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HOW to access/ activate IDE on DEC ALPHA

Posted on 2001-08-21
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Last Modified: 2013-12-05
Hello!

I am currently working on a DEC Alpha XL266 to rebuild it to a server (with RAID and all). This motherboard has a IDE connection on board but I cannot enter any disk on it. It seems that some BIOS acecess is necessary to make it possible. The thing is that I cannot find any info on this in the documentation (I have not all) and ARC an ALPHABIOS I am not able to access as on a Intel/ AMD platform.

Any suggestions?

Kind regards,

HansCie
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Question by:orenda
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14 Comments
 
LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Roscoe
ID: 6412150
Need more details.... can you give me the DEC model/part number(s) off of the label which has the serial number? The ID on the case is often not accurate...

Alpha systems had to have a separate disk (similar to Compaq's SmartStart CD, or IBM's MCA configuration utilities) to get in and change system settings.... what server NOS are you planning on installing? NT4? The motherboard BIOS revision level has to be tailored to the OS (and revision)...

May be a pause in reply, due to work/study issues...
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Author Comment

by:orenda
ID: 6412485
The chip is 21064A it has SCSI 1 GB and SCISI TapeDeck. I have floppy firmware version 4.49 (newest is 4.57 I did not try that yet).
Are you suggesting that detecting of new hardware (like drives) goes through running the firmware floppy?
In some of the readme's there is hint towards "console firmware commands". A list of these I also cannot find in any of the documentation I have.
First I think I am going to set-up NT-workstation as a server, but I plan on having Linux Debian for better functionality. The first thing is to get all the hardware accessible (RAID card etc.)

Thanks

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Expert Comment

by:Roscoe
ID: 6413414
Sorry, I did not make myself clear.... CPU model was helpful (but many systems use same CPU), I'm talking about a label on outside of the DEC case.... the DEC part number (P/N) is usually next to system serial number (S/N). This might be on bottom or rear of your machine....
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Author Comment

by:orenda
ID: 6413631
I am not near my machine now, so I'll be back in a few hours to give you these details....

regards,

HansC
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

by:magarity
ID: 6414214
This machine almost certainly needs a special boot floppy or CD to access the BIOS setup.  A common trick in higher end machines to restrict hardware administrative functions away from casual users.  You will need to scrounge around to find it or call Compaq to get a new one.

regards,
magarity
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Author Comment

by:orenda
ID: 6415630
Well the following details apply.....

model:SN A21WW-CP
SN: PC 54815609

I don't know what it says to you but the only thing I can get of it that it is a 266 Mhz system....

Kind regards,

HansCie
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Author Comment

by:orenda
ID: 6428030
Hope to hear from you soon,

Kind regards,

HansCie
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Roscoe
ID: 6447020
Orenda... sorry about dropping out of sight - I was doing a final study blitz before writing my Cisco CCNA exam - passed exam, and can now return to land of the living <grin>... This long posting should keep you busy for a while....<GRIN!!>

Now, I worked primarily on Alpha servers - based on the info you've provided, I believe we're dealing with an AlphaStation - I don't believe your machine is capable of more than one processor. And a confession - its been so  long, that I had forgotten how to get into the SRM or the ARC - thank goodness for bookmarks!!! As I'm not familiar with your hardware, I'm going to point you in the direction of lots of information (maybe more than you need or want...)

First off, the main URL which has tons of online info is :

http://www.compaq.com/support/files/alphant/

The link to "February 1998 Configuration Guide" (a zip file) is one you'll want - help galore!! I'm not sure if you do or don't have AlphaBios - see ABHELP.HLP file.... For ARC, see ARCSETUP.HLP or .TXT which has instructions about non AlphaBios System setup - Note that you'll have to change the system environment - but, good news, your setup is (or should be) menu driven....

You also have links to the system utilities and firmware on this page.... - and yes, a quick check indicates that you have the right firmware version -

Next, this following URL leads you to tons more UNIX-related stuff....

http://www.compaq.com/alphaserver/index.html

I am worried about getting Linux to coexist with NT (unless you know about some tweaks that I don't) - try

http://www.alphalinux.org/

...basically because of the environment that the system is designed to present to the OS.... you have to switch between different types for different OS. You might end up wasting lots of time to get it to work. (or not).

And finally, depending on your system, look here for more firmware and/or utilities and help....

http://gatekeeper.dec.com/pub/DEC/Alpha/firmware/ 

(don't be put off by version 6 - I believe that's the CD release version....) Depending on your internet speeds, you might have to order that CD as (if its like the Compaq SmartStart) it probably has 300 MB or more of stuff.... there are also instructions here for various boot floppies depending on OS...

http://www.compaq.com/support/files/alphant/relnotes/  - applies to other systems, may be some tips...

I also did a check on Google, using "alpha hardware configuration" and found my pages above plus tons more stuff, including Linux help....

One page I found elsewhere refers to the EB164 motherboard - maybe this matches yours...
http://gatekeeper.dec.com/pub/Digital/info/semiconductor/literature/21164um.pdf 
This manual has instructions on waking up the system.....

Hope this points you in the right direction.... Ross

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Author Comment

by:orenda
ID: 6449121
Well Roscoe,

These links seem like a goldmine, although some of them I found myself already throught the ftp.digital.com site. Your links seem more interesting and up toi date. I did not know that Compaq still had infor under their own name that could be of help. So..... as you say... i will need some time to process this info..... One thing you coiuld maybe help me with already..... I have only a little clue of how to access the BIOS of this system I have (which is PC164, I think and has probably a PC164 board in stead of your suggestion of EB164, I will check that by studying the EB164/21164 manual you are suggesting, maybe the lay-out will still be the same).

So... my one question now is: Do I access the (indeed menu-driven) BIOS on the machine itself (and how do I do that?) or do I setup a terminal (which one?) with a COM-COM port connection and access the BIOS through that as a DEC-engineer suggested. The last option leaves me still with questions like: what terminal emulator, what protocol etc. should I use...???

You see, only one small question (....). But sofar I am really happy with the links you provided......

Kind regards,


HansCIe


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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Roscoe
ID: 6449593
Hmm - catch-22 - systems I had access to allowed me to create the boot floppies (and NT CD had a basic ARC disk image on it) - I'm going to have to dig into my original Microsoft NT4 training manuals to see if there's an indication as to how one "bootstraps" an install like this when you only have 1 machine. As it's just before midnight here (and a long weekend - wife has plans), I might be a little slow - will try to have answer to you by Tuesday night.... Glad I can help point you towards enlightenment <grin!>
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Author Comment

by:orenda
ID: 6449931
Well I have 3 machines up and going and I can see information being pumped to the com-port. The thing is I cannot find a terminal or anything that is working and that can interpret the data on the DEC-ALPHA com-port.

Well I hear from you later!

Kind regards,


HansCie
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Expert Comment

by:ComTech
ID: 6703960
Hi all,

This question has been open for quite awhile. I am going to allow feedback from the questioner and experts. If it is not resolved, I will delete or accept an answer based on the info I have been given. Experts, feel free to offer input, or even suggest who you  think is correct. I will monitor this question for a period of 5-7 days and come back and evaluate this question.

Questioner, if you were helped, chooses whom you would like to award the question to, and Accept Comment.  It is your responsibility to complete this question.

Thank you,
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PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COMMENT AS AN ANSWER
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by:VirusMinus
ID: 7814600
Dear questionner/expert(s)

No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I'll leave a recommendation in the Cleanup topic area that this question is to be:

- PAQ'd and pts removed

Please leave any comments here within the next seven days.

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