I've had a similar project in the works for a while (mainly for ESDI and SMD).

I think the main issue you're going to face is that what you need to do for something like ESDI or SMD (or any of the bit serial interfaces) is going to be radically different than something like IDE or SCSI.  This is not just the interface signals but also what's needed in the FPGA as well as the embedded SW.

For example, for the ESDI and SMD interface in order to meet the head switch times (1-2 microseconds) requires that a full cylinder be cached in HW.  Once you do that and look at the timings to move a max cylinder between the HW cache (that will serialize/de-serialize the data over the interface) and storage, you'll see that the only way to have any reasonable performance (e.g. not have seek times be > 40ms for *any* seek) is to cache the entire drive image in DRAM and lazily write back dirty tracks.

I've been looking at the Xylinx Zynq SoCs for this (mainly the Zynq 7020 for single drive emulation and the Zynq Ultrascale+ for up to 4 drives).  In my case the HW, FPGA logic and SW will share significant portions but they will not be identical.  In my case there is no need for an external PC (just adds complexity) other than something to do basic configuration (e.g. drive parameters such as number of heads, number of cylinders, etc) which will actually be over USB/serial.  The actual persistent storage will be an SD card since all reading will be done at "boot time" and writes will be handled in a lazy manner (since the writes will first go to the DRAM based upon time or seek).

It may also be sufficient for configuration purposes to have a file (text) on the SD card that defines the configuration so no external interactions would be necessary.  I'm still thinking about that one.  ;-)

TTFN - Guy

On 4/12/22 22:35, shadoooo via cctech wrote:
I'm a decent collector of big iron, aka mini computers, mainly DEC and DG.
I'm often facing common problems with storage devices, magnetic discs and tapes 
are a little prone to give headaches after years, and replacement drives/media 
in case of a severe failure are unobtainable.
In some cases, the ability to make a dump of the media, also without a running 
computer is very important.

Whence the idea: realize an universal device, with several input/output 
interfaces, which could be used both as storage emulator, to run a computer 
without real storage, and as controller emulator, to read/write a media without 
a running computer.
To reduce costs as much as possible, and to allow the better compatibility, the 
main board shall host enough electrical interfaces to support a large number of 
disc standard interfaces, ideally by exchanging only a personality adapter for 
each specific interface, i.e. connectors and few components.

There are several orders of problems:
- electrical signals, number and type (most disk employ 5V TTL or 3.3V TTL, 
some interfaces use differential mode for some faster signals?)
- logical implementation: several electrical signals are used for a specific 
interface. These must be handled with correct timings
- software implementation: the universal device shall be able to switch between 
interface modes and be controlled by a remote PC

I suppose the only way to obtain this is to employ an FPGA for logic 
implementation of the interface, and a microprocessor running Linux to handle 
software management, data interchange to external (via Ethernet). This means a 
Xilinx Zynq module for instance.
I know there are several ready devices based on cheaper microcontrollers, but 
I'm sure these can't support fast and tight timing required by hard disk 
interfaces (SMD-E runs at 24MHz).

The main board should include a large enough array of bidirectional 
transceivers, possibly with variable voltage, to support as much interfaces as 
possible, namely at least Shugart floppy, ST506 MFM/RLL, ESDI, SMD, IDE, SCSI1, 
DEC DSSI, DEC RX01/02, DG6030, and so on, to give a starting point.
The common factor determining what kind of disc interface can be support on 
hardware side is obviously the type of transceiver employed, for instance a 
SATA would require a differential serial channel, which could not be available.
But most old electronic is based on TTL/CMOS 5V logic, so a large variety of 
computer generations should be doable.

For the first phase, I would ask you to contribute with a list of interfaces 
which could be interesting to emulate, specially if these are similar to one 
from my list.
I please submitters to send me by email or by web link when possible, detailed 
documentation about the interface they propose, so I can check if it could be 
doable and what kind of electrical signals are needed.
Also detailed information about interfaced I listed is appreciated, as could 
give some detail I'm missing.


TTFN - Guy

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