Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NCD Explora 451 - MTBF 2079 A.D. ?!?!

I was corresponding with an academic I bought some more NCD devices off EBay from the other night. He followed up with an email just out of curiosity to see what I was doing with them.

When I told him the Cold War history behind the device and how the original boards were running on North Sea buoys for early detection of Soviet submarines it blew his mind. I explained to him why the board claimed a 400,000+ hour MTBF (39 years!), something no other embedded manufacturer has ever claimed for an x86/PowerPC device.

He said, "I've got an original manual here that says 800,000 hour MTBF. I think they were forced to change that figure because the U.S. regulates claims for PCs to cap it at that ceiling. The real MTBF could actually be much longer than that in reality given the components on the board."

You might as well have slapped me with a mackerel. My heart was pounding with excitement when I read this. I always had a hunch about this baby.

I have had this running as an X-Window browser for VOS so far but I am still working on getting it running correctly as the server. 80 years for possible(!) failure might as well be 500 years for some boxes.

I gotta get me some of those Russian anti-aging pills so I can see the day when this thing finally crashes running Vault-OS and requires a reboot. Then hopefully watch it for another 80 years. The maintenance costs are killing me with this hardware. 80 years? Man, I will probably be busy when it requires a reboot so I'll just automate that with some kind of watchdog.

P.S. Passive cooling, no moving parts, 12 volts draw at 0.5 amps, 250 ma in sleep mode waiting for somebody to waltz by and touch the terminal. There is apparently a hack by disconnecting the unused flash ram slot to get it even lower than that. That is with the draw of a VGA monitor connected. With new minuscule LCD VGA connected it is tiny requirements for power. This thing was designed by master engineers in the early 90's and forgotten about by the world. This hardware hails back from an era when America still had amazing engineers working for their military.


PrairieSage07 said...

Any updates on how us non-computer people can put this tech to use?

Russell said...

That's awesome on so many levels, I'm very interested in seeing how well VOS preforms on it.