I am taking over. Resistance is futile. Please do NOT assume
I sat down and typed up my vast experience in one day. I have a fair degree
of familiarity with the 85 / 90 / 95 / 95A series of servers, but this
in no way implies that I know it all.
The previous guardians of the Holy Grail were Lewis Getschel (original creator), then revised by Carl Benker (email@example.com) and Gerry Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org), with a further updating by David Smudski ( PC Helpcenter) and Jeff Holleman (PCCBBS). I'd like to thank Chris Feeny (email@example.com) for the ressurection of the PS/2 FAQ.
If you think the PS/2 was odd or rare, think again. The PS/2 experience covered a mere ten or so years. In Tom Watson's IBM, they sold 17,000,000 machines, 13,000,000 of them Micro Channel. The PS/2 division was IBM's biggest money maker for three years running in the early 90s, and IBM said then that PS/2 was the most popular model of computer in the world. (Thanks, Joe!)
Many people do not understand the reason for a PS/2. IBM
built them to run 24/7. They sold reliability. Those annoying extensive
self tests and the cryptic error codes all support that goal. Why power
up a server if the POST misses a (at the time) non-fatal error that a few
hours later brings down a major corporation's network?
Finally, the PS/2 FAQ is released as HTML. What a bug hunt... Please send all derision, comments, and snide comments to me and: I will do my best to ignore it.
This FAQ is for the PS/2's and most other MCA machines. There may be some information that is inaccurate for non-IBM machines and this information should be gathered from the appropriate manufacturer. If there are deficiencies, errors, and/or missing information you would like to see email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q) 1.2 What are the
different PS/2s and their features?
The -xxx suffix can usually be broken down to -ABC where,
A=number of hard drives usually, if A, B, or E rules below don't apply
Fourth letter is county/language identifier, F=Canadian French
All 85xx models are XGA or VGA, 95xx models are XGA-2 or SVGA.
LS models are usually identical to the SX counterparts but are diskless.
Model 90/95 special info follows below:
Stumbled across a reference document with a good overall description of the four different complex types and their capabilities. Some errata seemed to have snuck in- the DMA speed goes from 20 to 25MHz then back again to 20MHz..
Original compiled by Roger Dodson, IBM. May 1996
The IBM Model 90, and Model 95, and PC Server 500 are unique in providing
a Processor Complex (adapter) that integrates the (1) processor, (2) memory
cache controller and L2 cache, (3) memory controller, (4) DMA controller,
and (5) I/O bus controller. This provides the capability to upgrade to
new technology by only replacing the Processor Complex.
o Complexes are interchangeable among Model 90's, Model 95's, and PC Server 500.
* Any existing Model 90, Model 95, or PC Server 500 can be upgraded
to a new Processor Complex. For example, Base 1 to Base 2 or Base 3 or
Base 4; Base 2 to Base 4, etc.
Type 1 "G"
486SX 20 MHz (ann Oct 1990) 92F0049
Upgrade 486DX 50 MHz
(ann Jun 1991) 92F0048
Type 2 "H" / Upgrade
486SX 25 MHz (ann Oct 1991) 92F0079
Type 3 "M"/ Upgrade 486DX-50 MHz (ann April 1992) 57F1579
* 40 MB per second streaming data transfer support. This is an advanced
Micro Channel I/O controller that provides faster data transfer rates to
Type 4 "N" / Upgrade 486DX2 66/33 MHz
(ann Sept 1993) 61G2343 $772.00!
Although a Type 4 will work in all downlevel systems (8590/8595/9590/9595) trying to run a Type 1 through a Type 3 complex on a 95A planar will fail with a 174 error. The complex and planar will be OK, it just wont do anything.
* SynchroStream(TM)controller (Not on DX2-66 complexes!)
SynchroStream(TM)controller which uses IBM's most advanced technology
packaging to integrate 5 major chips (memory, I/O, DMA controllers, FIFO
buffers, ECC logic) into one chip. This technology allows the high-speed
interconnects and large streaming pipes that form the SynchroStream engine
to provide state-of-the-art performance. The SynchroSteam controller
Error Checking and Correcting (ECC) memory controller which will automatically correct any single bit errors on the fly (98% of memory errors are single bit); all 2 bit errors are found which halt system; some 3 and 4 bit errors are found which halt system; single bit errors are logged with optional software (NetFinity?) and multiple bit errors are logged in NVRAM.
Subsystem Control Block provides for the enhanced transfer of command, data, and status information between busmasters (and between busmasters and the system processor) to give increased performance. Capabilities such as command chaining, data chaining, and block data moves frees the processor from waiting for command completion before issuing the next command and frees the processor for other tasks while a busmaster operates in parallel. Adapters and device drivers must support this feature (many do today).
Synchronous Channel Check support provides for the signaling of errors synchronously with the transfer in progress. Adapters and device drivers must be designed to support this feature (none do today).
Data bus parity support provides for the verification of correct data as it is transferred between the processor and memory and over the Micro Channel. All data moved between individual components on the Processor Complex use this feature (processor, memory controller DMA, Micro Channel controller). IBM's Token-Ring LANStreamer MC 32, Auto LANStreamer MC 32, Dual LANStreamer MC 32, EtherStreamer MC 32, Dual EtherStreamer MC 32, SCSI-2 Fast/Wide Adapter/A, SCSI-2 RAID Controller, SCSI-2 RAID Adapter/A, and TURBOWAYS 100 ATM Adapter support this feature.
Enhanced dual path memory design (Dual Bus Interleave). Although Base 1 allows both the processor and busmasters to access memory concurrently through two paths, the Base 3 and 4 has buffers at both paths to provide better performance. Also the buffer on the adapter side (I/O buffer) uses packet data transfers for writes. This means 16 bytes are collected and this packet is written in one cycle to memory as opposed to writing for every 4 bytes received (as with unbuffered systems).
Enhanced Vital Product Data support. Allows software (LAN Network Manager, LAN Mgmt Utilities/2) to obtain a unique serial number (identifier) on the processor complex which is in ROM (like Base 3). Also provides unique ID (model/submodel), type/model/ serial number, manufacturing ID, planar FRU number, and planar part number.
IBM 32 bit MCA busmasters that support 40 MB/sec
These are usually denoted with a /A suffix. Here is a list of what is current.
See Appendix A for full list.
Reference Disks can be downloaded from two IBM sources, via ftp to ftp.pc.ibm.com or by dialing the IBM PC Co. BBS at 1-919-517-0001.
http://members.tripod.com/~ps2page/ps2files.htm links to the reference, diagnostics, and starter disks.
After the files are obtained:
For .EXE files:
Do NOT use "DIR" under W95 to look at the newly created reference disk. This overwrites the special bytes needed to access the system partition. I have created MANY refisks with NT and W95 using Win Exploiter, er, Explorer. They all worked. You can look at them with File Eplorer all day long. Just do NOT go to MS-DOS mode and do a "DIR".
For .DSK files:
For .TG0 files:
Also check http://www3.ncr.com/support/pc/pcdesc/library/adfs.shtml
Also QBMCA on Wendt's page can tell you what ADF you need.
NCR is HERE
See Appendix B.
The Reference Disk is your access to the internals of the PS/2, much
like accessing CMOS on other computers. From the Reference Disk you
can add options, change the time and date, set up a configuration, check
SCSI device, change the settings of the options you added and test your
system for problems. Once you have the Reference Disk running go
to the Main Menu and
This little known command allows one to test the system one test at
a time. This is useful if the system hangs or gets an error early in the
full-test. To access the Advanced Diagnostics press <CTRL>-A from the
Reference Disk Main Menu and it will allow you to select which test to
perform after verifying the present configuration. Also these are
more through tests and also offer hard drive formatting options and some
wrap plug port tests (see Q6.6 for details).
You can by selecting the option to backup the Reference Disk from the
Reference Disk Main Menu. The files are written in a special way
to the diskand only the Reference Disk and LOADDSKF can create new/backup
Reference Disks unless a total disk copy program is used to copy the hidden
files, DISKCOPY works.
Option Diskettes are the .ADF files that allow the PS/2 to communicate properly with installed options and the 165 error code is also saying that the proper .ADF file was not used to configure the system. The BBS and ftp.pc.ibm.com both have all the IBM option diskettes and some common third party ones. A file index of all the files on the ftp site can be obtained by getting the FILES.TXT file which has 100k of disk name and descriptions of every disk IBM included with option, computers, and devices as well as some third party software. When you get the right one go to Copy an Option Diskette in the Reference Disk Main Menu and it should do the work for you. Now just configure the system and you should be set.
Nothing usually. Sometimes the Reference Disk can not copy the proper files, so look in the manual for the device and see what file(s) must be copied manually over to the Reference Disk. As always use a backup copy of the Ref Disk.
You must use "Copy an Option Diskette" under Setup to correctly copy
a new or updated ADF to the Reference Disk or to the System Partition.
IBM. The 800-772-2227 (1-800-PS2-2227) is open 24 hours a day
for warrantied systems; however; there is no PS/2 models still under warranty
so you will have to use the 1-900-555-2582 number. They bill at $1.99
per minute the last time I called (10/27/98). Usually the staff is
dead accurate and only rarely is misinformation handed out. However,
the chances of misinformation is greatly increased when calling during
non-standard EST business hours as I
It seems lately I have been getting emails for people who have called
the 900 number, but could not get there questions answered. This
is not to fault IBM, it simply is not practical to train your people on
every machine released, but do I get to collect the 900 charges you the
questions I answer? :).
Well if they didn't connect you to the premium support section ask to be connected there. The Premium (I think that is what they call it) support techs are usually a lot more adept at in-depth tech help, but sometimes the normal tech does not connect you to them when you have a more advanced problem so ask for them if you feel the person helping you is lost (usually symbolized by a lot of being put on hold 'while I find out the answer' type responses). Also it is a good idea to always call back later to double check on things that you are not totally comfortable with the given answer. Since these calls are no longer free it may not be practical to call back. Also I am not sure the still have normal and Premium support since the phone support has changed to the 900 number system, but of course, you can always email me.
9595 The Ardent Tool of Capitalism
This is a big problem with IBM cards. Most card manufacturers get label crazy silk-screening their name and the card's name all over the card's breadboard,yet IBM being the marketing giant doesn't need the extra production step and goes with bare breadboards.
The first thing to do is to ground yourself (by touching the power supply
of a turned OFF computer is a good way) and try to set the card on an anti-static
bag or surface and try not to move around to much because one static charge
to a key area and it won't matter what the card is for. Then try
and find out what IBM part numbers (IBMPN) and FRU (Field Replacement Unit)(IBMFRU)
are listed on the front and back of the card. Contrary to popular
Also the FCC# could be used as it almost never changes and is unique for each card. The FCC website is www.fcc.gov/oet/fccid. Lately these have proven excellent resorts though sometimes the descriptions given are vague you at least will know the manufacturer and purpose of the card.
Another method though I believe you need to have it installed and configured is a program on PC-DOS 6.3 which takes the 'electronic name' (POSID, a four digit number) of the MCA card and gives the description.
And of course, QBMCA .
Another utility that reports on the POSID from MS-DOS is Snooper