Some CDC computer hardware characteristics

Here is some of the Control Data Corporation (CDC) computer equipment and its specifications listed that was in use at the TNO Physics Laboratory between the seventies and nineties.

Type/Model Description
CDC 7054
CDC 7154
Disk controller.
Controls up to 8 disk storage drives, connects to one standard 6000 I/O channel. Two mass storage controllers were required for dual access operation. Minimum configuration will have two disk storage units.
CDC 7165-21

Disk (or FMD) controller.
Controls up to 8 disk storage spindles (four drives) of 885 disk units. Two mass storage controllers were required for dual access operation. Minimum configuration will have two disk storage units. Size (w x d x h): 0,74 m x 0,64 m x 1,68 m; weight: 159 kg.

(photo courtesy Fredy Ferrari, Fides, CH)

CDC 854 Removeable pack disk drive. 8.2 M 6-bit characters per pack 30 to 165 ms positioning time; sectors of 256 characters. Used as CDC 3200 system disk.
CDC 844-21 Removeable pack disk drive. 110 M 6-bit characters per pack; 644 characters per sector and 24 sectors per track; 404 tracks; 10 to 55 ms positioning time; average access of 38.2 ms; 3600 rpm; nominal transfer rate of 921,600 chars/sec or 6.8 Mbps. Not all disk controllers could handle this transfer rate, so in the early dates 1:2 sector interleaving was used. Required 881 disk packs with 19 data and one (pre-formatted) servo surface. Size (w x d x h): 0,56 m x 1,14 m x 1,00 m; weight: 318 kg.

We almost never removed any of these packs, even during "system time" (testing). Only for system maintenance and test time for system programmers, another disk set was mounted.

When a disk crash occured, spectacular noises arose from the spindle combined with brown 'smoke' (the magnetic layer).

CDC 844-41 Removeable pack disk drive. 237 M 6-bit characters per pack or 1422 Mbits; average access of 38.2 ms; nominal transfer rate of 921,600 chars/sec; 6300 rpm. A double-density version of the 844-21. Size (w x d x h): 0,56 m x 1,14 m x 1,00 m; weight: 318 kg.
CDC 885-12 Winchester disk unit containing two independent spindles with non-removable head/ disk assemblies (hda). Cyber 170 sectored capacity of 4152 million bits or 692 million six bit characters per spindle, for a total of 1.384 billion characters per disk unit. Positioning time is 10 to 50 ms, 25 ms average. 9.58 million bits per second burst transfer rate. 3600 rpm. Size (w x d x h): 1,07 m x 0,85 m x 1,13 m; weight: 490 kg.
CDC 895-1 895 disk unit, 2 of the 4 spindles visible Winchester disk unit containing four independent spindles with non-removable head/ disk assemblies (hda). Total capacity of 2.444 Mbyte (8 bits). Burst transfer rate 24 Mbps. Positioning time is 16 ms average. Unit size (w x d x h): 1,42 m x 0,81 m x 1,56 m; weight: 635 kg.
CDC 9730 CYBER 930 integrated tape/disk subsystem (on photo on top of the left cabinet). 414 MB/disk; 960 tracks; 15 kbits/inch; 12 data surfaces/7 platters; 47 sectors/track; 24 tracks/cylinder; 700 cylinders; 14.5 Mbps burst data rate; 20 ms average positioning time; 3600 rpm.
Tape deck: 25 ips start/stop mode; 75 ips streaming mode; 1600 and 6250 cpi; max. 468 kB/s transfer rate.
CDC 7021

Magnetic Tape controller.
Single channel connection to one control. Permits read/write on any one of eight CDC Model 667 and 669 (intermixed) Tape Units. Contains a programmable processor. Will read/write 556/800 characters per inch NRZI recording and 1600 characters per inch Phase Encoded. Will read 200 characters per inch NRZI.
Size (w x d x h): 0,74 m x 0,64 m x 1,68 m; weight: 159 kg.

Controlware had to be loaded first (cold start) using the card reader and a deadstart panel program that dumped the bits in the card images directly into the tape controller's firmware memory.

CDC 667-2 A single-capstan unit, 7-track, 556 CPI and 800 CPI NRZI Recording. Transfer rates of 55.6K and 80K 6-bit characters per second. Tape speed 100 inches per second. Forward and reverse read. Rewind time of a full 2400ft reel is 60 seconds.
CDC 669-2 A single-capstan unit, 9-track, 800 CPI NRZI Recording and 1600 cpi Phase encoded recording. Transfer rates of 80K and 160K 6-bit characters per second. Tape speed 100 inches per second. Forward and reverse read. Rewind time is 60 seconds. One had to thread the end of the tape to the fixed reel. Then, the 66x-series units loaded - by means of underpressure - the tape into the loop boxes after pushing Start buttons.
CDC 679-200 679 tape units 9-track tape drive. 200 ips at 800, 1600 or 6250 chars/inch. The units were very fast, but initially very sensitive to the correct adjustment of the loop colums sensors. Each unit had a large size 'vacuum cleaner' motor that delivered the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the tape in the loop columns. This allowed fast movement of the tape across the head while the reels could start or stop much slower. The 67x-series units automatically loaded and threaded the tape after pushing the Close Window and Start buttons. It automatically opened the tape enclosure. Size (w x d x h): 0,77 m x 0,76 m x 1,61 m; weight: 408 kg.
CDC 6681 Data Channel Converter, which permitted 3000 series peripheral equipment to be attached to 6000 series channel.
CDC 405 CDC 405 card reader. Famous from many "computer room" movie shots in the nineteen-sixties and early seventies. The card reader was attached to a mainframe channel via a 6681 Data channel converter.
Reads 1200 cards/minute for 80 column cards, reads1600 cards/minute for 51 column cards (after flipping an end stop). 4000 card hopper capacity, 4000 card stacker capacity, 240 card secondary stacking capacity for limited sorting or projecting.
The flat bed hopper and stacker allowed a large number of cards to be fed in a continuous stream. It was fabulous to see the cards fast turn around the array of light detectors in front of the projector lamp and the optics.
CDC 501 Drum printer, printed 1000 lpm using 48 characters only, 800 lpm using all 64 characters, skips 25 inches per second, 6 lines per inch, 136 columns, modified standard gothic font. Manual switch allows printing at half speed.
Special punched tape was required to signal "channel" jump, e.g. channel 1 jump was top-of-page (ref. Fortran first character output codes). Reasonably good quality output.
CDC 580-1200 580 chain-style printer Chain-style line printer, attached to mainframe channel. 800 lines/minute with 48 character train, 136 columns with 6 or 8 lines per inch spacing. Paper advance single line 11 ms (6 lpi) or 10 ms (8 lpi). Included a powered stacker, train image storage. Skip rate: 70 inch/sec. Required a train cartridge, either 64 character set or 94 character ASCII set.
Used constantly. Reasonably good quality output. Size (w x d x h): 1,57 m x 1,17 m x 1,32 m; weight: 680 kg.

A channel control (paper) tape was used to skip paper to top of form (channel 1), bottom page and any other channel. These paper tapes were hand punched and than glued as a ring. An optical reader read the channels as the paper tape was moving in parallel with the printer page. Later printers only read the channel tape when powering up and stored the tape image in a memory.
CDC 585-200 585 band-style printerBand-style line printer, attached to a CDCnet device interface. In our case to a MDI using a Centronics interface. 2000 lines/minute, 132 columns with 6 or 8 lines per inch spacing, 2.5 m/s page skip speed. Size (w x d x h): 1,10 m x 0,90 m x 1,25 m; weight: 325 kg.
CDC 6671 Data Set Controller. Controls 1 to 16 AT&T 103 (110 bits per second) or AT&T 201 (200O or 2400 bits per second) data sets equivalent, or any combination of these. Attaches to one standard 6000 channel. At he remote sites terminal devices using compatible data sets may be used.
This was shorthand for a 16-port communications multiplexor. Used for remote batch stations, known as EI200 (Export/Import) stations and a limited number of asynchronous lines (110-600 bd).
The 6671 was driven by a spaghetti PP program 1MR. For systems programmers the ultimate "man or boy" test.
CDC 2551 Communications processor. Design was based upon a CYBER 18 minicomputer equiped with large communication line adapter cards. PP code 1ND drove this system. To compile data communication software, one had to compile seven hundred pages of PASCAL 1 code, run a microcode assembler program, cross-link System 17 code on the Cyber, map 16 bits code into 6 bits bytes and map that to PP data channel format; a very lengthy process taking a couple of hours Cyber processor time.
CDC's hardware description for the 2551 was: "Entry level communication processor with limited line termination capacity for computer front end or remote processor applications. Includes 32k words of 16 bit MOS memory (expandable to 128k words), cabinet, loop multiplexer and capacity to house up to 16 cla's (not included), power supply, maintenance panel, cassette tape controller, cassette tape drive and cyclic redundancy check sum module. Required console, plus channel coupler (2558-3 or 2558-4 or 10344-1) for front-end applications or autostart module cassette (2580-4) for remote applications."

Each 2560-1 CLA provided two modem connections to EIA RS232C lines at speeds up to 9,600 bits per second. The 2561-1 provided connection to EIA RS232C or CCITT V.24 interface standards.
CDCNET Standard boxes that could be configured as one liked using large and small cards:
  • MDI: the Mainframe Device Interface using a mainframe channel interface card (2621-211).
  • NDI: the Network Device Interface delivering gateway services, e.g. the TCP/IP to/from (native) XNS and (later) OSI conversion services.
  • TDI: Terminal Device Interface, having a number of Line Interface Modules (LIMs) to hook up asynchronous, synchronous and Unit Record Equipment (URI) lines (printer, card reader, plotter). (type 2622-201 equipment)

Inside of a device interface (DI)
Courtesy F. Ferrari, Fides, CH

Backside of a DI
Courtesy F. Ferrari, Fides, CH

Large DI-boards
Courtesy F. Ferrari, Fides, CH

Unit size without functional cards (w x d x h): 0,43 m x 0,46 m x 0,35 m; weight: 16kg.

CDC 713-10 Terminal (Note the detailed description as compared to other equipment!)
Includes 8 lines of 80 characters displayed on a 10-inch wide by 8-inch high viewing area of a 15-inch (diagonal) CRT screen, electronic keyboard with standard teletype layout including additional controls plus 10 key including additional controls plus 10 key numeric cluster, 96 ASCII alphanumerics and symbols plus 32 ANSI control codes. RS232-C interface designed for asynchronous data transmission at 7S, 110, 150 and 300 BPS. Features include cursor control- up, down, right, left, home, start, stop, inverse video (black on white), roll or page format, non-destructive blinking cursor (!), 5 x 9 dot matrix using standard 525 line tv raster, 60 hz refresh rate, MOS semi-conductor memory, tri-level Keyboard, character size (nominal) 25 inch high, 125 inch wide, provision for hardcopy, switch selection - full or half duplex, odd, even, or no parity; keyboard lockout, remote-local (test) roll-page format.
CDC 6414

Sixty-bit word size, 65,536 words of magnetic core storage with a minor clock cycle of 100 nanoseconds and a major cycle of 1000 nanoseconds; 10 peripheral and control processors each with 4,096 12-bit words of independent magnetic core storage working at a speed of 1000 nanoseconds, twelve 12-bit data channels at a speed of one 12-bit word per 1000 nanoseconds, floating-point hardware, 8 operand, 8 addressing and 8 increment registers, central processor interrupt through exchange jump option, includes logic coupler for addition of extended core storage and required power and cooling equipment (water cooled). The 6612 desk console with dual crt, 10 x 10 inch display area, includes typewriter keyboard and associated controller.

Link to the configurator from 1966.

CDC CYBER 74 Sixty bit word size, one multi-function central processor with 131,072 words of central memory, 10 peripheral and control processors each with 4,096 12-bit words of independent magnetic core storage, twelve 12-bit data channels. Floating-point hardware, 8 operand, 8 addressing and 8 increment registers, central processor interrupt through exchange jump logic, includes two adapters for 3000 series data channels, system console, 64-bit interlock register and required power and cooling equipment (water cooled).
Sixty bit word size, 524,288 (up to 2M) words of semi-conductor storage with error correction code. Ten (fifteen or twenty) peripheral processors, each with 4096 12-bit (plus one parity bit) words of storage. Processor includes 2048 words of cache memory, floating point hardware, eight addressing, eight operand and eight increment registers. Central processor interrupt through exchange jump. Twelve (or 24) 12-bit (plus one parity bit) data channels. Includes system console and required cooling equipment; chilled water required. Included a 18001-1 data channel converter (conversion 170 channel to 3000 channel). Includes dual-state mode. 250 microsecond minor cycle.
CDC 840A

Single processor, cache of 2048 words; 16 Mbyte memory (upto 128 Mbyte); 10-15 or 20 PPs, 12 or 24 Cyber 170 I/O channels. The CPU dissipated 1182 W, the memory 406 W and the IOU 797 W; the remainder of the heat (24660 W) was transfered to the chiller unit.

CPU size (w x d x h): 1,32 m x 0,71 m x 1,93 m; Memory unit size (w x d x h): 0,73 m x 0,76 m x 1,93 m; IOU size (w x d x h): 1,09 m x 0,76 m x 1,93 m;

Single processor, 64 bits, virtual state only, 40 registers, 32 MB (could be 64 MB), 80 MB/sec memory transfer rate, PPs 16Kword 16 bits, 5 or 10 I/O processors, 3 (6) ICI and 3 (6) IPI channels
Single, pipelined CPU chip with 400 connects on a 44 layer CPU board with 20,000 1.5 mil drill holes; clock speed 24 nanosec. Peak: 146 MFlops. CPU memory: 4 Mwords* 64 bits shared memory. This memory interacted with the main or common memory of 8 MWords* 64 bits.


(with special thanks to Mark Riordan who provided the basis for this page)


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