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Old 09-29-2011, 07:45 PM   #1
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Default Interfacing with Older Computer

Hello, I apologize if this is the wrong forum section but I'm not sure exactly where this question fits.

I work in a research setting where instruments are often hooked up to prehistoric and excessively slow computers. Sometimes only the old computer has the required interface parts, and sometimes and upgrade of the interface simply costs too much. Neverteless, it would be nice to occasionally boost the performance of these machines, or maybe connect them to the internet (some only have dialup).

Question: is it possible to perhaps form a cluster of the old machine with, say, a higher-spec notebook, to make use of the original interface for controlling the scientific instruments, while improving performance in lieu of a complete system overhaul? If possible, is some specialized software needed, or is it as simple as setting up a LAN? Or would the old computers (e.g. some are running Win95 or 98) be incompatible with this setup?

Thank you
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Interfacing with Older Computer

You could set up the older systems on a LAN, if you can rustle up some old 10 meg ISA NIC cards, it could be doable. That's about all they'll need, and from the sounds of it, ISA is what they have. If you're fortunate enough that they have PCI expansion slots, then just about any NIC with Windows 9x support on them would work.

I used to use Windows 98 and then ME as a dial up host for my house before we got DSL. It's definitely doable.
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Old 10-10-2011, 11:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: Interfacing with Older Computer

Thanks, I'll try to see if I can find some of those. Though would that simply allow me to access the net via the LAN, or could I set up an actual cluster while keeping the old one's interface and boosting speed? Never done anything like that before.
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Old 10-11-2011, 02:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Interfacing with Older Computer

You would just access the net from the LAN.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: Interfacing with Older Computer

I see, thanks.

I'd still love to hear about the possibility of a cluster, if anyone has any such information.

Thank you
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Interfacing with Older Computer

Yes Zenith it is possible. Hell if you know fourier transforms you can do anything =P.

It dosen't matter, if you can get to a serial port, lan or anything that allows you to create communication channels you can do it.

Also if you want to "speed up" the older computers, you'll need a decent framework that will abstract away a problem set, that you can divide amongst the computers. However you'll need to think about the cost/benefit of the data that will need to go from A to B.. that is.. you'll need to consider if you'll be able to take a problem and break it up into peices, and if the processing on those individual peices would speed up computer A, by having B do it.... Networking can be in of itself a bottleneck too.
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