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gerrydoire
December 5th, 2008, 03:16 PM
Something I recently acquired...

http://www.barfs.biz/vdisk.jpg


PROMDISK VI is a high-performance, solid-state disk emulator board for ISA compatible computers. The PROMDISK VI board emulates a fixed disk drive with capacities ranging in size from 4MB to 128MB using on-board non-volatile NAND Flash Memory. It can be configured as a bootable fixed disk drive for true DISKLESS operation. PROMDISK VI includes an on-board BIOS extension ROM that contains the Datalight FlashFx integrated Flash file system and boot utilities. It is fully DOS and Windows compatible, allowing the user to copy and erase files using standard DOS commands.

PROMDISK VI can replace mechanical disk drives in systems designed to operate in harsh environments, or where weight and size are at a premium. The use of PROMDISK VI in embedded or dedicated applications offers substantial benefits in overall system cost, performance, and reliability. PROMDISK VI contains no moving parts, and incorporates low power CMOS technology to provide the highest reliability with the use of commercial grade components.

Features

* Emulates fixed disk up to 128M-bytes
* On-board BIOS ROM with Datalight FlashFx Flash File System
* SMT NAND Flash Memory for High Reliability
* Boots as drive C
* Includes ROM-DOS version 6.22
* Occupies only 16K of memory address space
* Half-size ISA type board
* QNX Version 4.23 Drivers Available
* Y2K Compliant

Ec1564
December 5th, 2008, 04:42 PM
A CF card to IDE adaptor does the same as that card. I got one and use it in my Tandy 1000TL/2. Works really good too.

Terry Yager
December 5th, 2008, 05:10 PM
No, but I'll take that one off your hands if it's for sale.

--T

gerrydoire
December 5th, 2008, 05:17 PM
No, but I'll take that one off your hands if it's for sale.

--T

You can get one for $50 from a company on Ebay. 24k Version.

Terry Yager
December 5th, 2008, 06:33 PM
You can get one for $50 from a company on Ebay. 24k Version.

D'ya know the seller's handle, by any chance?

--T

gerrydoire
December 5th, 2008, 07:25 PM
D'ya know the seller's handle, by any chance?

--T

http://recycledgoods.com/search.aspx?search=promdisk

They have the board on ebay, offer them $50 for it, they have a few left. :-D

Chuck(G)
December 5th, 2008, 08:43 PM
Not to put a wet blanket on things, but the "refurb" tag on anything with flash, particularly something this old makes me a bit gun-shy. If no sort of write-leveling is present in the driver for this thing, how many writes are left (if any) on the directory/FAT blocks?

Does "refurb" mean that they replaced all of the flash?

Yeah :( I know I'm a spoilsport.

gerrydoire
December 6th, 2008, 08:41 AM
Not to put a wet blanket on things, but the "refurb" tag on anything with flash, particularly something this old makes me a bit gun-shy. If no sort of write-leveling is present in the driver for this thing, how many writes are left (if any) on the directory/FAT blocks?

Does "refurb" mean that they replaced all of the flash?

Yeah :( I know I'm a spoilsport.

They probably replaced nothing, they just get used computer stuff and re-sell it. Anything used comes comes with a risk of how much use did it have.

I bought two MFM hard drives on Ebay, one looked new the other looked old, both died a few months after I bought them.

gerrydoire
December 16th, 2008, 03:33 PM
http://www.barfs.biz/vdisk.jpg


Well I finally received the card, unfortunetly it won't work in an
IBM PC or IBM PC XT, even though the manual sais it does.

The card works in a Pentium computer that has an isa slot.

Manual:

The PROMDISK Disk Emulator is a unique memory board designed to emulate DOS compatible disk
drives for use in IBM PC/XT/AT compatible computers as a replacement for a hard disk drive. It
occupies only 32K bytes of address space within the ROM Adapter address space, and is selectable
from address segment C800H through E800H on 800H boundaries. PROMDISK V supports up to
32M-bytes of Intel Flash memory and includes an on-board BIOS extension ROM containing the
Datalight CardTrick® FTL integrated Flash File System and boot utilities.


If anyone has any ideas why, speak now or forever hold your isolinear chips...

:confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused:

Chuck(G)
December 16th, 2008, 04:29 PM
Any chance you could drop a NEC V20 in your CPU socket and try again?

gerrydoire
December 16th, 2008, 06:54 PM
Any chance you could drop a NEC V20 in your CPU socket and try again?

Don't have a NEC V20, but I guess I could get one and try it out..

Chuck(G)
December 16th, 2008, 07:44 PM
Don't have a NEC V20, but I guess I could get one and try it out..

Completely aside from the 8080 emulation mode, the V20 supports most of the 80186/8026 non-protected-mode instruction set additions.

One of the most common 8088/80286 traps wasn't the string I/O instructions but something more mundane--the shift and rotate instructions. For example, to shift AX left 4 bits on the 8088 you would to write the following



shl ax,1
shl ax,1
shl ax,1
shl ax,1

or:

mov cl,4
shl ax,cl


Whereas, on the 80186/286/V20 you can code:



shl ax,4


It's such a simple thing that many programmers don't even give it a thought when coding, particularly if they've never had to code for an 8088.

A nice side benefit of a V20 is that it'll make your code run a bit faster (about 20% on the average).

Another bugaboo was use of the PUSHA/POPA, ENTER/LEAVE instructions on the 286 that aren't present on the 8088.

If you'd like, you can take a snapshot of the option ROM to this thing and post it here and I (and probably others) would be happy to poke at it with a disassembler.

gerrydoire
December 16th, 2008, 07:50 PM
How much of a speed increase would you see in a 4.77mhz vintage pc or xt with this nec chip?

Kaypro
December 16th, 2008, 07:52 PM
You'd see about a 20-50% improvement, roughly.

gerrydoire
December 16th, 2008, 07:53 PM
You'd see about a 20-50% improvement, roughly.

Anyone have a NEC V20 for a Vintage Computer Collector down on his luck?

JohnElliott
December 17th, 2008, 12:27 AM
If anyone has any ideas why, speak now or forever hold your isolinear chips...

:confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused:

If you boot from a floppy, can you see the PROM drive? The one I tried (in a Compaq portable) wouldn't boot, but did show up when the system was booted from a floppy. In the end I patched the Compaq's BIOS ROM (http://www.seasip.info/VintagePC/Software/cpqpatch.zip) to sort this out.

mbbrutman
December 17th, 2008, 03:48 AM
You'd see about a 20-50% improvement, roughly.

20 to 50% is wildly optimistic. Not even NEC claimed anything in that range.

It depends on the instruction mix and what you are doing. For real life work measured with a stop watch, 5 to 15% was the norm.



Mike

gerrydoire
December 17th, 2008, 04:41 AM
If you boot from a floppy, can you see the PROM drive? The one I tried (in a Compaq portable) wouldn't boot, but did show up when the system was booted from a floppy. In the end I patched the Compaq's BIOS ROM (http://www.seasip.info/VintagePC/Software/cpqpatch.zip) to sort this out.


The cards works perfectly booting from a Pentium 233mhz computer I have that has a ISA slot.

What gets me, the company specifically states this card will run on an IBM PC/XT/AT, perhaps they left some fine print out when it comes to the PC/XT end of the rainbow?

Since the card runs perfectly on the 233, I can scan the prom to see why it isnt PC/XT friendly?

mbbrutman
December 17th, 2008, 05:41 AM
Like Chuck said, dump the ROM and send him/us a the dump. We can disassemble it to see what bad instructions it is using that the 8088 in your XT doesn't like.

If you need instructions on how to dump a ROM, search back in the forum for 'ROM' and 'dump' and you should find what you need.

Chuck(G)
December 17th, 2008, 02:39 PM
The NEC V20 is also known as the uPD70108. The last time I looked, Jameco still had them for about $10 each. The 8086 replacement is the uPD70116.

gerrydoire
December 17th, 2008, 02:41 PM
Like Chuck said, dump the ROM and send him/us a the dump. We can disassemble it to see what bad instructions it is using that the 8088 in your XT doesn't like.

If you need instructions on how to dump a ROM, search back in the forum for 'ROM' and 'dump' and you should find what you need.

I called the company who sells the card, they said the card was altered by a company that bought it, I assume the firmware was altered in some way, #$%@/$#^%2-*

Chuck(G)
December 17th, 2008, 03:03 PM
All is not lost, I hope. The manufacturer is still in business and your card has a flash BIOS. Why not drop a line to the good folks at MCSI and see if they can offer you a firmware update:

MCSI Embedded Systems Division
ICP America, Inc.
1070 Joshua Way, Vista, California 92081
TEL : 800-347-6274 FAX : 877-296-2500

From Outside North America:
TEL : 760-598-2177 FAX : 760-598-2450

Sales: mcsi@icpamerica.com
Technical support: support@icpamerica.com

gerrydoire
December 17th, 2008, 05:38 PM
All is not lost, I hope. The manufacturer is still in business and your card has a flash BIOS. Why not drop a line to the good folks at MCSI and see if they can offer you a firmware update:

MCSI Embedded Systems Division
ICP America, Inc.
1070 Joshua Way, Vista, California 92081
TEL : 800-347-6274 FAX : 877-296-2500

From Outside North America:
TEL : 760-598-2177 FAX : 760-598-2450

Sales: mcsi@icpamerica.com
Technical support: support@icpamerica.com


They said no support, then said would you like to buy a new one.

Chuck(G)
December 17th, 2008, 07:17 PM
Nice people.:sarcasm:

Hopefully, this will let others who may make buying decisions for such stuff in their day jobs know how this company operates.

Why not dump the ROM and let us take a peek at it? Maybe we can salvage your $50 yet.

gerrydoire
December 17th, 2008, 07:54 PM
Nice people.:sarcasm:

Hopefully, this will let others who may make buying decisions for such stuff in their day jobs know how this company operates.

Why not dump the ROM and let us take a peek at it? Maybe we can salvage your $50 yet.

I shall do that!!

gerrydoire
December 20th, 2008, 06:44 PM
Well I tried the card in a 286 motherboard, a clone motherboard 286 12mhz.

The card booted ok..

Ok all you smart people, tell me what to do next, dump the what, how etc. etc...

channelmaniac
December 20th, 2008, 07:38 PM
I might still have an old V20 chip on some anti-static foam in the shop. It's untested, but free.

I'll go look to see if it's still there.

RJ

gerrydoire
December 20th, 2008, 08:40 PM
I might still have an old V20 chip on some anti-static foam in the shop. It's untested, but free.

I'll go look to see if it's still there.

RJ

FREE is my favorite word

channelmaniac
December 26th, 2008, 03:30 PM
It's ceramic, it's ugly, and it has been desoldered - but not by me. A friend from Canadastan sent it down to me with a bunch of other chips and I haven't got a testbed to check it out in.

PM me your address and I'll drop it in the mail to you.

RJ

gerrydoire
January 31st, 2009, 02:59 PM
Something for thought:

Even though I bought the Promdisk and it was "suppose" to work in a PC and XT and it did not, It did however work in a 286 computer, I put the card into storage.

Recently I bought a Orchid 286 card for the same computer, the XT.

Sitting there staring at the XT with this 286 card inside, I wondered,
will that Promdisk work in this computer now?

The answer:



















YES virginia there is a Santa Claus! :mrgreen:


It loads up quick with the 286 on and the dos coming str8 from a flash memory card "Promdisk"

Chuck(G)
January 31st, 2009, 03:24 PM
Did you ever get the chance to try the V20?

Shadow Lord
November 23rd, 2010, 05:36 PM
Sorry to resurrect this old thread. But I was always very interested in the whole concept of the ROM based DOS. Back in the day the (uneducated non-technical) rumor was that DOS on ROM was super fast w/ instant boot times. Also, they were suppose to make your DOS memory foot print in the 640KB space non-existent. Is this even remotely close to true? I know that now a days the same thing can easily be achieved w/ IDE controller and a CF card w/ an IDE adapter. However, after finding this thread I was curious as to if anyone still uses these form before and if they did really make "instant on", or as close to it, a possibility?

MCSI is still in business and sells 128MB version of the card now. More than enough for DOS, and all the drivers you would ever load. $50 seems like a relatively cheap price and on par w/ buying an IDE controller, CF card, and an adapter.... Thanks!

gerrydoire
November 23rd, 2010, 08:29 PM
I never tried a V20 with this card, but it worked on a 286 Motherboard.

gerrydoire
November 23rd, 2010, 08:34 PM
Sorry to resurrect this old thread. But I was always very interested in the whole concept of the ROM based DOS. Back in the day the (uneducated non-technical) rumor was that DOS on ROM was super fast w/ instant boot times. Also, they were suppose to make your DOS memory foot print in the 640KB space non-existent. Is this even remotely close to true? I know that now a days the same thing can easily be achieved w/ IDE controller and a CF card w/ an IDE adapter. However, after finding this thread I was curious as to if anyone still uses these form before and if they did really make "instant on", or as close to it, a possibility?

MCSI is still in business and sells 128MB version of the card now. More than enough for DOS, and all the drivers you would ever load. $50 seems like a relatively cheap price and on par w/ buying an IDE controller, CF card, and an adapter.... Thanks!

It comes on pretty quick!

When this card was made, flash memory was mega expensive so it had very little space.

Buy an 8 Bit IDE Card, attached a CF Card and you're smokin!!

My IBM Luggable "XT" has a Acculogic 8 bit IDE Card with a 128meg Kodak CF Card, works like a charm. I tried many cards on the Acculogic and only a 128 Meg Card from Kodak would boot, other cards would not, even smaller memory or larger, no boot.
The second hard drive connector of the IDE card has a 512 Meg CF Card, all of this is far more than any XT Computer could ever need.

:D

Shadow Lord
November 23rd, 2010, 09:15 PM
Well, its just like the PCI-E Flash Drives of today... Just a whole lot slower! :D


How about the whole RAM thing? Do you save on conventional memory because DOS is in ROM or does it simply act like a flash drive and memory consumption is unchanged? Thanks!

Shadow Lord
November 29th, 2010, 02:26 PM
O.k. I checked into this a bit further and got some prices. Boy are they ugly:

PROMDISK IV (4MB max, can support EPROM, SRAM w/ battery backup):
Boards @ $100.00 each
SRAM, 512Kx8, BSI, ROHS @ $20.00 each Or
FLASH EPROM 512Kx8 @ $20.00 each

The PROMDISK VI w/ a max of 128MB FLASH is as follows:

128MB: $600
64MB: $300
32MB: $200


As a comparison a PCIe 128GB SSD drive sells for ~$280 at Newegg.

So does anyone know of an EISA bus mastering IDE controller? :D

hargle
November 30th, 2010, 02:14 PM
I'd think virtually any Promise brand ISA 16 bit IDE controllers will do the trick for you. Since you want EISA, you've at least got a full 16 bit bus, so I assume you're not targeting an 8088 type machine. (ie, no need for an 8 bit XTIDE controller card) and that makes your options very open.

You should be able to find something for a couple bucks on ebay.
Attach an IDE->CF adapter and you'd have a swappable media version of this card. There are even IDE->CF adapters that don't need IDE cables and attach directly to the card.

You will find no difference in free memory booting into DOS this way. DOS in ROM is a whole different beast.

Shadow Lord
December 1st, 2010, 08:31 PM
hargle,

Thank for the info. I was hoping there would be BM EISA controller but guess not. I may go down the ISA route although to be honest I've built the Megacube to be a SCSI only machine and the PROMDISK was more of a novelty then an actual need. I may just keep an eye out on the used market and see what pops up.