

Which Amiga systems did access RAM with fast page access?

I'm pretty sure Chip and Fast RAM access on an Amiga 1000 does not support FPM access. Which Amiga system, chipset or motherboard "glue logic" first introduced FPM access to Fast RAM? Which one to ...
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3answers
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Why did the Cray-1 have 8 parity bits per word?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cray-1 The Cray-1 was built as a 64-bit system, a departure from the 7600/6600, which were 60-bit machines (a change was also planned for the 8600). ...
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1answer
271 views

'Swap file' on early time sharing machines

In the Wikipedia article for time sharing, it says The "state" of each user and their programs would have to be kept in the machine, and then switched between quickly. This would take up computer ...
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4answers
698 views

Does fast page mode apply to ROM?

Starting with the 4116, RAM chips from the late seventies supported fast page mode, where if you were reading nearby – particularly, successive – words, you didn't need to supply both row and column ...
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3answers
543 views

Why are RAM chips 1 or 4 bits wide?

I don't know whether it's still the case, but at least in the early days, it was common for RAM chips to be one bit wide, so e.g. an 8-bit computer would install them in groups of eight. I gather at ...
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2answers
2k views

Why does the Galaksija use SRAM instead of DRAM?

From what I understand, SRAM is more expensive than DRAM, but takes less support circuitry. That doesn't matter though, since the Z80 includes everything needed to refresh and support DRAM, doesn't it....
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6answers
2k views

Z80 and video chip contending for random access

Back in the 8-bit days, I used 6502 computers, where the story about memory access was easy to understand. RAM chips of the late seventies and early eighties could do 2 MHz (or a bit more e.g. 2.6 in ...
4
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1answer
214 views

Why does my Epson HX-20 apparently have much less RAM than expected?

When I enter: STAT ALL On my Epson HX-20, I get the following output: P1: 419 Bytes P2: 86 Bytes P3: 0 Bytes P4: 0 Bytes P5: 0 Bytes RAM FILE 256 Bytes MEMSET 2624 105 Bytes Free As I ...
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3answers
810 views

IBM PC expansion card latency

In the IBM PC and early successors and compatibles, it was commonplace for most of the computer's memory to be on cards in general expansion slots. (e.g. the original IBM PC could take 64K on the ...
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5answers
2k views

Core Memory Stability

How reliable was the ferrite ring core memory system? When the power went off, did all the magnetic positions of the iron rings in the program wire grid remain exactly as they were?