FastVAX -- Well, for QBus Anyway

DEC Model Name VAX 4000/200
DEC Part Number  
CPU Type  KA660
Peripherals  TK70 Tape Drive
 CMD CQD-223 SCSI
Memory  32MB 
    2 x MS650-BA
Disk Capacity  1GB Internal with DSSI Drive. 

"Most compact Q-Bus VAX you can own."


FastVAX -- One of my VAX 4000/200s

FastVAX is a VAX 4000/200. This means that it uses the KA660 CPU. The KA660 module is shown below and, like the VAX 4000/VLC is the "SOC" CPU. There are a couple of cool things about this module that are worth noting.

First the CPU is the fastest CPU module you can put on the Qbus directly. So if you had a MicroVAX II or a MicroVAX 3, or a MicroVAX 3400, 3800, etc. Then without a backplane change you could swap this CPU and fast MS650 memory with your previous CPU and get a big boost in speed. Like the VLC this CPU is rated at 5 VUPs but it has very little on board cache. 

The other interesting thing about this CPU is that it takes the on-board DSSI bus and routes it to the 'CD' connectors on the lower left of the board. Thus when plugged into the BA440 cabinet with the Qbus backplane it is automagically hooked up to the DSSI drives that are also installed in that backplane. This feature really confused me when I first encountered it because I bought a BA440 that was missing the CPU. That chassis had a board plugged into the far right slot a "paddle" board that connected to the DSSI bus. It seemed like there should be a cable that connected the DSSI plug on the CPU to that board but I couldn't find it anywhere. Finally after talking to someone who had a working 4000/200 in the BA440 they said, "It just works, there is no cable." and sure enough it does.

FastVAX is currently sharing a role like TestVAX in that I've been using it to test some stuff with NetBSD. The KA660 also has a pretty nice on board monitor ROM so you can test Qbus cards with it fairly easily. Until I got FunVAX this was a common use for this machine. 

Inside the Box

Inside the BA215 the layout is similar to the BA213 with the exceptions that there are half the Qbus slots (6 instead of 12) only one power supply and space for only 1 additional full height DSSI drive (or two half height drives)

Unlike the BA213 the BA215 uses a regular power cord so you don't have to hunt far and wide for one and it takes up less room. What is unclear is how to remove the roller feet. 

I get the impression that a large number of MicroVAX 3300's were converted into 4000/200s as that was nearly a doubling of their performance. The next step would be to move to a desktop VAX or a BA440 if you still needed the Qbus slots. Of course SCSI interfaces are not standard in these boxes so if you are comparing this one to yours the slots to the left of the CPU will no doubt be different. 

Currently this VAX is running VMS 6.2.

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