maintenance demands are also lowered. In the early 1980s, it became clear that a moreversatile and intelligent interface would be needed to overcome the myriad of proprietaryinterfaces appearing at the time. By 1986, PC designers responded with the introductionof the
Small Computer System Interface
, pronounced “scuzzy”). SCSI proved to bea revolution for PC “power-users”—a single adapter could operate a number of unique de-vices simultaneously—all “daisy-chained” to the same cable. Where other “low-end” PCsneeded one adapter for hard drives, one adapter for the CD-ROM, another adapter for atape drive, etc., a system fitted with a SCSI adapter could handle all of these devices and achieve data throughputs that other interfaces of the day couldn’t even dream of.Today’s PC industry has changed. Proprietary interfaces are largely discouraged and the“standardized” interfaces (such as
, also known as
) now support a variety of devices while offering low cost and performance levels rivaling SCSI. Yet, SCSI has en-dured and evolved, and it remains the interface of choice for multitasking and high-end systems. This chapter examines the inner workings of the SCSI interface, and shows youhow to deal with installation and troubleshooting problems.
Understanding SCSI Concepts
Ideally, peripherals should be independent of the microprocessor’s operation. The com- puter should only have to send commands and data to the peripheral, and wait for the pe-ripheral to respond. Printers work this way. The parallel and serial ports are actually“device-level” interfaces. The computer is unconcerned with what device is attached tothe port. In other words, you can take a printer built 12 years ago and connect it to a newPentium-based system—and the printer will work just fine because only data and com-mands are being sent across the interface. Very simply put, this is the concept behind SCSI. Computers and peripherals can be designed, developed, and integrated withoutworrying about hardware compatibility. Such compatibility is established entirely by theSCSI interface.
From a practical standpoint, SCSI is a bus—an organization of physical wires and termi-nations, where each wire has its own name and purpose. SCSI also consists of a command set—a limited set of instructions that allow the computer and peripherals to communicateover the physical bus. The SCSI bus is used in systems that want to achieve device inde- pendence. For example, all hard-disk drives look alike to the SCSI interface (except for their total capacity), all optical drives look alike, all printers look alike, etc. For any par-ticular type of SCSI device, you should be able to replace an existing device with another device, without any system modifications. New SCSI devices can often be added to the bus with little more than a driver upgrade. Because the intelligence of SCSI resides in the peripheral device itself and not in the computer, the computer is able to use a small set of standard commands to accomplish data transfer back and forth to the peripheral. Now thatyou understand a bit about the nature of the SCSI interface, the following sections explainsome of the important terms and concepts you’ll need to know.
1148SCSI SYSTEMS AND TROUBLESHOOTING