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Switching Over to New System

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Ian Miller.
Honored Contributor

Re: Switching Over to New System

Allan - sounds to me like a bug exposed by the change of timing on Alpha VMS but too little info to tell.

James - you will get faster performance on an emulated VAX. However if the system is to last for years then investing now to bring the system up to date with current VMS and current hardware (Itanium) would be worth it.
Purely Personal Opinion
James LaRue

Re: Switching Over to New System

Do you think the Itanium would be a better investment than the Alpha's for the long run. My understanding is that the Alpha is still a better processor. But that is slowly changing.

The wave of the future...
James LaRue

Re: Switching Over to New System

Oh they are 3100 M76...i am sorry for the confusion.
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: Switching Over to New System

I can predict the past much better than I can
the future, so I can't say whether you should
aim for Alpha or Itanium. No new Alpha chips
or systems are being designed, so the future
for Itanium looks brighter. I buy only old
junk, and there is not much Itanium hardware
in that category yet, but people who should
know claim that a new Itanium box is cheaper
and faster than a comparable new Alpha box.

In general, the software effort in moving to
either should be almost exactly the same, as
the VMS code base for Alpha and Itanium is
shared. unlike the VAX code. Accordingly,
unless you have some exotic hardware, or you
use some software product which is not
available on one system type, a move from
Alpha to Itanium (or the other way) should be
remarkably painless. (Even more so, if you
keep the possibility in mind when you move
from VAX to either one.)

A VAXstation 3100 model 76 is a step up from
my VAXsta 3100 model 38, but it's pretty old
and slow. I'd expect just about any Alpha
made in the past ten years (along with a
bunch of newer VAXstation 4000 systems) to
whip its little silicon butt. Ignoring the
software license question, for well under
$1000 you could get on Ebay a 1999-vintage
Compaq Professional Workstation XP1000 system
which might amaze you with its relative
perkiness (10-20X CPU speed, I'd guess, with
newer-faster SCSI disks, better graphics, and
so on).

For many applications, VMS is not
intrinsically slow, but it does run on
hardware which (1) often cost a small fortune
when it was new, which (2) tended to run
nearly forever, and which (3), therefore,
tended to remain in use until it appears
relatively slow (fifteen years later).

Do you have a budget, or is this project
still in the info-gathering stage?
James LaRue

Re: Switching Over to New System

Umm..budget...no not yet. I am only gathering alternatives to what they are suggesting now, which by the way suck.

If I can come up with an easy way and also cheaper way of doing this then it would be a good and viable option. At that point I will get much kudos. So really this is just a mad props project.
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: Switching Over to New System

Not knowing enough about your current
situation to be confident about anything,
it's probably reasonable to use a TestDrive
system to investigate the portability of your
application software.

Before long, you'll need to compile a real
hardware inventory, with some kind of
description of who uses what why, as
otherwise it's tough to make even a plausible
guess about what sort of replacement hardware
would make sense.

Eventually, you'd need to determine the
hardware and software product requirements
for replacement systems, and then find a
vendor who can assemble a kit. Depending on
the circumstances, the software license costs
could completely overwhelm the hardware
costs. Everything's complicated.
Ian Miller.
Honored Contributor

Re: Switching Over to New System

software licence costs and cost of new hardware for Itanium systems is much cheaper than alpha vms systems. e.g last time I looked - UK list price (no discount) of a rx1600 is £1500 plus £700 for VMS license (1 cpu FOE includes unlimited user, tcp etc etc).
Total £2200 for a decent VMS small system.

Of course you can get cheap alphaserver hardware but licence costs are high.
Purely Personal Opinion
Robert Gezelter
Honored Contributor

Re: Switching Over to New System


As a start, I would check out the possibility of using the double translation (VAX->Alpha; Alpha->IA64) as a starting point.

If things work correctly using the translated images (and they should), if nothing else you have a shell of a working system. You can iteratively replace the translated images with compiled native images, as the problems are worked out (the problems will likely be source language tweeks, the IA64 compilers are all current language levels, the VAX versions from the date you mentioned are older).

One of the nice things about this approach is that it is phased on a single machine environment. You can also cluster VAX and IA64 nodes in the same cluster.

As background, you may want to check out my presentation on IA64 porting (most recently given last May in Edmonton, see http://www.rlgsc.com/encompass-canada/edmonton/2005-05/OpenVMSonIntegrity.html )

- Bob Gezelter, http://www.rlgsc.com
James LaRue

Re: Switching Over to New System

I found out today that our software was written in FORTRAN.

It is a little more complicated...cause we have vax systems everywhere that control all kinds of electronic bit synchs and electronic test equipment and all kinds of stuff...we even have it setup with a matrix that downloads all the images from the satellites onto a 2 terabyte RAID that sends data over a T1 connection to another site. Its a little more complicated than what I can explain in a couple paragraphs on the internet.

But basically what I would like to do is run the main software which acts like a controller and the workstations act like operators that log into the controller.

So with that in mind...this is a lot more complicated than I probably gave off. But i feel confident that if the software is capable of being emulated on the newer system then all would be fine.
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: Switching Over to New System

Fortran (formerly FORTRAN) compilers, disk
storage, and Ethernet interfaces are pretty
generally available on any modern VMS system,
including the TestDrive systems (although
you'd need to talk to someone if you really
needed that much disk space for a test, and
those systems normally have some network
restrictions, too).

VMS also has X windows, so it's not
immediately obvious why you'd need real VMS
workstations (like the VAXsta 3100-76
systems) just to display anything, but,
again, new stuff should be able to replace
the old stuff in that niche, too.

I'd still say it's worth taking the
software for a spin on a TestDrive system.