Subject: 2nd Announcement: cheap fast Alpha PC164 boards available
To: None <,,>
From: Thor Lancelot Simon <>
List: port-alpha
Date: 04/15/1999 02:15:37
(This is being sent to slightly different lists than the first message
 I sent on the subject.)

I've arranged to make a bulk purchase of Digital AlphaPC164 motherboards,
with 500MHz processors.  I can make these available to NetBSD users or
developers at a price somewhere between $175 and $200 each, plus shipping.

I've announced this before, but there's been some confusion and I have some
further details:

	* The boards have 1MB cache, and use a 21164A (NOT a 21164PC)
	  processor -- a 500Mhz 21164A is included.

	* You can use a standard ATX case, but you'll need a special
	  power supply.  The board uses ATX power connectors, but doesn't
	  do the ATX "soft power" magic, so you need a "hard switched"
	  ATX power supply.  One such supply is the Quantum Power Labs
	  AP2-5300F (DO NOT get the AP2-5300-RV).  Quantum's phone number
	  is (915) 519-2688.  The supply should run you $70-$100 (I haven't
	  bought one recently).  I *am not* selling the supplies.  You
	  can probably build a widget easily enough to use a standard ATX
	  power supply, but I haven't done it.  I will, in fact, be able
	  to test this soon.

	* You'll need 4 or 8 pieces of 36-bit 72-pin SIMM memory.
	  All SIMMs must be the same.  Performance will be better
	  with 8 SIMMs (probably a bit better than the 164LX boards
	  on code that doesn't fit in cache) because the machine will
	  run with a 256-bit memory bus.  Appropriate memory is available
	  from The Chip Merchant, among plenty of other places:
	  Chip Merchant part numbers 10310 and 10350 will almost certainly
	  work, the #10355 64MB parts will probably work but the boards
	  are reputedly somewhat picky about which 64MB SIMMs they'll
	  work with, so caveat emptor.

	* The final price *I* get from the vendor will be dependent on the
	  exact number of boards I buy.  I do not know it yet, but I fully
	  expect to be able to sell the boards, with CPU, for $175-$200 each,
	  with $25 from each board donated to The NetBSD Foundation.

	* The boards and CPUs are new, in Digital Semiconductor packaging.

	* I am not a computer wholesaler, retailer, reseller, or distributor.
	  All I'm doing here is helping arrange a group purchase, to put
	  as many of these boards as I can in the hands of NetBSD'ers.
	  I do not expect to make any money selling these boards -- I'm
	  basically doing it as a service to the NetBSD community and it's
	  actually eating a lot of my time and will probably cost me money.

	* I have to pay cash for these boards, and it looks like there will
	  be a *lot* of them.  I am going to want payment -- though it
	  doesn't need to be cash -- in advance, because I don't have
	  several thousand dollars (or tens of thousands!) lying around
	  as pocket change.  If you don't trust me (what can I say?  I
	  think I'm pretty trustworthy) I'm afraid you lose -- I just can't
	  swing the deal otherwise.

	* I will replace DOA boards, but aside from that there's NO WARRANTY
	  and NO GUARANTEE.  The boards are in sealed packaging, and I'm
	  familiar with the failure rates -- I suggest taking ALL PROPER
	  ESD PRECAUTIONS, because if I get too many "DOA" returns I'm going
	  to have to assume people are blowing them up with static and stop
	  replacing "DOA" boards that weren't before I run out of replacement

	* More information on these boards, and NetBSD on them, is available
	  at  These are
	  "EB164-family systems".

These things run NetBSD great.  With the right revision of the SRM console
they *will* boot and run from an IDE disk, or you can use an NCR (Symbios)
or Qlogic SCSI adapter; you can also boot from IDE or NCR/Qlogic and run
from any other PCI SCSI adapter NetBSD supports.  They're some of the fastest
machines NetBSD runs on, period, and probably the most stable machines the 
Alpha port runs on.

One was an office fileserver, development box, *and* firewall at a previous
employer of mine (and is now a NetBSD project machine) and was rock-solid
and much faster than the PPro-200 it replaced.  I like these machines.
A lot.  I'd like to see more of them in the hands of the NetBSD community.
If you're looking for a NetBSD/alpha box, one of these is about as cheap as
you'll find, very fast, and probably a good choice.

I have to give the vendor a final quantity by Monday.  It's possible that I
may not be able to get enough boards (either because I can't get enough cash
or good enough terms, or because the vendor Just Hasn't Got Enough) to fill
all orders -- so if you send me email by Friday with how many you want, I'll
send you email back early in the week with how many I can give you, a price,
what shipping to your location will cost (yes, I can ship international;
easiest if you collect several orders and let me ship to one person per
city or region) and where to send payment.  If somehow after that I can't get
you enough boards, I'll give you your money back.  It'll take a few weeks to
get the money, get the boards, and ship them all out.

(note to FreeBSD people reading this: I think I've already separately
 addressed all the new stuff in here on your list, which is why I'm not
 carboning this there; also, many NetBSD folks have been patiently waiting
 for more info after responding to my initial email.)

Thor Lancelot Simon	                            
	"And where do all these highways go, now that we are free?"