VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monster

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uridium
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VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monster

Unread postby uridium » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:39 pm

G'day,

Trying to get my 4000-m90 up onto HECnet and wanted to take my existing config which is a BA350 with a couple of shadowed disks for system and user dirs, and an additional disk for some TheoLinux fun.

Okay, this system's run for many years and is stable. I've also used these Stratos Aztec Monster CF (here in referred to as a CF adapter for simplicity) in the Amiga on a GVP Impact Series II controller for a year or so and in a VAX 4000-VLC without too many dramas. So, I thought I'd be able to do a stand-alone backup of a system disk and spray it over to a CF card and go from there. Didn't work. I can actually perform the stand along backup to a tape drive, I can boot off CD-ROM and spray the default hobbyist vms073.b save set to the CF adapter and it thunders along quite nicely. So, it seems to work. TheoLinux can label, newfs and run it quite happily, copy things about etc and the performance seems to feel like a quickish FAST-5 controller. Gets about 700kb/s with a good tail-wind on writes which is great.

When I attempt to boot VMS off a variety of cards (128,512,1gb, 2gb .. I tried a lot wondering if it was some geometry issue VMS has), it will attempt to boot we have..
[..snip!..]
OpenVMS (TM) VAX Version BI-73-7GT Major version id = 1 Minor version id = 0
%WBM-I-WBMINFO Write Bitmap has successfully completed initialization.
%SYSTEM-I-MOUNTVER, DKA100: is offline. Mount verification in progress.

There it hangs with no drive activity LED, and I've left it for >1hr which ought be sufficient for a 128mb CF card and I also attempted same on 2gb.

Given that the 4000-m90 has a NCR53C94 which is capable of 20Mbps "Ultra" SCSI 8bit and large transfer size .. I'm wondering is there a way to slow or retard the on-board SCSI controller? I'd be happy if it was able to get 400-500kb/sec tbh. The CF adapter has only config jumpers for SCSI ID and Termination.

Anyone have any thoughts, rumblings or other?

P.S. The details for the CF card are here: http://www.artmix.com/pdffiles/CF_AZTEC ... N_E_13.pdf .. not that it's terribly much help.

Regards,
Al
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby robespierre » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:09 pm

Have you considered that the fact that it is flash storage may be an issue? If the system is "verifying" the disk by repeatedly overwriting it in small pieces, flash will slow to a Brea tar... and quickly burn up.
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby uridium » Wed Jan 08, 2014 10:27 pm

G'day. Sure, I understand how the write-cycle works for cells on Flash media. In this case it'll have a very low write rate, and for the cost I can substitute many cards. Also I have a few microdrives I've yet to experiment with.

Still.. I wish I could somehow retard the rate.

I've noticed something. If I try to boot off the CF card .. and it crashes as above, if I punch the reset button on the machine to drop me back to sarge prompt, then do a SHOW DEVICE, the CF card is gone until a hard reset/power-cycle.

Interesting.. still experimenting. :)
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby kjaer » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:34 pm

off the top of my head I guess it's not responding as expected to unit attention. less likely a potential problem with target-initiated synchronous negotiation?
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby uridium » Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:57 pm

Could be.. hmm. I contacted the manufacturer at artmix and after a few bungled english emails got a response that was different from the manuals claims and that it will only do 10Mbps. Other than that.. not terribly much else was useful sadly. I think there was quite a language barrier.
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby astouffer » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:51 am

Maybe the CF adapter does not properly implement the SCSI protocol? It sounds like the adapter gets a command that it can't process and crashes. I've heard you can actually have different boxes share the same SCSI bus with a disk however they can't access it at the same time. Now this is all purely speculation but could you use a similar setup and have one box spy on the other like a packet sniffer? Do a comparison between an actual drive and your CF adapter?

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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby smj » Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:13 pm

astouffer wrote:I've heard you can actually have different boxes share the same SCSI bus with a disk however they can't access it at the same time.
This was integral to certain High Availability solutions on Sun, and perhaps other systems, circa 1992-3. Two systems would be physically attached to the same SCSI bus(es), production network(s), and a "heartbeat" connection, but only the active node would be accessing the disks and using the production IP addresses. If the active node became unresponsive, the standby would take over the resources, get services back up, etc.
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby uridium » Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:18 am

Yeah.. never know. It's got me flummoxed. I wish there was a way to retard the 4000-m90's SCSI controller back to Fast-5 and only use simple commands. These cards work like stink on the Amiga and some of my other antiques. Hmm

Thanks guys.
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby uridium » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:56 am

Okay.. so latest steps in the saga. I purchased a ACARD AEC-7720U from fleabay which took a month of Sunday's to arrive from .de. Fed that to the m90 && tested it with a variety of PATA<->CF adapters and cards ranging in size from 128-2048mb.

Annoyingly it didn't get as far as the Aztec Monster. I can't even initialise the cards and get:

Code: Select all

MIRAGE:[SYSMGR.CRUFT]$show dev dka200

Device                  Device           Error    Volume         Free  Trans Mnt
 Name                   Status           Count     Label        Blocks Count Cnt
MIRAGE$DKA200:          Online               0
MIRAGE:[SYSMGR.CRUFT]$initialize dka200: fredderf
%INIT-F-MEDOFL, medium is offline
MIRAGE:[SYSMGR.CRUFT]$show dev dka200

Device                  Device           Error    Volume         Free  Trans Mnt
 Name                   Status           Count     Label        Blocks Count Cnt
MIRAGE$DKA200:          Online               1
MIRAGE:[SYSMGR.CRUFT]$


Annoyingly this ACARD device has an identical ACHIP ARC760-B script chip. Hmph!

Any ideas, constructive abuse, suggestions or ?

Al.
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby mia » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:28 am

Do you have an IDE drive (not bridge) to try this with, to rule out issues with the PATA->CF bridge itself, such as DMA.
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby uridium » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:58 pm

Many. Good point. Shall try it tonight and report back.
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby mia » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:46 pm

Thanks, I used this same adapter on a DS20, in fact I had 5 of them in the DS20 itself; with 5 ide drives (there used to be a time where scsi was really cost prohibitive).
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby uridium » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:50 am

Hi Mia && $REST,

Sadly, the ACARD adapter is not playing well with a variety of IDE drives that I can format on different O/S's either. Same sort of thing. Here's it mis-behaving with a 1.2gb WD Caviar. Did the same with the 520mb also.

Code: Select all

$initialize dka200 mirsys
%INIT-F-MEDOFL, medium is offline
$show dev
Device                  Device           Error    Volume         Free  Trans Mnt
 Name                   Status           Count     Label        Blocks Count Cnt
MIRAGE$DKA100:          Mounted              0  MIRAGE       141613392   219   1
MIRAGE$DKA200:          Online               1
MIRAGE$DKA300:          Mounted              0  USERS          3470364     1   1

Device                  Device           Error    Volume         Free  Trans Mnt
 Name                   Status           Count     Label        Blocks Count Cnt
MIRAGE$MKA700:          Online               0


..etc. Hmm.
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby mia » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:58 am

For the sake of it, could you try to see if netbsd handles it? Otherwise the only viable alternative for diskless would be to mop+SCS from a simh or real vax...
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Re: VAX 4000-m90 SCSI & CF issues with a Stratos Aztec Monst

Unread postby uridium » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:27 pm

@MIA .. I was strongly half tempted to do that actually. Might give it a go tonight and unfortunately I suspect that you're right and as you've been pimping "diskless systems" for a while, I'm gradually coming around to your way of thinking.

Hmm. Will report back. I suspect that NetBSD doesn't care terribly much if it's a removable device or not and doesn't try to lock it, assumes that noone would try something so silly and drives on. I'll report back.
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