MSV11-Q info and interesting observation

Noel Chiappa jnc at
Sat Mar 14 15:12:32 CDT 2020

So, a while back someone had a broken MSV11-Q QBUS memory card, and needed
info on them. I said I'd provide same, but then got distracted. Well, I
finally got to it, and it's been added to the CHW page for them:

It includes a table which says which chip each bit in the memory is stored
in (which is what one needs to fix one which is basically working, but has
some bad bits).

While working out that table, I ran into a hitch, which is a good part of why
it took so long. The hitch, when solved, revealed something mildly interesting.

The hitch was in my process for finding out which bit was stored in which chip.
I whipped up a simple loop to store a word with a single '1' bit, and the
rest 0's; I set that running, and used a 'scope probe on the DIn pins to find
out which column of chips held bit 0, etc. So far, so good. I then looked on the
-Wr pin, to find out which row of chips held which banks.

Not so good! There were pulses on -Wr for _all_ the banks, no matter which
address I tried to write to.

Eventually I worked out what was going on: when writing data, the MSV11-Q
sends a 'write' signal to _all_ the banks, and selects the one to _actually_
use by use of the RAS signal. I'm not certain why DEC did this, but since
there is no explicit 'read' signal on the DRAM chip, and likely the data
outputs from all the banks are wire-OR'd together, use of RAS to select the
desired bank works for read, and also for write.

Has anyone else seen this trick used anywhere else?


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