IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

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IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-1-13 @ 21:06

Some weeks ago I bought an IBM Intellistation model 6889-930 of eBay. The picture in the listing was a stock photo, so when it arrived I was happy to see that it was in pretty good condition. The plastic does have some scratches, but nothing major that can’t be fixed.

Here's a pdf from back then: http://ps-2.kev009.com/pccbbs/commercial_desktop/dts6154f.pdf

The specs for my particular unit are:
  • Intel 440BX, Dual Slot-1
  • Single 600 MHz Pentium 3
  • 128MB ECC PC100
  • Built-in Adaptec 7895
  • Built-in Crystal 4235 Audio
  • AGP + 5 x PCI + 1 x ISA
  • Matrox G400 16MB AGP
  • 2 x IBM 9.1GB SCSI
  • Floppy + CDROM

The sticker underneath says Mfg Date 910, so October of 1999.

I was glad to see the machine POST without errors. However, after some time it would randomly turn off. Turned out the PSU was bad, but luckily it can accept standard ATX plugs, so not a big problem. With a new PSU it ran the IBM Diagnostics self tests without errors :)

The plan is to turn this into a dual processor workstation running Windows NT 4.0, but first I took everything apart and cleaned it:

_55A9396.jpg


I was unsure of the condition of the hard disks it came with, so I ordered a new 300GB 10K SCSI. 300GB is obviously way overkill, but I couldn't find a good deal on a smaller hard disk. A full installation of NT4, Visual C++ 6, a few games, and several other big programs takes ~1.5 GB. Those were the days!

I found an extra matching CPU for 5 USD and an extra 256 MB RAM.

The seller also had an extra motherboard for sale for ~25 USD. Nice to have as a backup, since it is a non-standard form factor.

For graphics card, I knew I didn't want to use the Matrox card it came with. Back in the day, the machine could be ordered with an Intergraph Intense 3D Pro 3400. I also briefly considered something like a 3Dlabs GVX1, which is available on eBay. However, then I saw a review of Nvidia's first Quadro card here: https://www.anandtech.com/show/439.

Despite their minute size, the Quadro cards perform remarkably well, so I ordered an IBM branded Elsa Gloria II. These were an option in the Intellistation model that replaced the one I have. Since the Quadro card is basically a GeForce 256, but with twice the memory and slightly higher core clocks, it is probably good for gaming in Windows 98, too.

IMG_3098.jpg


I was planning to use an YMF-724 based PCI sound card instead of the built-in chip. Unfortunately the computer won't even POST with this card installed, so it's probably dead.

Installing NT4 turned out to be more difficult than anticipated. I booted the NT4 install CD, but no matter what I did, it would not recognize the built-in Adaptec 7895 SCSI controller. I tried loading several different versions of the driver disk during setup, but no luck. Eventually I found a document on the IBM website, which said that installing NT4 to a SCSI hard drive must be done from floppies. Installing from a IDE CDROM is simply not possibly! After generating the install floppies, everything went smoothly. NT4 runs very well on this machine. Haven’t experienced a single BSOD or other instability,

_55A9417.jpg

_55A9415.jpg

_55A9403.jpg


Plans going forward:
  • Install second CPU + RAM
  • Test spare m/b
  • Replace fans since PC is quite noisy
  • Dual boot Windows 98SE
  • Remove scratches from plastic somehow.
  • Replace built-in Crystal 4235 with new sound card

Any other suggestions welcome!
Last edited by anderswk on 2018-1-14 @ 21:49, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: IBM Intellistation 6889-930

Postby Robert B » 2018-1-13 @ 22:06

I like the EXPLODED view :D and the fact that you took it all apart. I know I would've done the same thing!
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Re: IBM Intellistation 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-1-14 @ 10:34

Thanks. It occured to me that the exploded view did not include the motherboard itself, so here a few more pictures:
IMG_3148.jpg

IMG_3151.jpg

IMG_3154.jpg

IMG_3159.jpg
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby oeuvre » 2018-1-14 @ 15:18

Awesome! I ordered an Intellistation M Pro on eBay the other day so hopefully I can play with it this week.

Have no idea about the specs of mine but it has a PII sticker on the front so it's slightly older. Thanks for the pictures, might come in handy. Really like that ps-2 site which has a TON of IBM documentation.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby JidaiGeki » 2018-1-15 @ 11:03

What a beautiful machine, and lovely photos too. I'd be happy to get my hands on one of these!

Many years ago, I worked at IBM as an on-site building manager; as the only computer enthusiast among a team of engineers and architects they got me to spec up a dual PII M Pro for CAD work. From memory it was a dual PII 400MHz, and had the maximum RAM and disks available to corporate customers, running NT. It was a sight to behold when it was delivered, we were working on Pentium desktops, the main electrical engineer had a dated Thinkpad, and we had a 286 PS/2 down in the shed that my handyman re-purposed from the discard pile - it was quicker to hand deliver him instructions than to send him anything via Lotus Notes :lol: anyway, enjoy the M Pros guys!
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby oeuvre » 2018-1-16 @ 13:39

also, better way to install NT4 is boot off an MS-DOS floppy or CD, pop in the NT4 CD and run winnt /b from the i386 folder to setup without having to make floppies
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-1-16 @ 22:04

oeuvre wrote:also, better way to install NT4 is boot off an MS-DOS floppy or CD, pop in the NT4 CD and run winnt /b from the i386 folder to setup without having to make floppies


Ok, didn't know you could do it that way. Looking forward to hearing about your IntelliStation.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby chinny22 » 2018-1-16 @ 23:14

anderswk wrote:
oeuvre wrote:also, better way to install NT4 is boot off an MS-DOS floppy or CD, pop in the NT4 CD and run winnt /b from the i386 folder to setup without having to make floppies


Ok, didn't know you could do it that way. Looking forward to hearing about your IntelliStation.


I guess you could do that if you copied the 9386 folder to a hard drive as well? Would get around 1) having to load CD drivers 2) having to insert the CD whenever something changes. Lucky you did get that 300 GB drive now.

I run NT4 Server on my Compaq Proliant Duel P3 600, That's strictly a file server at the moment for all my old games, drivers, etc. I tried Win2k but NT just felt more right.

My Asus P2B-DS Duel P3 600 runs Win2k and it pretty good games rig, noisy with 4 9GB SCSI drives and loads of fans, but all that ex enterprise hardware makes it more fun then my single P3 1Ghz.

I like how your keeping yours to its workstation roots, It will be interesting to see how well NT can game, I haven't tried in years. The black case makes it look more modern then it actually is as well.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby shamino » 2018-1-20 @ 14:28

A long time ago my parents asked for advice on buying a computer, and I recommended one of these to them. At the time, they were just getting to be "obsolete" for engineering work and there was a seller on eBay liquidating them in large numbers. Theirs was a P2-450MHz model, which later got upgraded to dual P3-550MHz (Katmai), as well as a RAM and hard drive upgrade.
These were premium workstations and the quality shows. They're nicely designed and the original motherboard is bulletproof. There were never any problems with that computer, it just got old and the internet got fat with scripts.

In it's old age I tried to install Coppermine CPUs but got blocked by the BIOS. They were up and running electrically, but the BIOS displayed a message that basically said "Sorry, we won't let you use these CPUs. Click." That arbitrary lockout was disappointing, but I guess it's as much in character for the IBM mindset as it is for Intel's. It did a great job up to it's Officially Supported Performance Limits.

I eventually upgraded them to a modern system but still used their IBM case. It supports EATX/ATX motherboards, but with some complications. The issues I remember were with figuring out how to adapt the front panel connector, and the fact that the case only has 6 expansion slot openings (so it needed a board that doesn't require access to the "top" slot). But it's a nice case, despite being semi-proprietary.

If you want to max out the RAM in an officially recommended and spec compliant fashion, look for some 256MB Registered ECC PC100 modules. They would need to use either 16Mx4 type (36-chips, often stacked 2-high) or 16Mx8 type (18-chips) ICs, but I imagine pretty much all PC100 256MB Registered modules are designed to work with 440BX/GX chipsets anyway.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-1-21 @ 21:45

I remember reading that 256MB modules had to be registered. Upgrading to 1GB memory might be a future project, but right now 384MB is sufficient.

I finally got around to testing the extra motherboard and second CPU:
IMG_3170.jpg

Both work fine. I was too lazy figure out the pin-out of the proprietary power switch connector, so I ended up simply connecting it to the switch assembly in the case :blush:

After booting with two CPUs installed, NT succesfully detected them both (I was already using the multiprocessor HAL). Ahh, dual CPU bliss :happy: Surprised how much more responsive NT feels with two CPUs.

The replacement fans and $3 fan controller arrived:
IMG_3173.jpg

I installed the fan controller near the middle of the case, so that the thermistor is close to the CPUs. Also replaced the PSU with an old Corsair HX520. Need to test this solution more, but so far it works well. The loudest part is now the small fan on the graphics card. Considering replacing it with a cheap aftermarket cooler.
IMG_3183.jpg


The machine came with a very long flat 68pin SCSI cable with five connectors and terminator. For better cable management, I bought a used rounded cable with only two connectors and also terminated. However, it doesn't work. During POST it complains that the cable is not terminated. I'm a beginner when it comes to SCSI, so I'm wondering if I ordered the wrong kind of cable or if it is simply broken?
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby shamino » 2018-1-22 @ 00:53

I'm not good with SCSI either. But you might be able to solve it by setting a termination jumper on the last device in the chain. The SCSI drives I've seen have had a jumper setting for that.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby chinny22 » 2018-1-22 @ 16:26

Wouldn't be surprised if the SCSI drives will hide the graphics card fan, Still I work under the assumption every little bit helps, even though I'm not sure it does in reality.

I replaced a SCSI cable with a rounded one just a connector each end, Think it was originally from a Dell server. Mine just runs from the motherboard to the tape drive and it does have the termination jumper set like shamino said.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-1-22 @ 18:19

Yes, the SCSI hdd is definitely a close wrt noise, if not tied the graphics card.

Good idea with the termination jumper. I checked the manual and unfortunately Maxtor 10K V doesn't support on-board termination..

Edit: Apparently there are at least three different types of terminators: SE, HVD, and LVD and some of them also come in active and passive versions. The cable I bought was for U320, so it's probably LVD. I believe the 7895 uses HVD, so I suppose that is why it is not working.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-1-26 @ 09:00

Maybe a bit silly, but thank @oeuvre.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby oeuvre » 2018-1-26 @ 15:02

Lovely!
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-2-09 @ 10:18

Got a replacement sound card today.
IMG_3261.jpg

Sound quality is really good. No background hiss, like on the AWE64 Gold it is replacing.

Installation on NT4 was a bit painful. The first drivers I tried installed fine and appeared to work. However, after a short while audio would just stop working. Apparently these 2.03.01 drivers don't support dual CPUs. This should be fixed in 2.06.01 beta, but these drivers would silently fail to install even after uninstalling v2.03. The solution was to manually delete the drivers from system32 and then install the new drivers.

Still need to get the card up and running in Win98SE + DOS, but now I have a free ISA slot. Wonder what I'll do with that.. :happy:
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby oeuvre » 2018-2-09 @ 23:37

AU8830s are fun! Did you grab the A3D demos too?
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-2-10 @ 10:24

I did try the demos, but they just hung on startup. Have you had success running them under NT4?
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby oeuvre » 2018-2-10 @ 13:55

Yeah, a while ago.
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Re: IBM IntelliStation M Pro 6889-930

Postby anderswk » 2018-2-12 @ 19:01

Here's something for the empty ISA slot:

IMG_3271.jpg


Build is nearing completion. :)
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