Any DEC Alpha users?

MotionBlur

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I have been contemplating putting together a DEC Alpha system as I found a person who had a DS20 motherboard and cpus for cheap. It looks to be in ATX form factor, so adding an older PCI video card (S3 Trio/Virge series), 3com 509B for ethernet, 600w Antec power supply would work no?

I can't seem to find much if any info aside from the 164LX series motherboards about doing this. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!
 

tdg

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Had a DEC many years ago, however the DS20 is not a ATX board from the looks of it. Probably close but will likely require some modification to fit.
 

MotionBlur

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I have an E-ATX Lian Li I am not using right now too, I was just curious if there was anything special that it needed. I've played around with SGI Octanes (both 1 & 2) and learned all of their little nuances over the years, but DECs seem to be closer to PC/x86 hardware.
 

GreenMonkey

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I'm a VMS sysadmin but I spend most of our time on VAXstations. We have some Alphas but they don't break much so I don't have to support them nearly as much. I don't build them - just support them.

I might be able to help later though with console stuff, so I'll post in this thread to subscribe if you need help. I think the power supply is not a standard ATX one but I could be wrong. If I talk to one of our veteran HP techs I'll ask him.

What are you planning to run on it?
 

MotionBlur

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So I got the board, cpus and memroy yesterday, realized there were several "proprietary" power connectors on the board itself. It has the standard 24pin and 8 pin found on most boards these days, but then on each CPU has a 18 pin power connector and on the 5v line there is a proprietary connection.

Looks like there is no "power" set of pins either. Found the reset, power led, speaker etc, but couldn't find it. So now I am trying to hunt down just a DS20 chassis so I pop the cpus, ram and motherboard in it.

I took pictures just now in case any one is curious:





 

MotionBlur

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I found a DS20E on eBay for cheap, so I'll pop in my parts and report back. Hopefully it gets here this week.
 

niomosy

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As mentioned, what were you looking to do with the Alpha? Grabbing an OpenVMS hobbyist kit seems like a strong possibility.
 

Yossarian22

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I have been contemplating putting together a DEC Alpha system as I found a person who had a DS20 motherboard and cpus for cheap. It looks to be in ATX form factor, so adding an older PCI video card (S3 Trio/Virge series), 3com 509B for ethernet, 600w Antec power supply would work no?

I can't seem to find much if any info aside from the 164LX series motherboards about doing this. Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

Just curious, any particular reason why you're putting an DEC Alpha together?

*acknowledges his ignorance*
 

dustNbone

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My guess, because it's cool :) The same reason I'm looking for a good deal on a SPARC setup.

Dustin
 

MotionBlur

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Sorry for the delay in responding, been busy. But really growing up in the 90s overseas listening to my dad talk about his SGI Indigo workstation at work and all the Ultra Sparcs he had made me want to run all of those non-Intel/AMD architectures that I couldn't afford back then, but can now.

As for usage, not sure exactly, more for nostagia than anything. I took pictures of my "stack":





Got a HP DS20E with Dual 500mhz Alphas, Quad R14k 500mhz SGI Origin 300, 450mhz Sun Blade 100, Sun Cobalt RaQ 4 (with an AMD K6-2 3D CPU), Cisco 3548XL Router, Athlon II X2 running FreeNAS and a Sempron 140 running my ESXi server.
 

dustNbone

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I bet you could get the whole stack folding and turn off your central heating in winter.
 

MotionBlur

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With the door closed to that room and being on the 3rd floor of my house, it does get quite toasty.
 

GreenMonkey

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Well, you didn't say what you are going to run on it, but If you end up running VMS on that Alpha, I'm a VMS sysadmin, so I might be able to help you out with any problems. I spend more time on VAXstations than Alpha boxes, but I've got experience with both.
 

ntba

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I remember posting about this a while ago, I'm glad someone else is on board with Alpha based machines, I myself have an Alphaserver DS10L and an Alphaserver 1000, I've been wanting to run a more modern version of VMS under the hobbyist license for a while now but haven't had a chance, I even have a stack of original VMS user manuals and such to go through!

Great systems and great equipment, nothing that a modern proc couldn't beat today, but in their day were damn good. Loud and hot those alphaservers run, I wish I had an alphastation to play with though!
 

ciscokid454

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I believe the power connector is proprietary. I had to get PC Power & Cooling to cable one of their power supplys up for me, almost 10 years ago.
Great little box.
 

niomosy

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I see the SGI Origin there - we still have one of those in production lol.

I still kinda miss the 32-way Origin 2000 we had as one of our big rendering servers. Also had 8 4-way Alpha servers running Digital UNIX. Good times.

I had three SGI's at home until a year or two ago. Two Indy's and a Challenge L but I never used them so decided to recycle them.

Sorry, bit off-topic. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Alpha thread.
 

Artlace

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Hi,

I am new to the forum. I am also in the process of putting together an Alpha "Jensen" for myself. I worked with Alphaservers and owned a few Alphastations before (PWS500 and MiataGL) so just thought to share my experiences so far:

- They may seem to be standardized but they're not. Extra connectors and holes at the wrong locations will always happen.
- They're picky of the memory they use. Be it parity SIMM or DIMM-EDO, they have their own taste. In case of PWS500 it only took its own RAM. The Jensen even determines the number of banks per RAM. Fussy bastard....
- For me the PWS500 didn't even start if the cache cooler fan wasn't connected. Unfortunately it was broken so I connected a bit bigger one which I had to nudge right after powering it on otherwise the whole thing powered itself off
- The Jensen (don't know about the others) will fail to boot if it can't save any settings so a 4.5V battery is needed.

I will try to be a bit faithful to the "brand" so it will be put into a HP or Compaq case. Chances to get a DEC Prioris or any similar case are very slim......
It was possible to get these machines for free about 5-10 years ago so didn't have to worry about any of these.
 

MotionBlur

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I see the SGI Origin there - we still have one of those in production lol.

I've got a whole rack full of them now:


They are very neat when you start getting into SSI (Single System Image) with the Numalink connections. It was very cool the first time I paired 2 4gb 600mhz Quad R14k Origin 300s together, ssh'd in and ran top to see 8 processors and 8gb of ram. It's too bad the power brick and numalink router are louder than the Origin 300s so I can't run them when the wife is home.

On a side note, I did end up getting a DS20e, swapped in the 2 667mhz processors I got at the start of this thread, but the wife said no to running the DS20e (probably the loudest machine I've ever come in contact with). I got a PWS433a a year or so ago off of eBay for $50 shipped, needed some more ram (and as others have said it was extremely picky, I went through a ton of ECC PC100 ram). Though an IDE->SATA adapter with a lower end SSD has been working great. Unfortunately I have the older revision that does not have ATA 33 so I'm stuck with ~16.6mb/s. I currently have NT4 SP6a running on it with VC++ 6 and VB 6. I was hoping to get a semi-current version of GCC up and running on there so we could get the latest versions of Apache, PHP and maybe even Mono on there to make it a bit more "2014" similar to the nekoware project for mips/IRIX machines.

On a completely different side note, I do have OpenVMS on an HP zx2000 Itanium 2 machine, though I am currently rocking Windows Server 2008 R2 for ia64 on it right now doing comparisons between native ia64 compiled software and the emulation layer that the Itanium does (it's been interesting).
 

LZ_Xray

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Congrats on that fine rack-o-MIPS! Ever since drooling over R4000s 25 years ago I've always dug MIPS-based retro rigs.

Although these days, if you think about it, a PSP is a MIPS-based retro rig :D

Dig me some Alphas too. Great thread.




 
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