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Vintage Computer

Why a Cray YMP-EL lost its sense of time…

Our Cray YMP-EL encountered persistent booting issues, consistently resetting its time to a date in 1969 and experiencing sporadic panics leading to an unexpected shutdown into the IOS. The culprit? The DALLAS DS1216 F Chip, a crucial component serving as both the clock and CMOS chip. Despite assurances from the vendor of a decade-long lifespan, our machine, now three decades old, revealed the inevitable failure of its 3.3V battery. Taking matters into our own hands, we opted to desolder the entire chip from the board, carefully maneuvering around the glued-in battery. Utilizing a Dremel tool, we skillfully severed the battery’s ground connection, proceeding to solder two wires into the designated spots and connecting them to a fresh 3.3V battery. Miraculously, the system sprang back to life, albeit requiring a reset of the date and time within the IOP system.

For a visual journey through the process, please refer to the accompanying images.