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View Full Version : Unknown DEC motherboard + CPU. Anyone have any info about it?



Tetrium
April 19th, 2010, 03:17 AM
I found this unknown motherboard, forgot that I had it.

I tried finding information on the net but it's realy hard to find any info on it, let alone a manual.
I do know it's probably made somewhere in 1994 and that the CPU is a 21066. Other then that , I don't know what speed the processor is.
It's missing it's cache chips and I don't have any special cabling. Duno if that's required. It has 2 seperate powersupply connectors, one of them has 3.3V or something similar printed next to it.

As I can't test it, I have no idea if it's in working condition but the hardware doesn't seem to have any obvious defects, no scratches, burn marks or so.


I wrote down everything printed on the PCB that seemed it might help in itentifying the motherboard:

On the side it sais "54-23310-04", "AY43817881 C02"
On one of the PCI slots "EH06001-P-W"
On the chipset is the following:
S82378ZB
16T6F1003
JAPAN9420EAI
'92


I removed the heatsink from the CPU (a small feat in itself considering the way it is mounted!) and has the following markings:

DEC 263C H 9431
S11486-47
(c)(m) DEC 1993

DEC 21066-AA
21-37430-01

I took a couple pics though my camera doesn't take the sharpest pics in the world

The board:
http://i941.photobucket.com/albums/ad254/inteltetrium/DSC00256.jpg

and the CPU:
http://i941.photobucket.com/albums/ad254/inteltetrium/DSC00259.jpg

If I could get this to work, perhaps I could put NT4 on it or so. Won't be an easy project though. Still I think it would be a shame to throw it in the bin, the CPU alone looks quite intimidating even compared to a contemporary Pentium-66!

I'm kinda hoping theres some DEC Alpha guru that can tell me more about this strange 2 pieces of hardware, any of your thoughts would be most welcome!

cosam
April 19th, 2010, 03:33 AM
I reckon it's from an AXP 150 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DECpc_AXP_150).

Tetrium
April 19th, 2010, 03:47 AM
Wow that was fast! Do you have any idea what speed the CPU is? And are there any manuals for it? Particularly about what power supply it uses. Does it need 2 power supplies or 1 power supply with 2 sets of AT powersupply conectors?

cosam
April 19th, 2010, 04:39 AM
Wow that was fast! Do you have any idea what speed the CPU is?
Somewhere around the 100-200 MHz mark - the part number(s) might get you closer to the actual value. Funny that this board has a 21066A as they supposedly shipped with 21064As which have on-board cache.


And are there any manuals for it? Particularly about what power supply it uses. Does it need 2 power supplies or 1 power supply with 2 sets of AT powersupply conectors?
I should think there's something out there manual-wise. This thing isn't incredibly old, so there may even be some info on HP's site. Have a look how those power connectors are wired up. I think you can run it off a single AT PSU and that the second connector is for some kind of redundant PSU/UPS set-up.

Tetrium
April 19th, 2010, 06:18 AM
The HP site it is then! I'll have a look over there and see what I can find out

NeXT
April 19th, 2010, 06:52 AM
It's indeed an ALPHA processor. I dare you to try NT 4.0 for ALPHA. I dare ya! ;)
Also, that's the first time I gave ever seen TWO dallas chips on a single motherboard.

Tetrium
April 19th, 2010, 10:09 AM
Well, I know very little about the Alpha architechture. I do happen to have a CDROM of NT 3.51 which has printed on the media it supports RISC processors or something along those lines. But I don't know yet what I'm going to use it for, I'm not even sure if this mobo works or not and the L2 cache is even missing.

Lou - N2MIY
April 19th, 2010, 04:50 PM
You have a dec AXPpci33 motherboard. The 21066A processor is 233 MHz. I have the OEM design guide for this motherboard open in front of me. It has dec order number EK-AXPCI-DG.

I have a dec Alpha Multia and run NT4.0 server on it. Kind of a waste though, because NT4.0 is a 32 bit app while the Alpha is a 64 bit processor. Of couse it will also run NetBSD. With this motherboard you can also run Digial UNIX (aka Ultrix).

This is a nice little motherboard, but you will need 36 bit (parity) memory, cache, and be aware that Alpha motherboards power connections are sometimes different than for a PC.

Lou

Tetrium
April 20th, 2010, 01:52 AM
Thanks for reply!

So it will need cache in order to run? Because it won't be easy to get 17 cache chips for it. I have a number of cache chips laying around but most are the 20ns variety. 233Mhz is realy impressive for 1994!
Also I thought it might have a propriety power conector, thats why I've never tried to boot it before. Rather have a unused motherboard laying around then a burned-out motherboard
The memory won't be much of a problem, I'm sure I have parity FPM memory in my stash somewhere.
Does this board support stacked SIMM modules? If so, then I would be set!

Heres a pic of the stacked memory, they are 64MB, parity and are very incompatible to any other boards I have laying around:

http://i941.photobucket.com/albums/ad254/inteltetrium/DSC00197.jpg

Edit:Could you please explain how to decipher the codes on the CPU? I've had no luck finding anything on the net about that. It doesn't mention it's 233Mhz anywhere on the CPU that I can see

Edit2: I found the manual for this board here! http://www.alphalinux.org/docs/pci33dg.pdf
dec AXPpci33 was indeed the magic word :)

cosam
April 20th, 2010, 02:34 AM
You have a dec AXPpci33 motherboard.
Now, that would make much more sense! No wonder my theory didn't add up.

The design guide is online (http://www.alphalinux.org/docs/pci33dg.pdf) too. Lots of info in there, including the power pinouts.

This would indeed make a nice little Unix box...

Tetrium
April 20th, 2010, 03:13 AM
Yep, it has a lot of the information I was looking for. It will run without any of the cache chips and it will support 20ns cache chips. I'm still trying to find out wether it will run with just a standard AT PSU or not but atleast now I have the pinouts. It won't work with fake parity but doesn't make any mention that it won't work with stacked (or composite) SIMM modules so I'm still hopefull there.
Finding a fitting case might be a slight problem, I might have 1 or 2 AT cases with 2 openings instead of just 1 (for the AT keyboard) and if all else fails I can always put it in an ATX case with use of some adapters.
Still hoping to cram NT 4.0 on it though :D
Not sure if it needs some special version of NT 4.0, I'd have to check my collection of windows CD's...

Lou - N2MIY
April 20th, 2010, 04:25 PM
I think any NT4.0 install CD you find will find will have the Alpha version on there. I bought mine off ebay for something like $10USD. The original box, license and all.

The whole Alpha archecticture was quite impressive for its time. You can read about the various conspiracy theories regarding the lack of continued Alpha development after dec was bought by Compaq.

If dec had suceeded with the pro350 in the 80s, we might all be using something like microvax (pdp-11 lineage) based machines today. If they had suceeded with the Alpha in the 90s, we'd all have 64 bit risc machines on our desks today.

You might have to trade in that Tetrium logo for an Alpha Generation logo.

Lou

Tetrium
April 22nd, 2010, 12:51 PM
I did my reading and it appears it will work without the 3.3V connector, it's supposedly only used for the PCI slots. This means that ISA cards should work

The good news is, I checked my NT 4.0 cd's and they both indeed support Alpha computers. The bad news is that I wasn't able to get the board to post!
I didn't test all that vigorously though. I heard no beeps, the keyboard did light up briefly and the voltage regulator heatsink became quite warm to the touch even though I'd put a 7cm CPU fan on the heatsink.

Even though it ended with an anticlimax, I have TONS of other projects to finish, tons of other interesting hardware to try.

Thanks for helping me out, I did learn a couple things :)

Neon_WA
April 25th, 2010, 05:28 AM
You have a dec AXPpci33 motherboard. The 21066A processor is 233 MHz. I have the OEM design guide for this motherboard open in front of me. It has dec order number EK-AXPCI-DG.

From my sources 21-37430-01 is a 166MHz processor
http://www.cpu-world.com/info/DEC-parts.html
http://gecko54000.free.fr/?documentations=IDENTIFICATION_DEC

Lou - N2MIY
April 25th, 2010, 06:44 AM
You are correct. I looked closer at my manual for the motherboard. The 233 Mhz chip is a 21066-CB. The one in the photo is 21066-AA. I assumed (incorrectly) that a 21066-AA was a 21066A. In reality, 21066-AA is a plain 21066.

Sadly this is a moot point because the OP's motherboard is broken

Lou

Tetrium
April 25th, 2010, 07:05 AM
From my sources 21-37430-01 is a 166MHz processor
http://www.cpu-world.com/info/DEC-parts.html
http://gecko54000.free.fr/?documentations=IDENTIFICATION_DEC
Thanks for the links, I was looking for a list of DEC Alpha parts ID numbers!

I know chances are the board is indeed broken but I'm gona store it for now. It wouldn't be the first time a seemingly broken board isn't broken afterall

ajcc
May 4th, 2010, 02:35 AM
I did my reading and it appears it will work without the 3.3V connector, it's supposedly only used for the PCI slots. This means that ISA cards should work

The good news is, I checked my NT 4.0 cd's and they both indeed support Alpha computers. The bad news is that I wasn't able to get the board to post!
I didn't test all that vigorously though. I heard no beeps, the keyboard did light up briefly and the voltage regulator heatsink became quite warm to the touch even though I'd put a 7cm CPU fan on the heatsink.

Even though it ended with an anticlimax, I have TONS of other projects to finish, tons of other interesting hardware to try.

Thanks for helping me out, I did learn a couple things :)

I guess debugging a non starting system is the same, but I found a nice debugging feature:
If you look at page 29 in the manual (http://www.alphalinux.org/docs/pci33dg.pdf), you'll see a diagram of a POST status LED-thinngy. If you are able to construct it, you can see why your system isn't starting up. If it's the BIOS getting stuck in a loop when there's no 3.3V+ to PCI or something else.

And just because I always ask it: Did you connect a speaker to the board? (see page 36 for connecting a speaker)

Are Alpha systems still being sought after today? I remember looking for an Alpha some 5-years ago and people asked for insane amounts! Thumbs up for NetBSD, my only operative system from 2003 to 2007 :) (today it's Debian, I'm sadly lazy without the drive of a young computer programmer).

Edit: I found this in the manual: Power sequencing of +3.3 V for the Alpha processor by the power supply is not required. The +3.3 V supply is derived from +5 V and sequenced by an onboard circuit. The +3.3 V power connector provides power only to the PCI slots.

Tetrium2
June 22nd, 2011, 02:38 PM
I know I haven't posted in this thread in quite a while, but by chance I found myself re-reading it and now I see that I tried to boot the system without populating the 11 cache sockets! -_-
Would the 11 cache chips be required for the system to boot?

I can't remember if I used a speaker or not btw

leaknoil
June 22nd, 2011, 05:45 PM
I had one of those. It doesn't need cache to run. It will run much faster with cache although it is pretty hard to find. It uses a standard AT power supply and will run OpenVMS along with all the rest of the previously mentioned. I had 8.3 on mine. It will also run Tru-64. In fact, it basically runs anything for Alpha which made them sort of cool.

They were sold as OEM boards for 3rd party designs. I don't think they were ever used in a DEC product but, who knows.

1ajs
June 25th, 2011, 10:59 PM
two power conectors because it prolly was a server and had 2 psu's for redundancy so if one fails u still got power?

looks like it was a nice rig in its day

Tetrium2
June 26th, 2011, 11:08 AM
I had one of those. It doesn't need cache to run. It will run much faster with cache although it is pretty hard to find. It uses a standard AT power supply and will run OpenVMS along with all the rest of the previously mentioned. I had 8.3 on mine. It will also run Tru-64. In fact, it basically runs anything for Alpha which made them sort of cool.

They were sold as OEM boards for 3rd party designs. I don't think they were ever used in a DEC product but, who knows.
Doh! It sais so right in the manual the board should be able to run without any cache installed!

But still I wonder why both boards refused to boot?
Perhaps the idea with the diagnostics light are the way to go, but the last time I made a "PCB" (one with all those holes in them) was when I was in school, which was over 10 years ago! I don't have any of the required equipment around to create such a board and my knowledge on these things is rusty at best.




two power conectors because it prolly was a server and had 2 psu's for redundancy so if one fails u still got power?

looks like it was a nice rig in its day
At first I thought exactly that, but it turned out that one of the connectors isn't required to make the board boot. It's for 3.3v only and will not work with a standard AT PSU supplying 5v and 12v.

The screen stayed black and I heard no beeps (can't recall if I even had a speaker connected though) but the VRM near the CPU got pretty hot, so I know the board was receiving power.

leaknoil
June 29th, 2011, 09:58 PM
I had trouble getting it to work with other ram besides what it had on it when I got it. As in it didn't. I have a box of 72 pin simm here. Most out of ecc Sun boxes running 60ns but, all sorts of pc stuff in there too. It liked nothing. It is probably the ram and good luck finding some that works.

I used to love how the brochure said industry standard 72 pin simm. Except the two DEC ones in it nothing else ever worked.



Doh! It sais so right in the manual the board should be able to run without any cache installed!

But still I wonder why both boards refused to boot?
Perhaps the idea with the diagnostics light are the way to go, but the last time I made a "PCB" (one with all those holes in them) was when I was in school, which was over 10 years ago! I don't have any of the required equipment around to create such a board and my knowledge on these things is rusty at best.




At first I thought exactly that, but it turned out that one of the connectors isn't required to make the board boot. It's for 3.3v only and will not work with a standard AT PSU supplying 5v and 12v.

The screen stayed black and I heard no beeps (can't recall if I even had a speaker connected though) but the VRM near the CPU got pretty hot, so I know the board was receiving power.