Digital DEC 2000-300

Sara II, a DEC 2000-300

This is a great computer which I will write more about soon!

It's configuration is as follows:
CPUEV4DECchip 21064
Clock Speed150 MHz-
BUSEISA, SCSI-
Memory32 MB-
DKA0RZ25E426 MB
DKA100RZ26N1.05 GB
DKA400RRD42600 MB
DVA0RX262.88 MB
GraphicsCompaq QvisionSVGA 1024x768

This is a cheap Alpha machine which is built from standard PC components and has only an EISA bus. The more expensive machines had Turbo Channel and later PCI busses. The machine is capable of running Linux, Windows NT, Digital Unix and OpenVMS. When the machine was shiped with Digital Unix (or OSF/1 as it was called at the time) or OpenVMS it was called the DEC 2000 Model 300 instead of DECpc AXP/150 which was the name when Windows NT was bundeled. There should be no hardware difference between them. Mine is acutally labeled DECpc AXP/150.

Unlike most workstations from Digital that has SCSI as standard, this machine does not have it on the motherboard. Instead it uses the Adaptec AHA-1742A EISA based SCSI controller. The controller is slightly modified in its firmware ROMs by Digital, so firmware ROMs capable of supporting e.g. OpenVMS in its later versions can not be found on 1742:s in standard PC computers. It further seems that Adaptec can not provide them, but hey have to be obtained directly from Digital. The ROMs are not (as could be thought) modified to contain Alpha machinecode, but still uses Intel x86 code. Most members of the Alpha line of computers has in their firmware the capability of x86 emulation just in order to handle standard EISA or PCI cards. This is a different approach from other companies such as Sun Microsystems who wants to use the OpenBoot protocol in the communication with PCI cards.

Just like the SCSI controller mentioned above both the graphics card (Compaq Qvision) and the NI (Digital DE-422) is connected via the EISA bus.

This was the first Alpha delivered to support Windows NT. Former Alpha machines that existed at that time either ran OpenVMS or OSF/1 (which was still the official name of Comaq Tru64 UNIX before it was renamed Digital UNIX). Advertisements from the time states this machine to be the worlds fastest PC of its time. Fortunately they did not restrict the machine to running only NT, but it has always supported both OpenVMS and OSF/1. Later for Digital:s NT offerings such as the Multia and the Alpha XL etc. this non NT support has not been as strong, with only limited support for the Multia and no support at all for the XL.

The console ROM memory in the DEC 2000-300 machines is big enough to hold both the SRM and ARC (later renamed AlphaBIOS, I guess after the MIPS version of ARC was dropped by Microsoft) consoles at the same time. Switching between them requires a powercycle though. Dualbooting NT with OpenVMS is not that easy though, since the EISA Configuration Utility (ECU) has to be rerun each time the machine is to be made bootable with the other console. Further NT requires a lot of settings in an endless number of menu choises in the ARC "console". The SRM console is a real, command line based, console which is far much more pleasant to work with, and also supports communication directly over the serial line console port of the machine.