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May 09, 2018

SSD devices continue to serve 3000s

SSD DriveThe LinkedIn Group for the HP 3000 Community carried news of solid state storage this week. Tracy Johnson reported that his XP12000 disk array has been replaced by a two-unit SSD array.

Four years ago, Johnson said he was moving in that XP12000 to replace an HP VA7100 disk array. There was a time when the VAs (Virtual Arrays) were the new technology adapting to the world of MPE/iX.

SSDs were once only a dream and a wish for 3000 users. In the late 1980s a RAM-based disc was on offer from Imperial Computing, a whopping 50 MB whose compatibility was never tested in the field by a 3000 customer. By the start of the 3000's Transition Era (the mid-2000s) developers and administrators were experimenting with solid state devices being offered for other platforms.

In 2015, Beechglen launched a service that employs SSD devices for storage. Johnson said this is the solution he's now employed to replace that XP12000. "It's slicker than snot on a doorknob," he said when the used XP model started to serve his 3000 back in 2014. He hasn't come up with slickness comparison for today's SSD solution yet.

The XP12000 is faster than the VA array, but Chad Lester at ThomasTech said the more modern XPs might be a better investment. Upgrading storage is one of the best ways to improve performance and lock down 3000 reliability. "The XP12000 is light years from the VA AutoRaid family," he says. "I would have recommended an XP24000 or 20000, though, due to some very pricy XP12000 parts that are globally out of stock."

The Beechglen offering is available as an ongoing data service ($325 a month for 6 TB mirrored) or a $4,900 outright purchase with a year of support included. The company leveraged an MPE/iX source code license to build the SAN.

Having the source code to MPE/iX allowed us to provide an interface to our in-house developed FiberChannel targets that run on HP DL360s. This allows up to 6TB of RAID 1 storage in 1U of rack space, and provides advanced functionality, like replication and high availability.

Mike Hornsby of Beechglen says there are IO performance improvements in this solution, starting at twice as fast up to 100X, depending on what's being replaced. The company recommends an upgrade to an A-Class or N-Class to take advantage of native Fiber Channel. The SCSI-to-Fiber devices tend to develop amnesia, he explained, and the resultant reconfiguring for MPE is a point of downtime. "Those were never built for MPE anyway," he said of SCSI-to-Fiber devices.

People without vision see putting SSDs in 3000s like giving a McLaren racing engine in an SUV. A more useful solution is out there, and working: using SSDs to support a virtualized 3000 running on an Intel-based PC. "You could house your 3000 in a Stromasys emulator running on a Linux box with VMware," said Gilles Schipper, "employing as many SATA SSD disks as you want on your host."

Allegro's Stan Sieler was testing SSDs of 2009 with the 3000, wired directly to the 3000's bus. "I'm thinking about SSD and SATA/SCSI adapters to speed up the 'obsolete- but still world's-best business computer, the HP 3000," Sieler said nine years ago. Some dreams just take awhile to become true.

07:34 PM in Homesteading | Permalink

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