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Solid-State Disks and Pegasos?
Posted by: on Saturday, November 06, 2004 - 21:59
Submitted by ironfist
Have you ever heard of Solid-State Disks or SSD? It is basically a read- and writable harddisk with no moving parts. Compact Flash and other multimedia cards are cheap - and less durable - forms of SSD. The more expensive ones costs up to several thousand Euros.

I tried an M-Systems 256 MB iDOC (Disk-on-Chip) with my Pegasos II G4..

Click 'Read more'
My 256 MB iDOC

This SSD is a Disc-on-Chip and is cheaper than the thousand-buck-per-GB Flash Drives. I bought it directly from USA and had to pay gigantic FedEx delivery costs aswell Swedish customs - but it was worth it! :)

Still these DOC's are very reliable for thin clients and network appliances. I couldn't find any Power-on MTBF but the competitors say between 300.000 and 500.000 hours, which equals to about 30-50 years. Just like cheaper Compact Flashs they wear out after some disk writes. Compact Flashes usually last 10.000-100.000 writes and these DOC's around 2 million - according to the specs.


Why did I try this?
Well, I have always been a fan of Solid-state solutions aswell Thin clients. I wanted to see if the Pegasos really can be ran as a real thin client (not just some remote TFTP-booting machine) with its own Mini-OS to logon to a Windows Terminal Server or such.


What did I do?
First I plugged the iDOC directly into the Seconday IDE as master. I booted up my MorphOS and started up SCSIConfig. To my joy I could see it there as Unit 2 running on ide.device.

SCSI Config #1

I partitioned the drive and named it SSD0 aswell choosing FFS. I chose FFS over SFS to be sure I could read it from Open Firmware.

SCSI Config #2

I rebooted upon demand from SCSI Config and formatted the drive just like any harddrive. I encountered no problems at all. The iDOC was formatted in 10-15 seconds or so.

Format

After the format the iDOC showed up just like any device on Ambient Desktop. I could read and write to it without any problems. It is kind of slow. The specs say about 1.5 MB/s max for writes and about 5 MB/s for read. I tried copying a 19 MB file and I didn't get any 1.5 MB/s. I didn't clock it but it felt like somewhere between 30 seconds to 1 minute. It was faster than onboard USB from a Smart media card at lleast. I also copied the MorphOS CD aswell the boot images.

Ambient screenshot with SSD0:


Open Firmware
Now over to the real trials. MorphOS had no problems at all reading this drive. I pressed the reset button.

I held down ESC to stop the auto-boot and then I type ls /ide. I saw three units!
disk@0,0
cdrom@0,1
disk@1,0 <-- iDOC

In true Elftor-spirit I shouted Hooray!
I contiued..
ls /ide/disk@1,0 and what did I see? I saw 4 partitions where the first one was Fat32 and the rest were marked Unused. What the..?

ls /ide/disk@1,0:0 only returned an empty drive. Nowhere could I find the FFS-disk with MorphOS and the boot-images.

A few weeks ago I tried my Simpletech 800 MB 2.5" IDE Flash Drive I bought off eBay with my Pegasos 1 G3 and exactly the same thing was returned when I tried listing the drive. I came to the conclusion that Pegasos OF does not support SSD at the moment. Too bad. SSD are supposed to act just like any other IDE HDD and should work in any IDE controller - but this is clearly not the case. My 800MB Flash Drive never worked in MorphOS for instance.

iDOC plugged into IDE connector


Final words
Pegasos Open Firmware does not support SSD (at least not the two I have tried - M-Sytems iDisk-on-Chip and SimpleTech 800 MB IDE Flash Drive) which is a set-back. Perhaps other drives work? Hopefully Gerald and Thomas will read this article and give us an update. :)

MorphOS supported the iDOC without any problems but my Flash Drive was not supported. Once the OF supports them fully we can build our own thin clients and connect them to our Windows Terminal Servers or ICA Citrix. I am sure this is a simple update for our bPlan engineers..

---
Kristian E, Pegasos.org.

Pegasos
Solid-State Disks and Pegasos? | Log-in or register a new user account | 10 Comments
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They do not necessarily represent the opinions of the site editor.

Re: Solid-State Disks and Pegasos?

(Score: 1, Insightful)
by gunne on Nov 06, 2004 - 22:26
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Hey Kristian.

Very nice article, thank you !

I have some questions for you also :-)

Whats happening if you delete all partitions on the drive from within MorphOS ? Will you still see four partitions in Smart Firmware ?

Whats happening if you create and format a FAT 32 partition from MorphOS and then copy some data onto that ?

Can you then see this files from Smart Firmware ?

Whats happening if you try to clear the MBR with HDMBRClear for instance ?

I dont want to cause any trouble for you. So perhaps the best is, if you want to experiment further, to disconnect you ordinary drive, and boot from cd, so you dont run the risk of any data loss or anything similar on the ordinary drive because of some simple mistake.

Gunne

Re: Solid-State Disks and Pegasos?

(Score: 1)
by Trizt on Nov 07, 2004 - 08:35
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The only disadvantige I see is that the sizes are quite small yet and I guess the prices for a new one is quite big too... how about lifespan for a SSD compared HDD?

Re: Solid-State Disks and Pegasos?

(Score: 1, Informative)
by Anonymous on Nov 07, 2004 - 09:30
if you only see fat partitions, than the OF find a mbr ... how gune said, delete the mbr from this iDOC ... but i think clearmbr will not work, so try the following

---
Probably the hard drive you're using was once in a PC and has a MBR (Master Boot Record) which causes this error message to appear. To solve this problem you should make use of the program "HDWrite", which may be found in the "SYS:Tools/debug" directory. If your using MorphOS v1.4 or later versions it's in "MorphOSBoot:morphos/c". All you need is a file wich is between 512 and 1024 Bytes in size. The program file "reboot" in "Mossys:c/" with about 800 Bytes is just perfect for our purpose. Type "HDwrite ide.device <unit> MOSSYS:c/reboot 0" in the Shell but replace <unit> with the unit number of of your hard drive.
---

for your case it should be
HDwrite ide.device 3 MOSSYS:c/reboot 0

cu the antibike

Re: Solid-State Disks and Pegasos?

(Score: 2, Funny)
by bbrv on Nov 07, 2004 - 22:41
(User information  | Send a message http://www.genesi.lu)
Nice article Kristian. It is because of good material like this that Pegasos.org is getting more visitors. Good work! :-) Go PUGS!

R&B ;-)

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