Core MCK 15/20MHz ESDI/ST-506 (?) Adapter - @0500

Utilities Diskette (standard 1.44MB disk image, use RAWRITE or WinImage to extract..)
ZIP file, containing the same contents as the disk image.
8580-A31 Experiences
"Whatever Happened To..."

NOTE: As of this writing, the ADF available here is one of the few complete and correct ones available. UZnal's MCAbase has another, but I haven't tested it. Look here if you want to try that ADF...

Core MCK Dual ESDI Adapter


U11, 12 - Mosel MS6264AL-45SC
U19, 20, 21 - Labeled as '6002', '6004', and '6010', respectively.
U27, 28 - Labeled as '6001' and '6007', respectively.
U45 - National Semiconductor DP8456V-8
U48 - SMC 94C18 (dated 6/90?)
U49, 50 - Labeled as '6005' and '6006, respectively.
U51 - MCK BIOS ROM A Version 2.11
U52 - MCK BIOS ROM B Version 2.11
CR1 - Red surface mount LED (comes on during most drive activity)
Y1 - 20.000MHz
TP1 - Not sure..."test point 1"?

The black line indicates a soldered black wire rework of some kind. Handwritten over the "Rev C" notice on the card is a "Rev D"...perhaps the rework has something to do with this? I'm not sure what it would affect. Upon powering up, this adapter displays the type of both drives. The ROM chips on it have strings inside pertaining to ST-506 drives and the utility diskette has utilities for ST-506.

The SMC 94C18 is a Standard Microsystems MCA controller. SMC actually responded to my request for info, but they couldn't find anything on the part. Apparently it was just too old for them to have kept the documentation available on it. They did, however, make an effort to look for more info.
The DP8456 is a "disk controller" as per National Semiconductor. They did not return a response to my request for info.

The lower numbered ends of each connector above indicate the location of pin 1.

Experiences In An 8580-A31

As far as I can tell, the Core adapter appears to have been designed for systems that are much slower than the 25MHz variant of the 8580. All of the following testing was done under MS-DOS 6.22.

The system this adapter came with also had a 486 MCMaster card installed. With the MCMaster installed, reliable operation of the computer could not be obtained. All of the CORE adapter and MCMaster settings were tried in an effort to obtain reliable operation. Behavior in the various configurations ranged from random lockups, boot failure or even loss of all data and formatting of the boot drive.

The MCMaster card was removed and reliable operation of the disk subsystem was the immediate result.

Still hoping to use an upgrade, I tried to use an IBM "Blue Lightening" 486 upgrade. This upgrade is installed in place of the 386DX CPU. Because it replaces the main CPU, this upgrade could potentially resolve any 'bus hogging' issues that adapters on the MCA bus might experience. With this upgrade, the computer would boot but it froze the system up solid early on in the boot process. No data was lost during this test. Because I had a good working setup at this point, I did not try to adjust any switch settings on the Blue Lightening.

It appears that this adapter may be pushed to its limits in faster PS/2s. As a precaution, you should make a backup of your data before you upgrade your CPU. This adapter may not like such an upgrade. In my experience, you will know very soon if the disk controller cannot handle your CPU upgrade. Avoid a disaster and think before you upgrade!

Whatever Happened To...

Core International? After some digging around in the CSIPH archives, and more searching from that point onward, I have a pretty good idea. Sometime in the late 1990s, Aiwa America (yes, the same Aiwa that sells audio equipment) swallowed Core International and renamed it to Aiwa Data Product Services. Archives of the Aiwa web site show this name--and the Core International logo--being in use. Later they became known as the Aiwa Computer Systems Division. This division sold tape backup drives and disk array systems. I saw no disk controllers or standalone hard drives being offered for sale.

A general search of newsgroup postings seems to reveal that Aiwa shut down their Computer Systems Division on October 31st, 1999. Reason for the closure of this division seems to have been a result of Sony Corporation's competing products along with a 50% stake in the company. Today Aiwa's web site has no information on their computer products.

I wasn't able to find any record of a company that may have picked up the rights, support and documentation for Aiwa's computer products. If you know what (if any) company might have picked these things up, please do let me know!

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