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Musings on 99000 macro code

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6 hours ago, pnr2015 said:

Do you have that user guide (or a link)? Did anybody ever come across a copy of the "990/12 Writeable Control Store Assembler and Language" manual?

Regrettably, no. Been looking high and low for a while on both. As well as basically anything 990, Business System, including the TIPC and other Intel-based, the 68K machines, NuBus, Explorer, NuMachine, Lisp uP, etc. that bitsavers, kl99, etc. don't have online yet. Also 960, 980, ASC, the earlier TIACs, and so forth. And some of the 3rd-party 990 boards, and the 990-based PC add-in systems.

 

So far it's been interesting tracing the development histories of these machines. Some fascinating stuff. The Ten-X COBOL accelerator was another product that "walked out the door" from TI. Used AM29203 ALU's.  Customers wanted faster COBOL, TI decided it would rather sell /12's than a /10 add-in card, so the engineers working on the concept left and started Ten-X. Far from done but I hope to start writing some of this up soon. 

 

990 microcode is of course a different animal than 99K macrocode assembly, but if your aim is to implement the rest of the /12 instruction set, it would be useful to know. I'll post anything I find here.

 

jbdigriz

Edited by jbdigriz
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On 1/19/2018 at 8:31 PM, pnr said:

 

Maybe not. Internal macro store accesses do not generate RD# signals. What I think you are seeing on 99110 silicon is the single read of external location >1000. If your 2nd chip does not have the extension interface at all, it will not read location >1000 (or apparently any other location) but simply return with an ILLOP exit. If it has no extension interface, there is no obvious way of reading out its macro rom.

 

I've now tested through all macro jump table entries (first instruction for each entry only) and with any possible magic word at location >1000. For my chip I did not find an extension interface this way either.

 

To see if you have 99000 silicon in your second 99105 you could try the LMF instruction (>0320). If I'm not mistaken that instruction should make at least 3 accesses to parallel IO space, which your logical analyzer can trigger on if you add A0 and BST3 as inputs (but perhaps wise to test first that LMF is accepted as a valid instruction on your chip).

 

That leaves the question of how they factory tested a 99000. Maybe they felt that the LDS/LDD/LMF instructions were simple enough that they could check the chip's responses in test scenarios that covered every instruction for these in its macro rom code. That would be the hard way. The easy way would been to have some sort of back door to read out the macro rom and simply test that each word has the data in it that it should have.

 

The easy way ties in with having the last 16 words reserved for factory testing, which suggests those 16 words might have a backdoor. The question then becomes how to trigger this backdoor. Maybe TI implemented an macro instruction that reads and returns a macrostore word, or implemented a macro XOP (i.e. with ST11=1) for that.

 

Maybe I'm just clutching at straws here: maybe the 99000 is simply a locked box.

I was querying a correspondent about the MMU on the Ten-X 7-XP board and the following is what he reported wrt the 99105:

 

"The TMS99105 had some undocumented macro space (32 bytes) inside the processor. This was 0 wait state memory and I utilized this to implement a variant of the LMF opcode to load the MMU."

 

Probably the same factory testing space you mention above. Whether this applies to the 99000 I'm not sure. Only have 99105's here and haven't got a breadboard set up yet. My contact above is busy with other things at the moment but when he has time that's one of the things I need to ask him about in more detail.

 

What Ten-X docs I have are here: ftp://www.dragonsweb.org/pub/ti/docs/Ten-X/

 

He also tells me the 7-XP stuff was later sold to a German company, but doesn't recall which one. Anyone has any idea I sure would like to know.

 

jbdigriz

 

 

Edited by jbdigriz
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I know Siemens vacuumed up a lot of the 990 stuff, and I think there was at least one other company over there that made a number of add-on boards.

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I was querying a correspondent about the MMU on the Ten-X 7-XP board and the following is what he reported wrt the 99105

Would that correspondent be Daren Appelt by any chance?

 

The TMS99105 had some undocumented macro space (32 bytes) inside the processor. This was 0 wait state memory and I utilized this to implement a variant of the LMF opcode to load the MMU.

 

That might refer to the macro space workspace, 16 registers = 32 bytes. This was located at macro memory address 0. It is the bottom-right square on the die shot here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Instruments_TMS9900#/media/File:TI_TMS99105A_die.JPG


What Ten-X docs I have are here: ftp://www.dragonsweb.org/pub/ti/docs/Ten-X/

 

That is interesting; looking at it now.

 

He also tells me the 7-XP stuff was later sold to a German company, but doesn't recall which one. Anyone has any idea I sure would like to know.

 

It could also refer to Kienzle. Kienzle was one of the many German mini-computer companies focussing on business computers for mid-sized businesses. They used the 9900 CPU in the late 70's and the 99000 family in their later models. Like much of the New England computer scene they did not make it through the 80's and ended up being acquired by industrial conglomerate Mannesman. In 1991 it was sold on to Digital Equipment Corp. For German speakers (readers) the full story is here.

 

990 microcode is of course a different animal than 99K macrocode assembly, but if your aim is to implement the rest of the /12 instruction set, it would be useful to know. I'll post anything I find here.

 

Thanks. It would be interesting. I did a full analysis & commentary on the 99110 ROM a while back.

Edited by pnr
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On 10/1/2020 at 7:25 AM, Ksarul said:

I know Siemens vacuumed up a lot of the 990 stuff, and I think there was at least one other company over there that made a number of add-on boards.

By way of Johnson Controls, as I understand it, but I'm not sure if they acquired the totality of 990 assets. One of the questions I seek answers to. Anyone here from Siemens or Johnson, or TI, who could provide any clarification here, please chime in. It is one possibility for the Ten-X stuff, too, but while digging through Siemens' vast online documentation several times over the years, I don't recall ever seeing anything like the 7-XP, there. It could have scrolled on off, but there is plenty of 5TI stuff still mentioned, for instance.

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On 10/1/2020 at 4:02 PM, pnr said:

I was querying a correspondent about the MMU on the Ten-X 7-XP board and the following is what he reported wrt the 99105

Would that correspondent be Daren Appelt by any chance?

I need to hold off on attributions for now. I'll have a write-up soon, I hope, if I can get past a backlog of other things that have crept up on my time.  

On 10/1/2020 at 4:02 PM, pnr said:

 

The TMS99105 had some undocumented macro space (32 bytes) inside the processor. This was 0 wait state memory and I utilized this to implement a variant of the LMF opcode to load the MMU.

 

That might refer to the macro space workspace, 16 registers = 32 bytes. This was located at macro memory address 0. It is the bottom-right square on the die shot here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Instruments_TMS9900#/media/File:TI_TMS99105A_die.JPG

Could be. The factory test space is 16 words, too, right? Anyway, I'll post what I find out.

On 10/1/2020 at 4:02 PM, pnr said:

 


What Ten-X docs I have are here: ftp://www.dragonsweb.org/pub/ti/docs/Ten-X/

 

That is interesting; looking at it now.

 

He also tells me the 7-XP stuff was later sold to a German company, but doesn't recall which one. Anyone has any idea I sure would like to know.

 

It could also refer to Kienzle. Kienzle was one of the many German mini-computer companies focussing on business computers for mid-sized businesses. They used the 9900 CPU in the late 70's and the 99000 family in their later models. Like much of the New England computer scene they did not make it through the 80's and ended up being acquired by industrial conglomerate Mannesman. In 1991 it was sold on to Digital Equipment Corp. For German speakers (readers) the full story is here.

That's a possibility. The Kienzle machines supposedly used 990 boards, though, based on what little I've been able to find. Anyone here seen inside one and can tell for sure if they used an actual 990 backplane? I'm thinking maybe they used the TM990 bus instead. I hadn't heard of a 99000 model before, but that could have possibly been based on the BS300, which is essentially a /10A CPU  in a 931 terminal case, ISTR. Or, again, a 99K board in a TM990 backplane. But, yes, it could also be an ISA bus machine with a 7-XP add-in. Anybody here seen inside one of the later Kienzles? 

On 10/1/2020 at 4:02 PM, pnr said:

990 microcode is of course a different animal than 99K macrocode assembly, but if your aim is to implement the rest of the /12 instruction set, it would be useful to know. I'll post anything I find here.

 

Thanks. It would be interesting. I did a full analysis & commentary on the 99110 ROM a while back.

Yes, absolutely masterful exposition. Thanks!

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From what I've seen, Kienzle used 68000 and MIPS-based machines (running UNIX), at least during the later period where Mannesmann owned them. Their somewhat earlier 9000 series (late eighties) did use the 99000 though (along with their own proprietary MTOS operating system).

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9 hours ago, Ksarul said:

From what I've seen, Kienzle used 68000 and MIPS-based machines (running UNIX), at least during the later period where Mannesmann owned them. Their somewhat earlier 9000 series (late eighties) did use the 99000 though (along with their own proprietary MTOS operating system).

I looked and found two articles on Kienzle 99000. They indicate their 9000 systems were sold til at least 1987 when the company planned to make Unix workstations. In 1991 it was sold to DEC. 

 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbronline.com/news/kienzle_takes_its_9000_into_the_factory_as_it_waits_for_competitive_unix_box/amp/

 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbronline.com/news/mannesmann_kienzle_reassures_customers_of_its_commitment_to_unix/amp/

 

 

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10 hours ago, FarmerPotato said:

I looked and found two articles on Kienzle 99000. They indicate their 9000 systems were sold til at least 1987 when the company planned to make Unix workstations. In 1991 it was sold to DEC. 

 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbronline.com/news/kienzle_takes_its_9000_into_the_factory_as_it_waits_for_competitive_unix_box/amp/

 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbronline.com/news/mannesmann_kienzle_reassures_customers_of_its_commitment_to_unix/amp/

 

 

Here's an unencrypted link to a software house which apparently still supports the Kienzle systems: http://www.kl-systems.eu/kienzle.htm

 

I would assume then that systems are still in use somewhere, and this outfit may know who still works on the hardware. Maybe some of our German-speaking members in Europe could look into this?  It would be great to get some details of the system, ie. Are they repackaged 990's with Kienzle's OS, or are they Kienzle's own design? Pics, docs, etc., appreciated. Even bitsavers has nothing on these machines.

 

From the looks of things, Kienzle would be a logical candidate for having purchased the 7-XP stuff. If so, they would likely have produced a PC clone system, but I see no evidence that they did.

 

jbdigriz

Edited by jbdigriz

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Reading through their website, the page you found is still there @jbdigriz, but the only way you can get to it is via Internet search (none of the internal links seem to point to it anymore, as of the 2018 site update).

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12 hours ago, Ksarul said:

Reading through their website, the page you found is still there @jbdigriz, but the only way you can get to it is via Internet search (none of the internal links seem to point to it anymore, as of the 2018 site update).

I see. It might still be worth looking into, or it could be a dead end. 

 

Lots of business and social history regarding Kienzle. It does appear systems were sold until 1997-98 at least. Digital passed the enterprise on to an employee held operation, it turns out. After that fizzled, there were a few more attempts mostly by former employees to revive things, but that also seems to have gone nowhere. Apparently something like 30,000 series 9000 systems ( I think these are the 99000-based ones. ) were put in service altogether, though. They were considered reliable systems and were successful, until, of course, the glut of cheap 32-bit PC's ended the minicomputer era for business markets.

 

Technical info is definitely scarce. Kienzle apparently never had a museum like Nixdorf does, either.

 

Some history, and a pic of a 6000 series, here: http://wiki.ghv-villingen.de/?p=4460

More here, with a picture of a 9000 series installation: wz-8892.pdf

And here, with some statistics: Das Ende der Computersparte

 

Google Translate is helpful.

 

jbdigriz

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As I understand it, Kienzle got started as a manufacturer of mechanical taximeters in the 1920's and from there expanded into electro-mechanical tabulating/accounting machines in the 1950/60's. From there they moved to electronic accounting machines (what in Germany they used to call "Mittlere Datentechnik", mid-range information technology). This was the 6000 series. Some sources say it used the 9900, but considering is was launched in 1968 that is probably wrong. Perhaps the later models did.

 

Kienzle got stuck in that technology and was late converting to true mini-computers. They launched the 9000 series in 1979 and this used the tms9900 for sure. As they were entering the market late without clear differentiation, it was not a commercial success. I visited the Kienzle factory in 1984 (I think) as a student on a group field trip and came across a 9000 series machine in passing. They mainly wanted to showcase their automobile technologies but I got a few questions in. What I remember of that is that it was based on the tms9900 and that it ran MTOS. They also claimed that it could "run Unix as a sub-system under MTOS". I think what that meant was that it had a C compiler and a C library that worked under MTOS. I've never found any other reference to that, maybe it was a research skunkworks project. I think the main workhorse in the 9000 series was the Kienzle 9066. I am not sure what MTOS was. It could have been an in-house development, it is also possible that it was a translated version of DX10, or something like that.

 

Later on they had the the 9100, 9200 etc. series, which I believe to have been tms99000 based (99105 most likely). In view of the timeline it is possible that the later 9x00 series used Ten-X technology, but I am speculating here.

 

It is quite likely that (Mannesmann-) Kienzle made similar steps as TI in the late 80's, switching to x86 and 68K based unix systems, with software support to run the 990 base of Cobol programs, before giving up altogether.
 

There is a list of Kienzle models here:
http://www.computer-archiv.de (go to section K, select Kienzle, for the specific page).
As Ksarul already observed, there are also MIPS machines in the list, the 2800 series.

 

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8 hours ago, pnr said:

As I understand it, Kienzle got started as a manufacturer of mechanical taximeters in the 1920's and from there expanded into electro-mechanical tabulating/accounting machines in the 1950/60's. From there they moved to electronic accounting machines (what in Germany they used to call "Mittlere Datentechnik", mid-range information technology). This was the 6000 series. Some sources say it used the 9900, but considering is was launched in 1968 that is probably wrong. Perhaps the later models did.

 

Kienzle got stuck in that technology and was late converting to true mini-computers. They launched the 9000 series in 1979 and this used the tms9900 for sure. As they were entering the market late without clear differentiation, it was not a commercial success. I visited the Kienzle factory in 1984 (I think) as a student on a group field trip and came across a 9000 series machine in passing. They mainly wanted to showcase their automobile technologies but I got a few questions in. What I remember of that is that it was based on the tms9900 and that it ran MTOS. They also claimed that it could "run Unix as a sub-system under MTOS". I think what that meant was that it had a C compiler and a C library that worked under MTOS. I've never found any other reference to that, maybe it was a research skunkworks project. I think the main workhorse in the 9000 series was the Kienzle 9066. I am not sure what MTOS was. It could have been an in-house development, it is also possible that it was a translated version of DX10, or something like that.

 

Later on they had the the 9100, 9200 etc. series, which I believe to have been tms99000 based (99105 most likely). In view of the timeline it is possible that the later 9x00 series used Ten-X technology, but I am speculating here.

 

It is quite likely that (Mannesmann-) Kienzle made similar steps as TI in the late 80's, switching to x86 and 68K based unix systems, with software support to run the 990 base of Cobol programs, before giving up altogether.
 

There is a list of Kienzle models here:
http://www.computer-archiv.de (go to section K, select Kienzle, for the specific page).
As Ksarul already observed, there are also MIPS machines in the list, the 2800 series.

 

Well, I'm speculating a lot here, too. 🙂

 

I assume by "true minicomputer" you mean 32-bit systems? I know the question has come up before if TI ever considered a 32-bit upgrade to the 9900 or 99K. The answer best I can determine is that no, any 32-bit uP was going to be stack and register based. Or mostly so, if you count those load-store ISA's that have memory-to-memory features, like Sparc.  The irony being that you likely could put the entire logical memory of a 990 on-die with zero waits nowadays, and cheaply. 

 

Interesting that Kienzle went with MIPS, rather than Sparc, for their RISC machines, considering the prior relationship with TI, which released  the Sparc v8 TMS390 series in '92. Maybe wasn't available when Kienzle designed the RISC Unix system.

 

If you go by price, they were certainly selling minicomputers. Here's a list I found, which actually gives some detailed insight in to the technical aspects of some of the 9000 series systems: http://www.cc-computerarchiv.de/CC-Archiv/edv-alt/ge-ditec/ge-ditec-12_90.html

 

Possibly the the workstations mentioned used the 7-XP, X-Link, and KIF file accelerator technology and were maybe PC-based? Apparenty at least some of the 9000 series machines could be clustered over serial networks. But again, I'm speculating. Don't even have any confirmation it was Kienzle that got the Ten-X stuff.

 

I'll have to take this up again later, though. Falling behind on other things.

 

jbdigriz

 

 

 

 
 
 






 

 

Edited by jbdigriz

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4 hours ago, jbdigriz said:

I assume by "true minicomputer" you mean 32-bit systems?

No, I did not mean any word length. I meant "general purpose" as opposed to hardwired to be an accounting machine.

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4 hours ago, pnr said:

No, I did not mean any word length. I meant "general purpose" as opposed to hardwired to be an accounting machine.

Gotcha, the whole "middle computer" thing that was big in Germany. In the US, outside of IBM's midrange systems, this was usually done by "vertical market integrators", like Triad in the hardware and auto parts businesses was. Weird to make an Interdata 7/32 not be general purpose, but they pretty much did.

 

I would be remiss here not to remind everyone that both VCF East and VCFB (Berlin, speaking of Germany) are hosting virtual events this weekend. One of the VCFB presenters is supposed to be showing a Triumph-Adler TA10, which is TA's name for the Diehl dds1 referenced earlier in this thread.

 

http://vcfed.org/wp/2020/10/06/vcf-east-and-vcf-berlin-are-this-weekend/

 

jbdigriz

Edited by jbdigriz
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Ehmm.... the above is the total of what I know about them.

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3 minutes ago, pnr said:

Ehmm.... the above is the total of what I know about them.

I mean, copy-posting your info on a new thread.

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Some thing like on topic...

 If you ever used DX10 or DNOS - you probably also used Df-Show, now a gentleman has rewritten that from scratch and made it available for linux.

    https://github.com/roberthawdon/dfshow

 I also wrote the company called CSI - they used to see DF-SHOW (with editor) for linux and hpux, I asked their general information email address if they would be interested in releasing that to open source.

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12 hours ago, dhe said:

Some thing like on topic...

 If you ever used DX10 or DNOS - you probably also used Df-Show, now a gentleman has rewritten that from scratch and made it available for linux.

    https://github.com/roberthawdon/dfshow

 I also wrote the company called CSI - they used to see DF-SHOW (with editor) for linux and hpux, I asked their general information email address if they would be interested in releasing that to open source.

 

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That would be nice. PM sent with a contact. Also looking for my mirror of their old ftp site. I think it may be there, already released. Lots of co.'s have turned anonymous ftp off for security reasons so I'm glad I got that one.

 

-edit: I knew there was something familiar about DF-SHOW. I haven't found my archive of the CSI unix version yet, but it and the editor were part of a package CSI called dfm, except that the file manager is called "show" and the editor "tx", and I can trace that back to the 990.  At least, there is a 9-track reread dfm tape image you can mount on your simulated tape drive in sim990. It's in the TI 990 section of a well-known, widely-mirrored, software archive. I assume the 990  version is where the CSI port came from. ISTR dfm being on my TI S1500, and I'm thinking it's exactly the same code. I would guess that the  MS-DOS programs that Thawdon's are based probably derived from the 990 versions, which bear a 1983 copyright date in said tape image. Maybe he knows more?

 

Should be able to implement it on a 4A or Geneve, for that matter. DM1000, etc. are essentially the same thing.

Edited by jbdigriz

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Ok, just looked at Thawdon's website in his history section and the TI connection is known there. It is true that TI restricted use of the software. DFM was part of something called the Integrated Software Support System toolkit. "Unauthorized use of ISSS tools is misappropriation of company records and is punishable by termination." Trying to find out more about ISSS & DPSS. Have to mount the tape and look for more clues. Curious what the whole story is. Is Kroeker still around, do you know?

Edited by jbdigriz

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So, yea for dfm - it started on the 990's and of course is very similar to TI-Writer/Editor Assembler editors.

I think you have the heritage of later versions of dfm figured out, Gleen took it and made it available for TI and later HPUX systems along with ISAMATION.

Larry Kroeker made a PC version available, at one point, I think Larry had a proto-windows version going.

I also think Larry has passed.

In the past, TI was very pragmatic about licensing. So I imagine it was as easy as say Larry talking to someone in management along the lines of:

   Larry: Do you have any plans of selling dfm in the PC market.

   TI: No

   Larry: Do you mind if I do?

   TI: No, but we get 2% royalties and maintain our original copyright.

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