Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A4000: My ACard 7220UW experience and results

Sadly I don't have many updates as I would love to, because I'm always waiting for some extra parts and stuff to arrive but most important because I have other projects to maintain and not so much time to tinker my lovely Amiga :(

Some time ago reading a thread @ I got again the eager to replace my 7720U (Ultra SCSI - 50pin) ACard with 7720UW (Ultra Wide SCSI - 68pin) version.
This would have been awesome because:
  • It wouldn't need the extra 50pin to 68pin adapter alas more room for airflow
  • It would be able to give better speed due to the Wide SCSI interface!
Since getting an ACard 7720UW isn't an easy task if you reside in Greece (none reseller around) I decided to order one from Vesalia since I had some nice PayPal balance sitting around for quite some time now.

Package arrived yesterday and I was really happy to try it on my A4000 once I got back from work.

The only thing that worried me a bit was the Firmware revision that was printed as in all ACards over the ICC that had version 3.89. Based on ACard's website this revision was released on 27/05/2009 (and was compatible with the new systems like WinXP/Vista/7 etc) while the previous version 3.86 was released on 16/06/2006 (and was compatible by legacy systems like Win95/98/ME/NT etc).
I already knew that latest version of ACards aren't compatible with Amigas and after a recent conversation over a thread @ EAB I knew that 3.85 version was one of the latest that for sure worked with Amigas.

Once I got home, I pulled off the old trusty 7720U ACard and putted the new on maintaining ofc the same SCSI ID and termination jumpers.
Sadly... the Amiga saw the ACard and HD (since HD LED's output from ACard was blinking just fine) but within the booting sequence it stopped :(
Early startup menu, showed that Hard Disks were recognized as partitions though. That's why I booted my CF Backup setup (via the SCSI Multicard Reader) and hard drives appeared. For some reasons I got hard drive errors for my DH0 partition so I tried to reformat it but got "Error 4" in hard drive description.
That wasn't good :(

After some more fails and troubleshooting I was almost convinced that my ACard's revision was screwing me!
I decided to take the situation on my hands so I putted an Adaptec SCSI controller into an old PC of mine with WindowsXP and mounted ACard onto it, downloaded the previous version plus the ACard flash utility and Downgraded the firmware to version 3.86. Flashing was sucesfull so there was only one way to find out if I did it succesfully :)

The ACard was mounted on my A4000 and I also changed the ID to something else just for safety. Hard Drive was discovered but boot partition DH0 with 3.9 was corrupted :(
I decided then to initialize the drive from scratch (booting with CF Backup 3.9 environment) and repartitioning it with new sizes, etc. Thank God the drive initialized just fine without problems! (Phew No.1)
In my previous partitioning scheme I had:
  • 950MB PFS3 for OS3.9 (DH0),
  • 950MB SFS for OS4.1 (DH1),
  • 950MB SFS for MorphOS (DH2)
  • and the rest of the 80GB HD space left unpartitioned for future usage.
Now I made a similar scheme but with 1023MB partitions (I played it safe and under 1024MB=1GB) and all with SFS.
All partitions were defined and save changes didn't give a single error (Phew No.2)

After I booted to 3.9, I cloned my CF partition to my fresh formatted partition and rebooted my Amiga...

YES!!! Hard disk booted just fine and I was in my previous well known custom ClassicWB 3.9 environment with CGX4/AfA OS/Antialiased fonts/Ken's Icons etc!

Since I was so happy I though of checking out my new hard drive speeds via SysSpeed and SysInfo.
Results were more than amazing!!!

Well... compared to my previous screenshot with the ACard 7220U I now got an 10.6MB/s speed increase! (from 18.3MB/s to 28.9MB/s). Not bad at all aye? :D

Also without the need of an 50pin to 68pin adapter, now the space needed is much shorter and gives a nice extra for better airflow :)

Awesome stuff! After this successful try, I installed again OS4.1 and didn't have a single issue! On to MorphOS today but we'll be ok on that as well me thinkz :P

Soon more to come.

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