VOGONS


First post, by dionb

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Today I was testing a pile of Adaptec AHA-2940AU PCI SCSI adapters.

In my mind they were ubiquitous, bog-standard, trouble-free devices, the quintessential PCI low-end option. Well, they are ubiquitous all right, but there's more than meets the eye to these beasts. They have a non-flashable BIOS ROM (not EEPROM) and there are various different revisions out there. In my pile I encountered:

1.21
1.30
1.34.2

The boards also differed. All were ASSY 967106-00 and FAB 967107-00 REV A, but two kinds were labeled PCB: CHINA and the third PCB: TAIWAN. The Taiwan PCB was golden green, the China PCB either shiny green or matte green.The China boards had FCC ID on the front side near the LED connector, the Taiwan one had it on a sticker on the back. Aside from cosmetics, the actual population of the PCBs was nearly identical, except that one shiny green board had R15 populated and not R16, where the others all had R16, not R15. Whether this was relevant I'm not sure, but this was the card with the 1.34.2 BIOS, and that BIOS didn't work on any of the others (no SCSI BIOS at boot at all), and neither of the other BIOS versions worked on this card (SCSI BIOS seems to crash, then no detection and straight through to IDE boot).

1.21 and 1.30 BIOS were - as far as I could see - freely interchangeable.

Now, to test these cards, I had two big period incorrect Quantum Atlas IV 10k 18.2GB drives, connected via SCA-to-50p SCSI adapters. ID was set to 0 and 1 (adapter ID 7). Tests were performed on an old BCM SQ-599 motherboad with SiS5511 chipset supporting PCI 2.1.

On BIOS 1.30 and 1.34.2, both drives were detected correctly and were fully usable. On BIOS 1.21 the first drive (ID 0) was detected correctly, but detection then hung/timed out and only the first drive was available. The limitation is clearly a BIOS limitation, as swapping out 1.21 and 1.30 BIOS caused the issue to stick with the BIOS chip, not the PCB.

I looked on the Adaptec site, and although it still contains support info for the AHA-2940AU, I didn't find any reference to BIOS version dependencies, just the comment that BIOS was not flashable.

So:
- for good large drive support, you want BIOS >=1.30
- BIOS 1.34.2 only works on specific cards, and those cards don't like older BIOS.

Reply 1 of 12, by weedeewee

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would be nice to know if swapping R15 with R16, and vice versa, would allow the newer/older bios to work.... 😁
also... can you use these cards in target mode?

Reply 2 of 12, by dionb

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weedeewee wrote on 2021-08-04, 21:07:

would be nice to know if swapping R15 with R16, and vice versa, would allow the newer/older bios to work.... 😁

Ugh, I hate SMD soldering / don't have the right equipment to do it properly. Maybe one day, but not today.

also... can you use these cards in target mode?

With the right OS: yes.

The Linux ahc module/driver for pretty much all Adaptec VLB/PCI cards (including the AHA-2940AU) supports target mode operation. Probably other OS do too, but not too sure of which exactly.

Reply 4 of 12, by Horun

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Thanks ! Did not know about the Taiwan and China variants. Knew that 1.30+ was required for proper 8GB+ HD size on U and UW.
but did not know about swapping 1.21 and 1.30 on a 2940U would work. Some of my 2940U/UW are flashable but a few are not.
Makes me want to go back thru them and document which ones are flashable but iirc looking them over gave no clue unless I pulled the yellow tag off the rom chip (which no one on Ebay/etc will do if you ask)
Good work !

added: bios 1.23 for 2940U also does not support 8GB+ (am looking at one board made Tawain and I felt penned it on the back "no 8G+ HD bios 1.23 Atmel 29c512 would not flash" 🤣)

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor.

Reply 5 of 12, by led178

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dionb wrote on 2021-08-04, 18:36:

1.21
1.30
1.34.2

Could you post all the firmware?
They are on http://angelus.rot13.org/2940au/ but both archives are corrupted "2940au v1.34.2.zip: Unexpected end of archive"

Reply 6 of 12, by dionb

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led178 wrote on 2021-11-25, 18:18:
dionb wrote on 2021-08-04, 18:36:

1.21
1.30
1.34.2

Could you post all the firmware?
They are on http://angelus.rot13.org/2940au/ but both archives are corrupted "2940au v1.34.2.zip: Unexpected end of archive"

Ugh, gave away two of the cards and will have to dig up the third. Might also have another somewhere, but no promises. If I find something, I'll upload it.

Reply 7 of 12, by led178

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dionb wrote on 2021-11-25, 19:34:

Ugh, gave away two of the cards and will have to dig up the third. Might also have another somewhere, but no promises. If I find something, I'll upload it.

I tried to restore the archive, there is one byte missing! I could not get. I removed resistor R16 and set a zero resistor to R15. I still uploaded this firmware but it does not work.

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Reply 8 of 12, by Horun

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led178 wrote on 2021-11-25, 21:52:
dionb wrote on 2021-11-25, 19:34:

Ugh, gave away two of the cards and will have to dig up the third. Might also have another somewhere, but no promises. If I find something, I'll upload it.

I tried to restore the archive, there is one byte missing! I could not get. I removed resistor R16 and set a zero resistor to R15. I still uploaded this firmware but it does not work.

Curious what chip is under the 2940AU label ? I can find no clear pictures of a 2940AU without that sticker.....
On one of my older 2940u is a AIC7880p main chip and it has a SMD eprom as well as a spot for a socketed or soldered DIP eprom. It has bios 1.34.
Wonder if it's bios would work on your 2940AU

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor.

Reply 9 of 12, by weedeewee

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Horun wrote on 2021-11-26, 00:29:
Curious what chip is under the 2940AU label ? I can find no clear pictures of a 2940AU without that sticker..... On one of my ol […]
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led178 wrote on 2021-11-25, 21:52:
dionb wrote on 2021-11-25, 19:34:

Ugh, gave away two of the cards and will have to dig up the third. Might also have another somewhere, but no promises. If I find something, I'll upload it.

I tried to restore the archive, there is one byte missing! I could not get. I removed resistor R16 and set a zero resistor to R15. I still uploaded this firmware but it does not work.

Curious what chip is under the 2940AU label ? I can find no clear pictures of a 2940AU without that sticker.....
On one of my older 2940u is a AIC7880p main chip and it has a SMD eprom as well as a spot for a socketed or soldered DIP eprom. It has bios 1.34.
Wonder if it's bios would work on your 2940AU

since I had to find a scsi adapter to test something and came across an 2940AU...
photo of the card, the chip without the sticker and the rom v1.34.2
for those that need it.

Attachments

  • Filename
    2940au v1.34.2.BIN.zip
    File size
    32.79 KiB
    Downloads
    1 download
    File comment
    adaptec 2940AU rom v1.34.2
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • aic-7860q.jpg
    Filename
    aic-7860q.jpg
    File size
    329.27 KiB
    Views
    143 views
    File comment
    adaptec 2940AU AIC-7860q
    File license
    Public domain
  • 2940au.jpg
    Filename
    2940au.jpg
    File size
    363.98 KiB
    Views
    143 views
    File comment
    adaptec 2940AU
    File license
    Public domain

Reply 11 of 12, by led178

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weedeewee wrote on 2021-11-26, 16:55:

photo of the card, the chip without the sticker and the rom v1.34.2
for those that need it.

Thank you very much !!!
1.32 found at the bannister

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