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Fast Hard Drive for an old 8088?

Posted on 1998-04-09
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Last Modified: 2012-05-04
Ok, here's a historical challenge.  I have saved for hysterical reasons my still working original IBM PC from 1982.  Recently installed with an old 8 bit vga card and color VGA, screen output is now fast and smooth.  Now I'd like to replace the old MFM hard drive with something much faster, just to show how snappy an old 8088 can really be!  

So what are my options for hard drive replacement and controller cards (remember, only an 8 bit bus)?  

Best useable response gets an "A".  Who's up for a trip down memory lane!
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Question by:cymbolic
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Expert Comment

by:mikecr
ID: 1134150
You'll be choking the performance of the hard drive by sticking it in an 8088. Is it worth the money?

Mike
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1134151
My guess:
For the (best?) hard drive would be an 8-bit SCSI controller w/BIOS to make use of one of the newer/faster drives.
The fastest possibility would be to get a memory card and stuff it full of  todays cheap RAM for a RAMDRIVE!
regards,
Ralph

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alexo earned 250 total points
ID: 1134152
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by:cymbolic
ID: 1134153
Thanks, guys! I'm checking these out & will get back.  For your info, I have anumber of old (but faster) ide drives laying around that I could put in the box if I could somehow run an IDE in the old 8088.
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Expert Comment

by:jrhelgeson
ID: 1134154
You can run a 16 bit IDE controller in an 8 bit slot.

You can even run a VLB controller in an 8 bit slot.

It just won't use the full throughput of the controller, it would just use the 8 bit's available to it.

I have an old 8 bit Trantor T130b (adaptec) SCSI card (with drivers & doc's) sitting here on my desk that I will give to you for $5 as long as you pay for shipping.

I think I even might have a couple old SCSI hard drives.  I'll look into it.

jr

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Expert Comment

by:alexo
ID: 1134155
Problem is, now your interface will limit the performance of the drive (instead of the other way around) so I suggest you don't spend too much on fast drives.  Shop by seek time (not affected by interface speed) instead of transfer rate.
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by:cymbolic
ID: 1134156
jr,
 do you recall how much memory the driver software requires for the scsi drivers?  I'm still wating for feedback on a number of inquiries I've made tracking down the web links - don' t throw the old card out yet, please!
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Expert Comment

by:jrhelgeson
ID: 1134157
alexo,
If you are referring to the use of a 16 bit card in an 8 bit slot, you are incorrect.
If anything, it would be faster due to the higher speed chipsets used.

Cymbolic,
It only takes 20k memory.
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Expert Comment

by:alexo
ID: 1134158
>> If you are referring to the use of a 16 bit card in an 8 bit slot, you are incorrect.
I'm not.  How can you use a 16-bit card in an 8-bit slot anyway?
I was referring to the bandwidth of the PC bus which is less than the ~10MB/s modern drives can sustain.

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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1134159
With that screaming 4MHz CPU, I don't think it'll matter much anyway!
Ralph

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Expert Comment

by:alexo
ID: 1134160
4.77 IIRC.  The DMA modes may be faster (correct me if I'm wrong).
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1134161
cymbolic,
Tried the ramdisk yet?
Ralph

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Author Comment

by:cymbolic
ID: 1134162
rmarotta,
 No, not yet. I would first like to see if I can get an IDE drive to work, since I have some old ones around that I can use with the right I/F card.  So far I've researched the net addresses, and emailed some likely sources for product availability & pricing, but have heard nothing yet.  Since a lot of these guys deal in old stuff, they may not really be very active in picking up & responding to mail.
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Expert Comment

by:pfarkas
ID: 1134163
It sounds as though you have more than one computer that are reasonably close to each other.

I found that data transfer was faster through an Ethernet connection to the IBM PC than from any drive I bothered to install locally.

(as an aside, VGA in a PC is cool, but not as cool as Windows 3.0 on a Hercules or CGA display)
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1134164
cymbolic,
Any progress yet?
Ralph

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Author Comment

by:cymbolic
ID: 1134165
Yep. Got one response from a reseller of old PC parts on an XT/IDE card he'll sell me for $40 with no docs and no advise on what IDE drives supported.  Still trying to dig up some specs on the card to see if it's useable with a pre-XT machine.  Will get back to you.  Thx!
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Expert Comment

by:rmarotta
ID: 1134166
As I recall, the IDE interface that I used with my old XT used a different address than the one used for later AT models.  I can't remember what it was, but maybe this might jog someone elses memory.
Regards,
Ralph

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