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Thread: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA


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Permlink Replies: 19 - Pages: 2 [ 1 2 | Next ] - Last Post: Aug 12, 2015 1:00 AM Last Post By: Bunsen
landonf


Posts: 86
Registered: 7/23/12
AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: May 5, 2013 9:45 AM
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Attachment IMG_0916.jpg (1.9 MB)
Attachment IMG_0917.jpg (2.3 MB)
I don't know if this really counts as 'hardware hacking', but I noticed that ArtMix is selling a SCSI->SATA adapter on eBay, so I picked one up to take a look: http://www.artmix.com/SATA_SCSI_AZMN_II_1.html

The devices use the ACARD ACHIP ARC760-B SCSI<->ATA66 chipset:

http://www.acard.com/english/fb01-product.jsp?prod_no=ARC%20760&type1_idno=9&idno_no=54&ino=114



Along with another chipset to handle ATA<->SATA, the JMicron JM20330:

http://www.jmicron.com/JM20330.html



The SCSI chipset is the same as is used on the Aztec CFMonster; I can't imagine there's any performance gain to adding the additional SATA translation layer, as compared to a 133-200x CF card, but I'm not exactly a CF expert. I planned to try benchmarking the device using the ATTO Silicon Express IV cards I also just acquired, but I can't for the life of me seem to make them work in my IIci, so I haven't gotten around to the benchmarking part yet.
tt


Posts: 144
Registered: 8/25/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: May 10, 2013 3:14 PM   in response to: landonf in response to: landonf
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My experience with CF cards is they are the bottleneck at least with the AztecMonster and SE/30. The flash type can make a difference (SLC vs MLC), but probably not close to the performance boost the cache a hard drive would contribute. It would be interesting to see if the performance is significantly better with an SATA SSD vs CF. *Assuming there is not a hit with the extra layer of translation between SATA to ATA. A small SSD is approaching the cost of a high-end CF.

Message was edited by: tt
landonf


Posts: 86
Registered: 7/23/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: May 23, 2013 10:43 PM   in response to: tt in response to: tt
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tt wrote:
My experience with CF cards is they are the bottleneck at least with the AztecMonster and SE/30. The flash type can make a difference (SLC vs MLC), but probably not close to the performance boost the cache a hard drive would contribute. It would be interesting to see if the performance is significantly better with an SATA SSD vs CF. *Assuming there is not a hit with the extra layer of translation between SATA to ATA. A small SSD is approaching the cost of a high-end CF.

Huh, well, I guess I'll still try benchmarking them when I get the chance. SATA-1 has a max speed of 5MB/sec, and my CompactFlash cards claim 30MB/sec read/write, so I'd have expected SCSI-1 itself to max out before the CF cards did.
bbraun


Posts: 493
Registered: 7/25/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: May 24, 2013 11:24 AM   in response to: landonf in response to: landonf
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I think there's a lot of variables to work through.
For reads, the size of the block size matters a lot. Most of the modern CF cards are optimized for larger read sizes, but old macs do smaller reads. Which makes sense in both cases IMO, since stuff has just gotten larger. In my various driver endeavors I've found the overwhelming majority of IO operations are less than 2K. Many of them just 512 bytes. App launch is an exception, that seems to do single read operations in much larger sizes. However, that's the request to the driver. How the driver ends up translating that call to the device is up to the driver.
The driver is typically installed by the formatting software, and there's a lot of those floating around.

The other thing I worry about is latency in the translation of SCSI to whatever else. Given that most of the operations are pretty small, any latency will add up.

For writes, I've noticed that a lot of CF cards, particularly the cheaper ones, can't handle these sustained writes. I'm suspecting it's a combination of things. 1) the small writes don't fit well into flash blocks, so it ends up needing to read out the current flash block, and then write back out with the update, and 2) that kills wear leveling. The better cards, like the SanDisk Ultra and Extreme series' tend to perform better in this case.

And the other thing to keep in mind is all pre-SCSI Manager 4.3 SCSI operations are synchronous by necessity (SCSI Manager didn't provide any interface for async operations), and even with SCSI Manager 4.3, many of the Finder and other operations are synchronous. Also, the Finder and other applications end up calling through the device's driver, which then makes the SCSI Manager calls. So again, back to what the driver is doing.
It might be interesting to disassemble some of the more common drivers (like Apple HD SC Setup) to see what they're doing and see if there's any optimizations that can be made for accessing newer media.

Anyway, just some thoughts. It'll be interesting to see your results.
tt


Posts: 144
Registered: 8/25/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Aug 8, 2013 1:56 AM   in response to: landonf in response to: landonf
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Landon, any chance of benchmarking this baby? =)
tt


Posts: 144
Registered: 8/25/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Jan 11, 2014 3:56 AM   in response to: tt in response to: tt
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Bump - ?? =)
techknight

Posts: 110
Registered: 10/13/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Mar 21, 2014 11:35 PM   in response to: tt in response to: tt
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I have been looking at this ARC chip for awhile now, the full datasheet isnt available to the public, and the sources for getting this IC is the chinese black-market.

My guess is they liquidated a supply, or cloned an existing PCB to run that IC, who knows.

Just makes me wonder how they make these, maybe strict license with acard?

sorry for digressing.
tt


Posts: 144
Registered: 8/25/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Mar 23, 2014 1:45 AM   in response to: techknight in response to: techknight
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It's cool technight =) I was hoping to hear from landonf about his experiences... I don't know of anyone else who has purchased this item from artmix.
Gregory

Posts: 1
Registered: 1/16/15
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Jan 16, 2015 3:07 PM   in response to: tt in response to: tt
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Hi Guys,

I received AztecMonster II this week from Artmix. It works great on a Macintosh SE under OS 6.0.8 as an internal HDD replacement (with Intel 320 series 40 GB SSD).

At first, Macintosh SE couldn't see or mount the SSD, but here is how it finally worked for me:

1. I installed an SSD with AztecMonster II into external SCSI box and connected it to a PowerBook 165 (OS 7.5.5).
2. Successfully formatted and partitioned SSD on the PowerBook using FWB Hard Disk Toolkit PE v 1.6.
3. Connected SCSI box into the Macintosh SE and copied System from the old HDD to the 1st partition of the SSD.
4. Replaced an old HDD with new SSD with AztecMonster II on Macintosh SE. Then it booted successfully on the first try and mounted all partitions.

I have 7 partitions on SSD in total. The first partition is a 500 MB bootable partition (contains OS 6.0.8). Other 6 partitions are 1,7 GB each.

Things that didn't work:

1. Silverlining 5.4 and 5.3.1: both versions were extremely buggy on both Macintosh SE (OS 6.0.8) and PowerBook 165 (OS 7.5.5).
2. FWB Hard Disk Toolkit PE v 1.6: I couldn't install it on Macintosh SE (freezes during install), but it was installed successfully on PowerBook 165 and worked great.
techknight

Posts: 110
Registered: 10/13/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Jan 18, 2015 1:57 PM   in response to: Gregory in response to: Gregory
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You know, I sat and thought, I do have slow CF performance from time to time, and they tend to get corrupt for odd reasons unknown.

Then I thought about it for a bit, I wonder if disk/partition alignment is a big issue? I know that with regular SSDs on PCs and Macs, that they partition alignment is critical and if its not aligned, gains piss poor performance and data faults. Most modern OSes and utilities auto-align the partition.

but our little macs do not.

Something to think about. with SSDs you have to do align=1024.

Message was edited by: techknight
tt


Posts: 144
Registered: 8/25/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Mar 11, 2015 3:28 AM   in response to: Gregory in response to: Gregory
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Gregory, thanks for posting your experience with this board. Do you have a slightly more modern SCSI machine to do speed benchmarks? (I don't know how fast your PB 165 SCSI bus is.)
fraveydank

Posts: 73
Registered: 4/23/15
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Apr 27, 2015 3:23 PM   in response to: tt in response to: tt
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Is there a demand for more things like these? I like the idea of SCSI2SD, but storing data on SD cards makes me (probably irrationally) nervous. I've been thinking for a long time about making a SCSI-SATA translation board for vintage machines that's really meant to work with older machines. TI's Sitara family has some ARM9 chips that have SATA ports (AM1808/1810) that could conceivably also be used as SCSI targets with appropriate voltage translation for about $15 in quantity (per chip).

At that rate, you might as well also put on an MMC slot and a nice hunk of NAND to provide things like configuration utilities with the board on a small solid state partition. They could almost certainly be sold for less than $50, and would have reach well beyond the vintage Mac community, since SCSI is standard on Suns, SGIs, NeXT cubes, VAXen, Alphas, etc... the Sitara could probably even handle very high end SCSI rates if need be.

I need to stop coming up with side projects, but if there were some tangible demand for this, it might be nice to get started.
bbraun


Posts: 493
Registered: 7/25/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Apr 27, 2015 10:18 PM   in response to: fraveydank in response to: fraveydank
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artmix's projects in the *Monster line were the first and more or less only game in town before SCSI2SD showed up, so SCSI2SD seemed like a great alternative being both cheaper and using the more readily available microSD cards vs. artmix's CF cards which are more expensive and less common these days.

I think there's a market for most anything that isn't a failing SCSI drive at this point. SD cards vary greatly in quality, but I think a lot of people view most anything as being more reliable than old 30yr old drives, and for things that are important, the old computers aren't the authoritative copy anyway. Most everything comes from a more modern machine these days.
The removable storage of the uSD card, and cheap replacements, is a plus IMO since I can move the (relatively expensive, usually more expensive than the machine it's in) to another machine, but keep the setup by swapping out the uSD card. But, not a huge deal, as long as it isn't a hot, noisy, 30yr old drive.

Capacity wise, the older machines can only have a 2GB filesystem, and nobody wants 80 different volumes showing up on their desktop, so there's little advantage to the higher capacities of SATA drives, when uSD already exceeds the capacity most people really use on these machines. Leaving a bunch of the media unformatted can help with both performance and longevity I guess.

SCSI to SATA for using SSD would be nice to reuse existing or older SSD's, but it seems the primary value would be for speed. The 68k macs all had 5MB/s SCSI, and I guess some of the later ppc's had 10MB/s. Some of the add-on nubus cards supported higher speeds, but they're both less common, and less functional as a boot device, since they need to be explicitly set in PRAM to be bootable (if no other media is attached and PRAM is blank, it still won't search them for a bootable volume). For folks that are interested in speed, I think doing a PDS to SATA adapter with a custom driver would be totally the way to go, although once you start getting into cards, you start limiting the machines it works with and a whole new can of worms.

But, I think there's pretty much a market for anything that replaces failing SCSI drives. In addition to the unix workstation market (I've used a SCSI2SD in a sun4m machine before, but I generally have SCSI-IDE adapters in most of the other machines), a huge audience for these types of things are some of the musicians that use older devices with scsi devices in them. And they seem less price sensitive than the mac market.
fraveydank

Posts: 73
Registered: 4/23/15
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: Apr 27, 2015 10:24 PM   in response to: bbraun in response to: bbraun
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All good points. Certainly the FS limitations hadn't escaped me, but my main thought was that lots of people have literal piles of SATA disks starting to litter their basements, and the fact that it reaches beyond just the 68K market into PPC, Sun, VAX, Alpha, synthesizer, etc. seems to point towards the logic of at least trying to support big volumes.

Anyway, food for thought. I'm going to be extremely busy for the next few weeks (not least because a second tiny human is going to be living in our house and screaming a lot within the next month), but we'll see what I think about this when I actually have the time to lay down some schematics. Maybe the lack of sleep will make it seem like a good idea...
tt


Posts: 144
Registered: 8/25/12
Re: AztecMonster II SCSI->SATA
Posted: May 24, 2015 4:08 AM   in response to: fraveydank in response to: fraveydank
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I hope you are able to spare some time on this project. =) The issue with existing solutions is they are not cheap enough relative to the cost of the old machines. I have a need to replace some hard drives for a couple machines I have in a classroom, however, the artmix and SCSI2SD cards are still too expensive.

Would it be possible to take a Raspberry Pi or the upcoming CHIP project boards and create a SCSI shield for them? It seems it could be a cheaper way to go, especially with the CHIP that comes with 4GB of flash storage for $15 shipped.

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