Mar 132012
 

I’ve been exploring drive replacement options for the various machines that I have and which might need drive replacements, and I’m finding a surprisingly small amount of information about exactly what all of the drive options really are. This is a much more complex task than I’d originally given it credit for, there are a lot of different drive interfaces. It’s more than just 2.5″ vs. 3.5″, IDE, SCSI, SATA. Many of the spec sheets I’ve been coming across are not sufficiently verbose about the type of drives the machines take, just the sizes they shipped with. So, let me try to collect my thoughts on this in a way more organized than I undertook in my previous rambling. (This is particularly true of the Mac machines, the Apples II I think I basically grasp.) Warning, however: This is not likely to be very interesting to anyone but me.

The iMac Service Source manual for the iMac G3s indicates shipping hard disks of the EIDE type from 7–30GB. My impression, given the casualness with which information is supplied, is that anything with a PATA physically compatible interface is pretty much backwards compatible, so that I can use a newer, fancier PATA drive even if the machine that’s talking to it doesn’t know how to use its features. Also, I learned from the PATA article that the Compact Flash interface is really just yet another PATA type (with a different physical connector), so that explains why IDE-CF adapters are so cheap.

For drive sizes under, or possibly at, 32GB, an IDE-CF solution as replacement makes some economic sense, but for larger drive sizes, the cost of the CF cards starts getting pretty steep. Although I could in principle hit or near the 128GB maximum addressable size for G3 iMacs, graphite PowerMac G4s, and the G4 Cube by getting a 128GB CF card (currently $898 at newegg.com) or an OWC Mercury Pro Legacy SSD (currently $220), I am not composed of cash. The SSD option is fast enough that it might merit some consideration, but it’s still a lot. A spinning IDE drive is over three times cheaper, e.g. OWC’s 120GB drive (currently $68).

There’s a kind of a conundrum in deciding what to put in the vintage Macs, because although they often shipped with smallish drives, when has that ever been enough? Granted, there is a big usage difference between the times when each of these was serving as my primary computing platform, and now, when they’re likely to be fairly specialized in what they’re being asked to do. But do I focus on replacing the hard drive at its shipping size, or max them out?

The SCSI interface of the still-older Macs is more problematic. Since I still think getting actual vintage drives as a replacement is not a smart move, a SCSI-IDE or SCSI-SATA adapter is probably a better option. Also, the size limits on these drives is smaller; in many cases (where I’m running pre-System 7.5), I can’t get beyond 2GB anyway, which makes a CF solution attractive. Something like PCD-50B with a CF-to-PCMCIA adapter (required because booting is constrained to the PCMCIA slot) looks like a pretty good option, even if it’s kind of overkill, since it’s (at $67 currently) about the cheapest way to get from SCSI to CF. Though it is not universally trouble-free. The PCD-50B setup is about half the price of the CF AztecMonster (page in Japanese, though he sells them via artmix on ebay as well). I bought one of the CF AztecMonsters, but shipping estimates suggest it will be a while before I see it. But SCSI-IDE for an actual drive seems like a dead-end road, since nobody is going to be making new 2GB drives.

[update: I came across some notes on Rob Brauns's page that might be useful: Experiments in IDE-CF adapters, Experiments with R-IDSC-E SCSI to IDE converter (Oct 2009), and SE/30 Storage Benchmarks (Jan 2010). A few other interesting things there, including a writeup of Remote Booting a IIgs (Oct 2009) which can be seen in action on Brian Picchi's video demo.]

For my own reference, here is a list of the machines, shipping size, and interface, that I have a chance of trying to replace the hard drives in.

Machine
Year
Interface
shipped size
OS shipped
OS max
Max under shipped OS
(Max under max OS)
Notes/
Plans
SE/30

1989
SCSI
80MB
6.0.3

7.5.5
2GB

4GB
SCSI-CF? System 6, A/UX, NetBSD?
Mac LC II

1992
SCSI
80MB
7.0.1

7.5.5[1]

7.6.1
2GB

4GB
IIe card,
System 7.5.5
Performa 6116CD

1995
SCSI
700MB
7.5.1

9.0
2GB

4GB
AppleTalk/Ethernet bridge?
Mac OS 7.5.5?
Agonizingly slow
Duo 2300c

1995
2.5″ IDE
750MB
7.5.2

9.1
4GB[2] 2.5″ CF-IDE 2GB replace.
Mac OS 8.6
PowerMac 7500/100

1995
SCSI
500MB
7.5.1

9.0
2GB

2TB
Mac OS 8.6?
Use unclear
PowerMac 8600/200

1997
SCSI
2GB
7.5.5

9.0
2TB Mac OS 8.6?
PC Compatibility card. Upgrade HDD? Mac OS 8.6?
PowerMac G3 Beige

1997–1998
SCSI & IDE
4-6GB
8.0

10.2.8
2TB SCSI
128GB IDE
PM G3/233.
Mac OS 8.6 or 9.2.2.
IDE-CF seems to be an option.
Replace the personality card with a Wings card? (Then what? Use the PMG3 as an external monitor for an Apple II?)
Use unclear.
Bondi iMac

1998
IDE
4GB
8.1, 8.5

10.3.9
128GB Not sure whether rev A or B.
IDE-CF realistic.
iBook SE

2000
2.5 EIDE
6GB
8.6

10.3.9
128GB Airport capable. IDE-CF realistic. Mac OS 9.2.2?
iMac DV, DV/SE

1999–2001
EIDE
13–60GB
8.6 or 9.1

10.4.11
128GB Not sure on models. IDE-CF realistic. Airport with adapter.
Ruby iMac
2000
EIDE
10GB
9.0.4

10.4.11
128GB IDE-CF realistic. Airport with adapter.
G4 Cube

2000
EIDE
20–30GB
9.0.4 or 9.1

10.4.11
128GB Unsure of model. Airport capable. Mac OS 9.2.2. IDE-CF realistic.
PowerMac G4 Graphite

1999–2000
EIDE
10-40GB
8.6 or 9.0.4

10.4.11
128GB unsure of models. Maybe Airport capable.
iMac G4

2002–2003
EIDE
60GB
9.2.2 and 10.1.2, 10.2.3

10.5.8
128GB Airport capable. IDE-SATA maybe.
PowerMac G4 MDD

2003
EIDE
80GB
9.2.2

10.5.8
2GB

128GB
Not completely sure of model. Airport capable. IDE-SATA maybe. 10.5.8 if DP.
eMac

2002-2005
EIDE
40–160GB
9.2.2, 10.1.4 or 10.2.5 or 10.3.3 or 10.4

10.4.11 or 10.5.8
big One is 1.25GHz/512MB, unsure of other model. Airport capable (1.25GHz requires Extreme). IDE-SATA maybe. 10.4.11 probably.
iMac G5

2005
SATA
250GB
10.4

10.5.8
big 75% sure of the model. Modern HDD.

[1] I will use the LC II at no higher than system 7.5.5 so that the Apple IIe card will function.

[2] LowEndMac passes on warnings that ATA-6 drives are not compatible with the 2300c, which may need to be a consideration in replacing the hard drive in the 2300c with a CF contraption.

That took a while to work up, and I’m not completely sure I got the max capacities right or what the precise relationship I need to worry about is between IDE and EIDE and the different ATA levels. But it is interesting to see this list spelled out this way, it suggests to me that I have too many machines to realistically update them all. It reinforces the idea that I should mainly be concentrating on replacing hard drives that have already failed, and stick with the hard drives that are installed if they still work. Also, I am really leaning toward flogging some of the non-unique (or just uninteresting) ones off on ebay or something once I get them to start. And, sorry to say, those I may well consider putting cheap vintage drives in.

Mar 102012
 

Before today, I had a graphite iMac DV/SE which got pretty badly cracked during shipping.

Imacdvse 1 cracked side

And I had a iMac G4 (which is currently kind of cutely perched atop my IIgs, Snoopy-style).

Imacg4vulture

Today’s trip to the computer recycler (a different one from the one I visited last time) yielded quite a few more. I got a snow iMac, which I somehow failed to take a picture of, and two more graphite iMac DV/SEs, to make up for the cracked one.

Imacdvse 2

Imacdvse 3

And I wound up with five more iMac G4s. The reason I wound up with five more of these is that they were basically on their way to the crusher. If I didn’t take them, they would be destroyed. And I felt like I couldn’t let that happen. The recycler gave me the whole set for $8 per machine.

Imacg4gathering

Browsing around computer recycling places is pretty interesting. But I don’t think I could ever (even if there were any chance of a career change in my future) work in such a place. Because their main mission is to destroy these things, ecologically. I understand that it probably has to be done. But it seems like it would be rather like working in a slaughterhouse for someone who really loves pigs.