Subject: Re: Source for AlphaPC 164SX?
To: None <port-alpha@NetBSD.ORG>
From: Greg A. Woods <>
List: port-alpha
Date: 04/23/1998 21:29:51
[ On Thu, April 23, 1998 at 19:56:40 (-0400), Thor Lancelot Simon wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: Source for AlphaPC 164SX?
> Be *very careful* to ensure that any AlphaPC64 machines you buy either
> already have SRM on them or can be returned.  There seems to be some
> kind of bug in the flash writer utility that occasionally *completely
> erases* the flash part, leaving no way to return the machine to a
> useful state without converting the entire SRM image to S-records and
> uploading it via the SROM debugger, using a special serial cable
> (which I don't have.)

I don't know how similar the 64's are to the UDB, but with the latter
there's a "fail safe load" jumper (presumably it uses SROM code) that'll
boot a floppy even if the Flash-ROM is completely erased.

Indeed the process of installing a new SRM on the UDB starts out by
completely erasing the Flash-ROM, so if you interrupt it, or it dies for
some reason, in the middle of the upgrade you must open the machine up,
remove the floppy and hard drive, and move the FLS jumper, boot with the
special Fail-safe boot floppy (and if I remember right it then asks you
for the update floppy), then put it all back together and start over,
then undo the change once you've successfully re-"burned" the flash.

One of my mostly dead Multias will still get thorugh the FSL boot, and
sometimes even part way through the re-burn, but inevitably it dies.
I'm hoping that replacing the parts mentioned will
resurrect at least that one, if not also the one that won't even FSL any

BTW, those "special" serial cables are available through almost all of
those mail-order places like Black Box, Innmac, Misco, etc.

> The firmware is available as part of the "EBSDK", the Evaluation Board
> Software Development Kit which cost $100 when I ordered mine from DEC.

I saw a note somewhere on digital's site that the motherboard SDK would
be available for the 164LX in the fall (but maybe they meant fall of
1997!).  It would be nice if that was still the price, and was a legit
way to acquire the SRM firmware.  There's probably other nifty stuff in
the kit too!

Of course AlphaBIOS support in NetBSD would be the ultimate answer to
this red-tape nightmare.

							Greg A. Woods

+1 416 443-1734      VE3TCP      <>      <robohack!woods>
Planix, Inc. <>; Secrets of the Weird <>