MBC: HP a990, HP Repair - Beacon Newsletter 
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Monterey Bay Communications: HP 1000 Beacon Newsletter

HP 1000 Beacon - HP a990, HP Repair 

 Volume 2, Issue 1 


HP A990: Real-World Comparisons

By Bob Combs, COMBS International

Bob Comb is the founder and president of COMBS INTERNATIONAL, 

a software house that supplies package, integration, and consulting services. 

 

Sometime ago, HP announced the coming of a new HP 1000 A-Series processor: the HP A990. This processor was touted as being twice as fast as the HP A900. A new processor to extend the HP 1000 line was good news to most of us in the RTE community. I wondered if HP could and would deliver on its promise. Would the A990 be a messiah or a pariah? So, I volunteered to Beta Test the A990 and run it through some "practical" test to find out for myself. HP accepted. 
Both flavors of A990 were tested, the A900 backplane board and the A400/A600+/A700 backplane board, which has the additional memory signals routed on the connector side of the card exposed to the user. Mechanical differences aside, the two CPU flavors behaved identically. 
The A400, A600+, and A990 were all tested using the same identical hardware. Only the CPU and memory cards were changed. The A990 and A900 use the same memory card, as do the A400 and A600+. The A990 uses the A900 gen. 
The battery of tests was composed of trivial test to count the number of executions per second, a software development performance test, and a real-time system performance test. During testing, no other activity was allowed to run on the system. The first battery tested memory transfer, computation (integer, long integer, real, and double real), file opening/closing, file copying, and terminal output. The Mem, Calc, and Output tests are good comparisons since they have no interaction with the disk. The file and Copy tests are limited comparisons since they are disk time dependent. The data in Table 1 show the simple tests and the comparison of the A990 versus each of the others. The speed factors versus an A900, discounting disk limited tests, range from 2.13 to 4.58, depending upon the test. Memory transfer and integer math show the largest factor - over four times faster than an A900.  Compared to an A400 or A600+, the factors range as high as 18.43. Since compiling and linking are mostly disk intensive processes, one wouldn't expect to see much speed improvement. The results show otherwise. The conclusion is that compiling is not as disk bound as originally assumed since an A990 compile showed a 2.18 times improvement over an A900. Linking appears to show less improvement, more in line with the disk intensive assumption. The overall results of Table 1 show a better than two times improvement in the A990 over the A900. 
How does the A900 compare? Clearly, HP has delivered on its promise of twice the speed of an A900. In fact, it's faster than the twice as fast promised. The A990 is as interchangeable and compatible with all the other A-Series processors as you'd expect. I congratulate HP for an excellent job on the A990! 

 

A400 A600+ A900 A990 Comparison to A990
27-Jan-92
vs A400
vs A600+
vs A900
Mem: 
244.03
266.84
111.20
24.30
10.04
11.80
4.58
Calc:
Int*2
229.33
231.42
126.53
30.40
7.54
7.61
4.16
Int*4
276.40
332.84
123.03
38.27
7.22
8.70
3.22
Real*4
448.17
643.18
111.93
39.3
11.40
16.37
2.85
Real*8
1388.03
1483.24
191.40
80.477
17.25
18.43
2.38
File:
132.47
132.26
62.33
83.23
1.59
1.59
.75
Copy:
846.93
830.58
895.63
618.40
1.37
1.34
1.45
Output:
3.83
3.80
1.57
0.74
5.18
4.74
2.13
Compile:
47.18
48.94
34.80
15.99
2.95
3.06
2.18
Link:
21.38
22.09
14.40
9.07
2.36
2.44
1.59

Note: all times in msec.

MBC Repairs HP!


As many HP 1000 Beacon readers may already know, it is becoming more difficult to get replacement parts and service support from Hewlett-Packard for the 1000 line, especially for M/E/F Series products. And even when it is available, the lead time may be too long to be of practical use. There is an alternative... 
Monterey Bay Communications offers a wide variety of repair services for the entire line of HP 1000 A-Series and M/E/F Series equipment, from board-level to complete systems. In addition to depot repair, we provide spares stocking, emergency exchanges, custom crash kits, and evaluation (test) kits. 
Interestingly enough, many of our referrals actually come from Hewlett-Packard, as often we are able to provide the parts needed on a more timely basis or can supply an item that is no longer in production. 
We maintain an extensive inventory of current products and hard-to-find parts, boards, and cables no longer supported/ supplied by the manufacturer. 
Our fully trained technical staff utilize the same diagnostic tools and procedures as the manufacturer to test, repair, and refurbish equipment. 
Most repairs are covered under our fixed price schedule. Products requiring extensive repair or refurbishment are accepted on a time and materials basis. Customers are informed of any discoveries or additional charges before proceeding. Normal turnaround time for repairs is normally only three working days from receipt of the equipment, subject to parts availability. 
Exchanges are filled on an as available basis. The returned item must be repairable and of sufficient revision to be upgradeable to the level of the item supplied. Otherwise, additional charges may be assessed. Repair and/or exchange pricing does not apply to items with missing parts, physical or electrical damage, or modifications. 
Some of our most satisfying inquiries come from Users who thought that their beloved HP 1000 Series 21MX Series computer, MAC interfaced disc drive, or 262X terminal, in need of repair, was beyond a solution. The M/E/F Series equipment listing on Page 3 of this issue of the HP 1000 Beacon lists only a few of the products for which Monterey Bay Communications continues to offer sales, service, and repair. 
Users are assured of receiving equipment that is completely tested and refurbished, meets the latest manufacturer specifications, and is eligible for an HP service contract. We guarantee it! 
So, next time you encounter a hardware or support problem with your HP 1000 system, no need to despair. Monterey Bay Communications, the HP 1000 Series Specialists, has a cost-effective and timely solution for you! 

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