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Success in SCSI-IDE-CF Disk Setup

 
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pitz



Joined: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 122
Location: Oregon, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:31 am    Post subject: Success in SCSI-IDE-CF Disk Setup Reply with quote

One of the things in my long list of work items is to try using a CompactFlash memory card as a primary disk for my slab. I've had all the necessary parts for a while, and decided to spend a few hours this morning to set it up. I was planning to test it with a bare-bones slab I recently bought from another forum member, but turned out I didn't have the right memory SIMMs for that slab, so I had to use my existing Turbo Color slab.

I used an ACARD 7720U SCSI-to-IDE bridge adapter (about $35+ on the secondhand market), a cheap IDE-CF adapter I bought from eBay, and some wires from RadioShack for the power connections.

I initially had an empty SanDisk 1GB Ultra to use, but try as I did, I couldn't get it to work. Windowz would recognize the CF disk if I plug in the IDE-CF adapter directly on an IDE cable, and it would recognize IDE devices (i.e., IDE CD-ROM) that I attach to the SCSI-IDE adapter attached to an Adaptec SCSI PCI card, but the combination with the Ultra just wouldn't work. The slab would recognize a disk label, but it would choke as soon as it tries to read from or write to the disk.

Actually spent a couple of hours trying to figure this out. In the end, I gave up and scrounged around for a different CF disk in the house. I found a 256MB SanDisk card in the wife's digital SLR and used it with my setup. Lo and behold, OPENSTEP installs on the disk! And after the installation, the slab successfully boots from the CF disk. The most basic install of OPENSTEP 4.2 takes up about 100MB, so there's some room to spare.

Wife is happy with the trade. Faster and larger 1GB digital film for her, and I'm happy with a working 256MB disk Very Happy Might have to do with some non-standard faster interface that the Ultra provides.

I understand that, in general, the MTBF rating for most CF is lower than hard disks. However, it has the advantage of distributing the writes across the whole card, and it also has some mapping mechanisms for "sectors" gone bad. Besides, no moving parts is always a plus. Less heat inside the case as well, and a little less noise (the internal fan is still loud).

Links for the pictures of the equipment used, and the boot-up screen where the CF card is recognized:
http://picasaweb.google.com/simplepractices/Posts/photo#5229593535780726082
http://picasaweb.google.com/simplepractices/Posts/photo#5229593531929294098
http://picasaweb.google.com/simplepractices/Posts/photo#5229593533537356482
http://picasaweb.google.com/simplepractices/Posts/photo#5229593532975791586

Enjoy!

/pitz
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kb7sqi



Joined: 24 Sep 2007
Posts: 488
Location: Winston Salem, NC

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know that is sweet! I've been thinking about doing something similar w/ my older boxes because I run so many. A 2-4 gig CF would be perfect for the core install on most machines & then for all my compiling, I would just use NFS. Thanks for the pics. I'm guess it's time to start hunting down some spare parts.
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helf



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 1097
Location: Alabama, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dude! I've been wanting to do this for awhile! Very Happy I'm glad it works. Ran any benchmarks yet?
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helf



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
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Location: Alabama, USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey, pitz, where did you get that molex splitter cable?
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pitz



Joined: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 122
Location: Oregon, USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

helf wrote:
hey, pitz, where did you get that molex splitter cable?


RadioShack (or even Fry's). Look for the splitter used to split a standard 4-pin molex to the smaller one used for internal floppy drives. The connectors on both the IDE-CF adapter and the SCSI-IDE adapter are similar to those of these floppy drives.
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helf



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 1097
Location: Alabama, USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oh ok. I'll take a look. The splitters I generally see just have one molex splitting off into two other molex connectors... Smile I can't wait to get my NeXT running with my 2GB CF card (*crosses fingers*). Have you run any benchmarks yet? I'm really curious to see what the speeds are like. My current drive rating using that old hdd tester is like 2.5 which is a really high rating according to that program... Hopefully the CF will be a lot higher Razz
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idylukewild



Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 121
Location: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great job!
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pitz



Joined: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 122
Location: Oregon, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2008 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

helf wrote:
dude! I've been wanting to do this for awhile! Very Happy I'm glad it works. Ran any benchmarks yet?


I ran DrivePerformance 1.1 on both a SCSI hard disk and an IDE-CF setup. DrivePerformance reports an index and a read/write rate.

For the SCSI disk (Seagate Barracuda ST32550N):
Write - 1.0 - 756 kb/sec
Read - 2.6 - 2501 kb/sec

For the IDE-CF setup:
Write - 1.5 - 1204 kb/sec
Read - 2.7 - 2631 kb/sec

This IDE-CF setup used a regular SanDisk CF card. I couldn't get the SanDisk Ultra II card (which should theoretically have better performance) working with my setup.

Also, I received the following Molex splitter cable from one of my recent secondhand purchases. It splits off into two floppy-drive type connectors. Dunno what retail store it originally came from though.

http://picasaweb.google.com/simplepractices/Posts/photo#5236481464408025442
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Nitro
Site Admin


Joined: 22 Oct 2005
Posts: 422
Location: Littleton, Colorado USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice! It looks like a cost effective and quiet solution. Itís getting difficult to find a quiet SCSI hard drive at a reasonable price, so this is a great alternative. Thanks for trying that out.
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helf



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 1097
Location: Alabama, USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

huh, that is one slow CF card Razz My current SCSI drive in my NeXT matches that speed. I guess access times are a heck of a lot better, though Smile
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helf



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
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Location: Alabama, USA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pitz, I'll be testing out doing the install on some highgrade 2-4gb CF cards soon with an addonics SCSI adapter (awesome brand). I'll post benchmarks when I get it going. Hopefully they will be a bit faster than your card.
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pitz



Joined: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 122
Location: Oregon, USA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

helf wrote:
pitz, I'll be testing out doing the install on some highgrade 2-4gb CF cards soon with an addonics SCSI adapter (awesome brand). I'll post benchmarks when I get it going. Hopefully they will be a bit faster than your card.


Cool. It seems that the bottleneck is really the CF card, since both adapters that I used have a much higher transfer rate than what DrivePerformance reported.

WRITE SPEED FOR SANDISK COMPACTFLASH CARDS:
1) Standard CF = 1.1Mb/sec (6.6X)
2) Ultra CF = 2.9Mb/sec (20X)
3) Ultra II or Extreme = 9.0Mb/sec (60X), 10MB/sec READ
4) Extreme III CF = 18Mb/sec (120X), 20MB/sec READ

My 256MB card is a standard card and explains the slow rate reported by DrivePerformance. I was not able to make the Ultra II work with my ACARD SCSI adapter, but would be awesome if it could work with the Addonics adapter. Also, the SanDisk standard CF cards are getting harder to find in retail stores nowadays (I think SanDisk has even priced them more expensive than the Ultras on their web store).


Last edited by pitz on Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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helf



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 1097
Location: Alabama, USA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to go with a different company. Sandisk doesn't have the best quality parts Razz I'll let everyone know if it works.

*crosses fingers*
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