Collaborating on tinkering connects SSD to legacy

Things didn’t go well when first trying to connect SSD storage with an HP 3000. By today, the solid state storage is running on a server in the Cleveland area. The success springs from a willingness to experiment and the purposeful pursuit of a solution.

One of the greatest vulnerabilities of HP’s MPE/iX iron is the server’s hard drives. The spinning media more than 20 years old is usually running on waning time. John Zoltak struggled to find replacement drives for his company’s Series 957. Could the solution lay in solid state drives?

Work with a developer of the SCSI2SD hardware in Australia ensued. Most of that product’s target lies in the music industry, where SCSI still has a big profile on the PCs that link musical instruments with software.

“I had an old PC at home and had an old Adaptec SCSI card laying around,” Zoltak says. “I don’t throw stuff out. I was testing with SCSI2SD at home, since the visibility of the SCSI bus is very limited on an HP 3000. On the PC, I could reboot in seconds and test right away. Then the developer got an Adaptec SCSI card just like the one in Zoltak’s PC. “We finally worked through the problems and he sent me replacement SCSI2SD cards,” he says.

“I didn’t get back to it right away. About a year later I decided to make another effort. I had also talked to Stan Sieler, who had tried an earlier version of the SCSI2SD card. He was very disappointed. The speed was atrocious, and he said the developer was unhelpful.

It was a first stab at a collaboration that included one of the best-known wizards of HP 3000 IO. Poor reviews from someone like Sieler would be enough to discourage most managers. Zoltak found the speed acceptable.

“It seems to me that this version works well enough,” Zoltak says of the breakthrough sequence. “It supports 10MB synchronous transfers. The HP 3000 has been running for over a year non-stop using SSD. I recently had to extract another database and modify some BASIC programs to get the data out. The SSD worked well for that effort.”

A 3000 colleague, Keven Miller, has all been on the trail to connect a 3000 with SSD. He got his SCSI2SD cards as well, but had not put it service yet, Zoltak says. “I just have our card laying on top of the 3000. I haven’t gotten around to mounting it in the slot below the tape drive. It’s been running since December 2018.”

Zoltak began with designing rolling equipment for the company. His journey in IT starts with an Apple II, and now it’s into SSD on a Series 900. Collaboration and persistence link legacy technology with modern peripherals.

Image credit: Nicholas Thomas, Unsplash

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