[rescue] Closet cleaning IV

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Sat Sep 13 13:19:18 CDT 2003

On Saturday, September 13, 2003, at 01:58 PM, Andrew Weiss wrote:
>> * VAX Hardware Handbook 1982-83 (covers lots and lots of hardware 
>> details of
>> 11/730, 11/750, 11/780, and 11/782)
> Well I got this yesterday... and man I have to say I am now a true 
> believe in all things VAX.  I was reading through the architecture 
> stuff alone and there is stuff in there that Linux is just now trying 
> to add. (re: a recent Linux Journal article on events based kernel 
> scheduling for Telecom and real-time applications)... and this book is 
> a VAX book from 1982.

   Yes. :)  The VAX architecture is widely thought of as the most 
elegant processor architecture.  Ever.

   I think I'd consider it "perfect" if it were 100% orthogonal, it 
incorporated a few little architectural features from the CDC 6000 
family (like paired auto-loading address & data registers), and vector 
operations as standard features.

>   Preemptive multi-tasking, demand paged virtual memory, etc. etc. etc.

   Yes. :)  Actually, VAXen had that stuff long before 1982...more like 

   VAXen are minicomputers.  Minicomputers evolved from mainframes, 
where a lot of concepts that we think of as "new" have been around for 
forty years.

   Keep in mind...today's microprocessors (indeed, EVERYTHING we have 
today, with the exception of current mainframes) evolved from a 
calculator chip that Intel developed for a Japanese calculator 
manufacturer (called Busicom) in 1969...the i4004.  A *calculator* 
chip.  In short, the world thinks of today's computer technology 
(ignoring mainframes for the moment) as something which has been 
evolving since the 1940s...when in actuality, it's been evolving since 
the early 1970s.  Not as "advanced" as one might think, and with a 
not-so-noble lineage. (not the fact that it was Intel, but the fact 
that it was designed to be a calculator chip rather than a 
general-purpose processor)

   An example of this is SMP.  Multiprocessor computers are hailed as 
some great, modern, recent (in the grand scale, past 5-7yrs or so) 
technological achievement.  Bullshit!  There were multiprocessor 
computers in the computing mainstream in 1960.

   I've been slowly writing an article about this over the past year or 
so.  Perhaps I'll finish it someday.

> Very nice stuff.... only problem is ... now I want one..... and they 
> use way too much juice...

   No...*some* VAXen use a lot of juice.  There are VAXen that were 
build in 1978, and there are VAXen that were built in the past couple 
of years.  Modern high-tech VAXen don't pull much power at all.

   A very common misconception about VAXen relates to the VAX-4000/x00 
series.  Most of those machines (from the model 400 on up) are of 
relatively modern design, and despite their physical size and their use 
of a high-current IEC power connector, they don't pull much power at 
all.  And you can barely hear them running.

   I've heard listmembers whine "Oh this VAX4000-400 pulls SO much 
power, boo hoo" ...have they MEASURED it?  No?  Well, I have.  Mine 
pulls less than two amperes.  I have lamps in my house that pull more 
power than that.

>  somehow my dumpster dived Vaxstation just doesn't seem like it's 
> gonna cut it.

   What model is it?  I might be interested in adopting it if you get a 
beefier one.

> Methinks a 4000/90 would be good.

   They are nice (and FAST) but still command a pretty good pile of 
bucks. :-/


Dave McGuire                 "You don't have Vaseline in Canada?"
St. Petersburg, FL                     -Bill Bradford

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