Discussion:
XKL (PDP10) Site Announcement
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Stephen M. Jones
2021-09-24 04:55:57 UTC
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Dear Fellow PDP-10 Enthusiast,

Over the past years, it's been challenging for all of us to find a place to
run our PDP-10 software. At the same time, there hasn't been a library of
PDP-10 software that is well taken care of, and made easily available to the
interested public. It also should be made clear that several organizations,
museums and individuals have significantly contributed to the recovery and
restoration of much of the "thought to be lost forever" PDP-10 code in the
past 20 years.

Kudos to you! (You know who you are).

I would like to offer another solution. I have invested in a TOAD-2 machine
running the PDP-10 architecture, and would like to make its capabilities
available. The TOAD is manufactured by XKL LLC, and is a completely new
hardware implementation of Digital's 36-bit PDP-10 architecture, not an
emulator running on another platform. This machine I've purchased will be a
repository for PDP10 public domain software, including the collection of the
DEC-10 and DEC-20 DECUS tapes.

By making access accounts available to an anyone, we hope to learn of any
issue areas with our new program. Through an account you can set up with us,
you can access this library, and run programs you may not have seen for years.
You may also submit your own programs for storage, and for use by fellow
advocates. These programs may be submitted via FTP, email or 9-track tapes.
Once you have an account established you could access KANKAN via SSH and a
special FTP pass through service. Anyone may download the libraries of
software through anonymous FTP from TWENEX.ORG.

The machine, named KANKAN, is configured as follows:
TOAD-2, 36-bit computing system
TOPS-20 system software
32 MW memory board
Too many terabytes of disk

The machine, named RANRAN, is configured as follows:
TOAD-2, 36-bit computing system
TOPS-20 system software
32 MW memory board
Too many terabytes of disk

I encourage any of you who are interested to contact us to set up an
account. To set up an account, simply click on MKACCT on the
https://twenex.org site. Further information regarding twenex.org
can be read at the 'history' link.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen used PDP10s to develop much of Microsoft's
early software. I hope many of you take advantage of this opportunity
to keep alive some of your old memories and to make new ones.


Stephen M. Jones
---
https://twenex.org
Paul Rubin
2021-09-25 08:17:14 UTC
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I have invested in a TOAD-2 machine running the PDP-10 architecture,
and would like to make its capabilities available. The TOAD is
manufactured by XKL LLC, and is a completely new hardware
implementation of Digital's 36-bit PDP-10 architecture, not an
emulator running on another platform. This machine I've purchased
will be a repository for PDP10 public domain software...
This is cool, thanks for doing it, and I didn't realize that the Toad-2
existed. Finding much info about it is non-trivial. Is it really built
around an ASIC? Or maybe an FPGA, that would be easier? When was it
built? Was there really much benefit by then of building a hardware
implementation instead of simply running an emulator? I've been
slightly interested in fooling with emulated PDP-10's for various
purposes, but have never understood the attraction of hardware
reimplementations once emulators became a lot faster than historical
10's.
Rich Alderson
2021-09-26 00:54:51 UTC
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Post by Paul Rubin
I have invested in a TOAD-2 machine running the PDP-10 architecture, and
would like to make its capabilities available. The TOAD is manufactured by
XKL LLC, and is a completely new hardware implementation of Digital's 36-bit
PDP-10 architecture, not an emulator running on another platform. This
machine I've purchased will be a repository for PDP10 public domain
software...
This is cool, thanks for doing it, and I didn't realize that the Toad-2
existed. Finding much info about it is non-trivial. Is it really built
around an ASIC? Or maybe an FPGA, that would be easier? When was it built?
Was there really much benefit by then of building a hardware implementation
instead of simply running an emulator? I've been slightly interested in
fooling with emulated PDP-10's for various purposes, but have never
understood the attraction of hardware reimplementations once emulators became
a lot faster than historical 10's.
Hmm. Start with searches in these newsgroups from the 1990s, when I was (among
other things) running sales support and customer support for XKL. Look for
posts from "***@xkl.com".

Note, please, that I have not been an employee of XKL since 2003, and do not
now speak for them in any way, official or un-.

XKL was started by Len Bosack, co-founder of cisco Systems (original spelling),
to build what was originally intended to be cisco's premier product, a desktop
PDP-10 clone which implemented things like the full 30 bit address space in
hardware. The result was the introduction, in 1995, of the XKL Toad-1 System,
an extended clone the size of a two drawer file cabinet.

The Toad-1 featured a processor roughly 2x faster than the KL-10, a 4-port
10baseT Ethernet interface, a 4-port FASTWIDE SCSI-2 interface, and a 32MW
memory card, in a 7 slot backplane. One of the tests we performed was to put 4
memory cards in, to see if our mods to TOPS-20 were correct; the system sat
there happily using 128MW and never even hiccoughed. We sold a few systems, to
MCI, Digital, and Paul Allen (as an individual, not to one of his companies);
others were gifts to friends of the company.

The XKL-1 processor board was built around an FPGA from Xilinx.

The TOAD-2 processor is a reimplementation of the Toad-1 in a single FPGA. The
primary file systems are on 2 microSD cards; the Ethernet is built in, and they
provide a NAS application which runs on Linux to allow for much more than 2GB
of user storage. The early version, which we had at Living Computers: Museum +
Labs, was labeled "TOAD-2"; the current version is embedded in their DarkStar
optical router boxes. The TOAD-2 is used as the configuration driver in their
40G/100G and faster optical networking products (where routing is done in the
fiber header, not a general purpose processor); if no networking interfaces are
detected, the system will assume that it should boot TOPS-20 instead.

They are still using (bigger, faster) FPGAs in their designs. Len has always
held that smart engineers can get the speeds they want from better designs,
instead of wasting time on ASICs which will have to be competely replaced
instead of being modified if a bug, or an enhancement, needs to be updated.

At the time we build the Toad-1 (on which I did some of the operating system
work as well as my other duties), PC clocks had not reached the 1GHz range yet,
and it was a perfectly reasonable product line, given that PDP-10 users had at
least 20 years invested in local software (like most mainframe shops, primary
software loads were local). We even ported Tops-10 to the Toad-1 for a
potential customer; no one apparently has asked for Tops-10 for the TOAD-2.
--
Rich Alderson ***@alderson.users.panix.com
Audendum est, et veritas investiganda; quam etiamsi non assequamur,
omnino tamen proprius, quam nunc sumus, ad eam perveniemus.
--Galen
Paul Rubin
2021-09-29 07:48:28 UTC
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The Toad-1 featured a processor roughly 2x faster than the KL-10...
The TOAD-2 processor is a reimplementation of the Toad-1 in a single
FPGA. The primary file systems are on 2 microSD cards... They are
still using (bigger, faster) FPGAs in their designs.
Thanks for this info! Can you say the speed of the Toad-2 relative to
the Toad-1? Do you mean to say versions of the Toad-2 are still being
built? How fast are the newest ones? Are the microSD cards anywhere
near reliable enough to use for a timesharing file system?
Len has always held that smart engineers can get the speeds they want
from better designs, instead of wasting time on ASICs
Well, true up to a point ;). Anyway, for a PDP-10 system, an FPGA
implementation can probably approach the limit of where a faster cpu is
really useful. I.e. software written on actual DECsystem 10's never
expected such speed and wasn't designed to really make use of it.
At the time we build the Toad-1 ... PC clocks had not reached the 1GHz
range yet,
I don't know how a 1ghz PC would have compared to a KL-10 if the
emulation software was carefully optimized, or what speeds the DEC Alpha
(another possible emulation host) might have gone at. The Alpha was
native 64 bit while amd64 didn't come out til a few years later. I'm
sure your group knew about the Alpha though, and made a considered
decision.

These days, large FPGA's are still super expensive, so software
emulations on conventional cpus must have significant cost advantages,
even if you have to use more of them.
Dennis Boone
2021-09-26 15:00:53 UTC
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Post by Stephen M. Jones
I would like to offer another solution. I have invested in a TOAD-2 machine
running the PDP-10 architecture, and would like to make its capabilities
available.
I'm curious -- was this a fortuitous find of an NOS or used system, or
is it somehow possible to obtain these machines new?

De
Charles Richmond
2021-10-06 20:10:28 UTC
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Post by Stephen M. Jones
Dear Fellow PDP-10 Enthusiast,
[... QUOTED MATERIAL OMITTED ...]
Post by Stephen M. Jones
TOAD-2, 36-bit computing system
TOPS-20 system software
32 MW memory board
Too many terabytes of disk
TOAD-2, 36-bit computing system
TOPS-20 system software
32 MW memory board
Too many terabytes of disk
I encourage any of you who are interested to contact us to set up an
account. To set up an account, simply click on MKACCT on the
https://twenex.org site. Further information regarding twenex.org
can be read at the 'history' link.
So I did sign up for a free account on kankan. I know my user-id but I
forgot my password. What steps can I take to reset my password???

Thanks in advance!!!
--
Charles Richmond
--
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