Hardware Fanatism Rehab
Welcome! This is the former web site of the Winnili OpenVMS
Cluster initiative. New plans and ideas, for this domain, are on their way and
‘under construction’. For now, I hope you'll enjoy these few memories
accompanied by pictures.
The plan was, originally, to provide remote access — at one point I even considered
public remote access — to my VMScluster
consisting of largely maximized HP
OpenVMS “I64” nodes — i.e. ‘cluster building blocks’,
if you will — consisting mostly of HP Integrity-class rx2600 and
2U server-type systems.
The aforementioned nodes each had the following...
All whilst running VMS I64 V8.4 via the “OpenVMS
Hobbyist Program” with the non-commercial licensing as provided by it. I also had
various tape devices hooked up, mostly DAT (DDS-4, -5 and
-6) and Ultrium (LTO-3 primarily), for obvious back-up
purposes; the indigeneous VMS BACKUP tool is certainly a very adequate one.
- Processor-wise, either:
- 24 Gbytes of grouped, multi-channel, PC2100/PC2700 ECC-registered DDR-SDRAM;
- Multiple fiber-optical 10-Gbit
Ethernet NICs, particularly as cluster interconnects for the SCA, SCS and MSCP/TMSCP protocols,
but also for local DECnet and TCP/IP file transfer means and methods (e.g. FTP/SFTP and CIFS);
- Typically more than one dual-channel Ultra320 SCSI LVD/SE
storage interconnect, besides the on-board HBAs, with three 300-Gbyte (mostly 15K
RPM) internal disks and additionally providing ~14 Tbytes of hardware RAID-5
storage (from the black external disk enclosure in the pictures) in the form of various
ODS-5 formatted volumes created
from ~2 terabyte slices (that's the largest volume size that VMS, as ov V8.4,
- Various copper 1-Gbit Ethernet NICs, mostly for DECnet and TCP/IP and in particular NAT-forwarded WAN access.
Those plans were sadly cancelled, eventually, because it proved to be too costly and large-scale
and time-consuming for me to administer. Especially certain security implications didn't make
it particularly attractive for me either (i.e. having to monitor the system at all times and be
responsible for who would gain access to it). I also wasn't sure about the viability
of the project, whether I'd attract people sincerely interested in VMS or mostly troublemakers
looking for a “shell host”... Since then, practically all my systems and many parts
were sold. What largely remains (amongst also other things), I will offer here. If you should
need anything and believe I may have it, please don't hesitate to contact me either.
Below is what I ran up to late 2012, except for the FC disk enclosure
(that is connected to an SGI Tezro graphics workstation). Since then I've
moved from this vast setup...
... to just this, beginning the first quarter of this year (2013).
It's a quad-core Intel Core i7 PCI-Express bus
“mini-PC” form factor system, with 16 Gbytes of dual-channel DDR3 RAM, SSD and
mechanical SATA internal storage, external Ultra320 SCSI storage (~14
Tbytes in RAID-5) and a dual-channel/port fiber-optical 10-Gbit
converged network/storage adapter with FCoE capability (although at the
moment I'm using the CNA card as a 10-Gbit Ethernet
NIC; which, if I may add, works excellently).
It sure also is nice that I can hear myself think again, hear birds sing outside and
concentrate on my work to the fullest, without all that noise (even separated by a wall, in
another room). It also certainly doesn't feel like my house is being heated constantly (...
also during summers).
I now virtualize and emulate everything I need in this tiny, yet powerful and silent,
beast. I've been emulating VMS (and Tru64 UNIX as well) since then, with success. (So, yes, I still run
these operating systems.) It's not even consuming nearly a quarter(!) of one of
the former systems — as seen in the above pictures — that I used to own and run.
What I forgot to add, in case you may ask if I ever bothered with anything else: As a matter
of fact, I did. I diversified’ my hardware setup with Alpha systems at various points in time. For
instance, after selling my last two rx2600s, I got my hands on two 466 MHz DECchip 21264/EV6 AlphaServer DS10 systems.
About a year/year-and-a-half ago, I got my hands on a — and for that matter one of the
nicest and most desirable AXP systems ever made — mint-condition 1 GHz DECchip 21264C/EV68CB AlphaServer DS15.
It performed great, it also had an ‘official’(!) — and as such very,
very, pricey and rare — HP-branded ATI Radeon 7500 PCI graphics adapter — and just so you know, that is more or
less the ‘best’ can get in terms of graphics offerings for VMS and
Tru64 UNIX, providing also support for hardware acceleration through so-called
OpenGL, essentially) — factory-installed, along with one of those front access
hot-swap disk cages (for SCA2 80-pin SCSI LVD/SE disks) and came with a good amount of
memory, which I maximized to 4 Gbytes. Boot times were amazing, also responsiveness. I mostly
ran VMS, also a bit of Tru64 UNIX, where the latter required
a rather interesting installation procedure ... with tons of disc-swapping!
(Unless you, of course, go for an disk image dump on a disk, if you can afford that convenience.)
I should note that I originally started out with a 266 MHz DECchip 21064/EV4
with only 256 Mbytes of memory and a couple of small DEC and Compaq RZ-series disks in so-called
Ultimately I sold most of these systems off as well, including all the above mentioned.
AXP-wise, currently, only two DEC Multia/UDB systems
— one 166 MHz DECchip 21066/LCA4 VX40B and another 233 MHz DECchip 21068/LCA4 VX42B — remain with only one (the 21066-variant) of the two
fully ‘functional’. But, these are (or this one is) mostly for ‘toying
around’. I may actually decide to sell these as well. For now, I run mostly Tru64 UNIX on one, as much as I get the chance to...
And, no, I never owned any VAX hardware
(only ever emulated it). The bulk of those systems were way before my time, too.
At the moment I'm emulating both VAX and AXP. You may wonder about I64, why I
‘won't’ emulate that. It does not quite seem possible yet(?). Just to
give you an indication, see the current state of NetBSD/ia64. They're usually ahead of porting to ‘unusual
platforms’, so that should give you an indication of the progress made there. Although,
I can also imagine little interest for it, as the platform isn't the most charismatic
(Open) Virtual Memory System
2: Intel Itanium, also known as IA-64 and IPF, also curiously named “Industry Standard 64” in the VMS
context (as seen in the standard SYS$ANNOUNCE message, like at login)
industry standard rack-mounting units
4: Digital Files-11
On-Disk Structure level 5
5: Fiber Channel over
6: Converged Network Adapter
7: Alpha-processor, also known as AXP
— presumably meaning ‘Almost eXactly Prism’,
referring to the discontinued 32-bit Prism RISC processor ISA — which
is an exclusively 64-bit RISC processor ISA developed by Digital and typically found in (e.g.) AlphaServer and AlphaStation systems
Storage Building Block for Digital StorageWorks storage-shelf
Digital Equipment Corporation, eventually just Digital
(i.e. “[d|i|g|i|t|a|l]”) and which was officially used until acquirement
by Compaq in 1997 and
subsequently by HP in 2001
Virtual Address eXtension, 32-bit CISC processor ISA by Digital from around 1976~'77
Please note that this site mostly functions as a ‘placeholder’ for the time
being. Something will soon come to replace it.
[ local time: Sat May 25 09:55:52 CEST 2013 |