Frequently Asked Questions on the Emulator
3000 gets HP security alert. What the heck?

Emulator license issues boot up discussion

By Alan Yeo
ScreenJet Ltd.

[Editor's Note: Migration and 3000 renovation software and services supplier Alan Yeo led the way to organize this year's HP3000 Reunion, where the Stromasys CHARON HPA/3000 was first demonstrated and dissected. Here's his views on software licensing matters surrounding the emulator HP has licensed to use existing MPE/iX installations.]

Having been at the Stromasys demonstration at the Reunion, I'm very impressed where they have got. In fact I would go so far as to say that it's a done deal -- at some point in the not-too-distant future there will be a deployable emulator.

YeoAtReunionAs Craig Lalley has described, the model is very clean. One processor runs MPE (not an MPE clone or emulator, but real MPE), whilst another processor emulates the PA-RISC hardware, aka the HP 3000. So the fact that they have MPE booted means that virtually any software or compilers that run under MPE will also run under MPE on the emulated platform (they just won't know they are). It's in the underlying PA-RISC emulation that work is still required to emulate SCSI, network interfaces and other peripheral hardware. But that, as they say, is a simple matter of coding.

As I understand, it the emulator license agreement with HP specifies an PA-RISC 2.0 chip set. So we are talking A- and N-Class hardware emulation and supported peripherals. A and N Classes only support MPE/iX 7.5. This means that whilst the emulator theoretically could be modified to support 7.0, one would have to ask if there was any benefit in the work to do so. 7.5 would be a far more desirable place to be than 7.0. I don't think 2.0 PA-RISC hardware, and therefore an emulation, can run anything less than MPE 7.0.

However as far as moving from an HP 3000 running earlier versions of MPE than 7.0 to an emulated platform, I don't think there is a licensing problem. If you have a licensed copy of MPE you have a license for MPE, not a specific version of MPE. Therefore, HP should allow you to transfer your MPE license. The fact that on the emulator you require version 7.5 should be irrelevant to that process.

So as long as your programs will run under MPE 7.5 they should run on the emulator unaltered. If they don't run under 7.5 for any reason then you may need new versions from your software vendors, or possibly to recompile. Recompiling may be an issue, as I think there were updated versions of some compilers for PA RISC 2.0 -- and as yet I haven't seen any details on HP's position regarding the licensing/use of later subsystem software. But I'm sure that is just a technicality :-)

Software licensing (other than MPE) on an emulated platform is going to be the proverbial can of worms. I suspect that some [third party and independent] vendors will take a realistic approach -- that the majority of customers are going to get very little advantage running on an emulated HP 3000 over running on a real HP 3000 -- and will happily continue to support and earn revenue from it running on an emulated HP 3000. Others may be less reasonable.

There will no doubt be some lively discussions over the coming year as to what an HP 3000 is. But if a piece of hardware boots MPE and reports an identical HPSUSAN and HPCPUNAME it would be hard to say that it wasn't an HP 3000. As they say, 'If it looks like a fish and smells like a fish, it's probably a fish.'

As far as Tier-Licensed software goes, the argument that an emulated HP 3000 goes much quicker than the HP 3000 that it's emulating is a bit lame, I think. Consider if a third party vendor had released a utility that made a Tier 1 A-Class run 2-3 times quicker, or HP as a final gesture of good will had uncrippled them, or in fact had continued with HP 3000 development and introduced faster Tier 1 processors. Whilst there may have been a few companies disappointed that they couldn't extract more revenue, the bottom line is that it would have still been Tier 1 hardware. Others may disagree, but I maintain that a given piece of software has no more intrinsic value when running on faster hardware.

User Licensed Software that used MPE User Count restrictions is a different matter, as moving to 7.5 means unlimited user counts. I expect there will be some interesting discussions on this topic.

Whilst with my migration vendor hat on, the "CHARON-HPA/3000" emulator is likely to be disruptive technology as companies reassess their medium/long-term strategies. As we also use and support customers who had no plans to migrate from the HP 3000, it is good to see this solution becoming available.

It's impressive what Stromasys have done. I am looking forward to playing with an HPa3000 in the not-too-distant future.