[vcf-midatlantic] So, we're going to need an office computer.
fraveydank at gmail.com
Fri Feb 5 16:57:51 EST 2016
On Feb 5, 2016, at 4:37 PM, Systems Glitch via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:
>> Even with a new machine there is usually a serial port on the motherboard,
>> just connect an internal serial port cable to the motherboard and pull it
>> from the motherboard to an external slot so you can get to it.
> Yep, even my quad-core AMD A10 motherboard has a COM header. Almost every industrial Mini-ITX motherboard I've bought has *at least* one, often two, up to four.
For non-industrial machines, this is increasingly less common. The main reason it's usually there is to facilitate low-level debugging; it's way easier to get simple comms over a serial port than over Ethernet, so Windows (and other OSes, but Windows is what motherboard manufacturers care about) has used serial for its low-level debug medium even in the modern day. IEEE 1394 (FireWire) is also common, because you can easily set up the most common FireWire chipset to DMA directly into and out of memory, which makes it an even better choice in some respects. I think that's probably why you see FireWire ports on a lot of motherboards, not because everyone is suddenly using it.
In any case, if you don't have a good reason to have a serial port at 0x3F8 (and few do, anymore), you're probably better off going with a well-reviewed PCIe serial/parallel card. For older drivers and software that require hardware at the "vintage" addresses (like my parallel ROM burner), I've found that the PCIe devices work perfectly with a VM, where you can specify their virtual address; I run my ROM burner through VMWare and it works like a charm. The same will likely be true for USB serial devices, though USB parallel adaptors are generally pretty specific to printers and often don't actually emulate the entire parallel port.
Maybe I'm assuming too much about why the desk machine needs a real serial port, though.
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