Craig Maloney contributes the below review of a book he claims is long overdue -- the second edition of Gary Feld's The Book of SCSI. Probably it won't be long until someone is reviewing The Book of Firewire, but SCSI remains probably the most widespread standard for high-quality, reasonably priced storage. I know it's gotten better since the last time I struggled with termination issues and bad cables, but if you rely on SCSI every day, you may need this book.
What's Good?For those in a hurry, Appendix A (The All-Platform Technical Reference) is the entire book in a nutshell. I think Appendix A should be included with every SCSI card sold. It includes pin-out descriptions of the major and not-so-major SCSI interfaces, tables for bus timings, and a quick description of termination rules. The pages that surround Appendix A are also quite good.
The chapter on connecting devices to a PC talks at length about one of the more troubling aspects of SCSI; termination. Anyone who has had to troubleshoot SCSI installation problems will enjoy how thorough Chapter 6 deals with troubleshooting. (It even includes what a SCSI signal should look like on an oscilloscope). Programmers will find a Chapter with information on programming using ASPI, as well as protocol specifications for those looking for more low-level information. You'd be very hard pressed to find a more complete and readable treatment of the SCSI protocol than this book.
What's Bad?Unfortunately completeness can lead to information overload. Novice users will find themselves at a disadvantage with the sheer amount of material presented.
When discussing how to set up a SCSI adapter, the book mentions the various PC busses from the earliest IBM PC to draft revisions of PCI and everything in-between. Had I been a novice reader, I would have been overwhelmed with all the information about historical PC busses that are no longer in use. (When was the last time you used VLB or EISA?) In the interest of completeness, the authors also include a chart comparing these interfaces. I question whether this is really necessary. Some may also be put off by the hand-drawn diagrams in the earlier chapters.
On the CD
The CD includes items such as the SCSI FAQ, ASPI Development Files, ASPI tar, SCSI disk driver source for MSDOS, Western Digital SCSI Utilities, SCSITool, Postmark I/O benchmark source code, and Linux SCSI information. Of note, the CD also includes a PDF file of the entire book.
What's in it for me?
The Book of SCSI is definitely written by SCSI enthusiasts. On the early pages, the authors include a bit of SCSI poetry, and the CD includes a text file entitled "SCSI: A Game With Many Rules and No Rulebook?". This book reads with an excitement only an enthusiast can project. If you have ever been curious about SCSI, I encourage you to sit down and read the first few chapters of this book. If you are in a position to use SCSI components more than occasionally, I recommend you purchase this book and keep it on your reference shelf for those times when troubleshooting is necessary.
My biggest complaint? I wish the authors had written this book ten years ago. However, it is still a welcome addition to my library today.
- Chapter Listing
- Chapter 1: Welcome to SCSI
- Chapter 1.5: A Cornucopia of SCSI Devices
- Chapter 2: A Look at SCSI-3
- Chapter 3: SCSI Anatomy
- Chapter 4: Adding SCSI to Your PC
- Chapter 5: How to Connect Your SCSI Hardware
- Chapter 6: Troubleshooting Your SCSI Installation
- Chapter 7: How the Bus Works
- Chapter 8: Understanding Device Drivers
- Chapter 9: Performance Tuning Your SCSI Subsystem
- Chapter 10: RAID: redundant Array of Independent Disks
- Chapter 11: A Profile of ASPI Programming
- Chapter 12: The Future of SCSI and Storage in General
- Appendix A: All-Platform Technical Reference
- Appendix B: PC Technical Reference
- Appendix C: A Look at SCSI Test Equipment
- Appendix D: ATA/IDE versus SCSI
- Appendix E: A Small ASPI Demo Application
You can purchase this book at Fatbrain.