Off the shelf computer with a legacy PCI 2.0 slot?
March 6, 2015 1:48 PM   Subscribe

My lab is trying to replace a computer (Pentium 4, Windows 2000) that controls, and gets data from, a large mechanical testing machine. The problem is, the software needs this PCI 2.0 (possibly 2.1 or 2.2) data capture card on the computer. We can't make purchases from ebay or amazon, so that limits buying a used computer. Are there any new computers that have legacy PCI slots? Or is my only option building a pc that has a motherboard with legacy slots?
posted by Dipped Pretzels to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
The Dell Optiplex XE2 has a legacy PCI slot. We have an XE at my work and it's always treated us well. You'd have to double-check the PCI version, but their site says:
Deploy with flexibility through multiple chassis options. Select the small form factor (SFF) chassis, optimized for constrained workspaces or the expandable mini tower (MT) with support for legacy PCI cards.
posted by pocams at 2:09 PM on March 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Can you buy from Newegg? There's this one and similar. Then there's general searching for "PCI slot" and/or "PCI riser".
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:07 PM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't trust anything to have legacy PCI slots unless you can verify with a hi-res pic of the motherboard. Typos and other mistakes are more common than legacy PCI these days.

You can still find machines with legacy PCI, but you will have to do a fair bit of searching. Also you might want to push back on that policy forbidding ebay and amazon. Your org is being dumb by banning the best sources for the obsolete legacy devices you apparently require.
posted by ryanrs at 3:43 PM on March 6, 2015

There are PCI Express to PCI Enclosure Systems (though the linked one is quite expensive) and even USB to PCI systems, though you are beholden to driver support.

(you have my sympathies; used to have to run a USB to ISA card to keep the control system of an well-known power station running ...)
posted by scruss at 4:07 PM on March 6, 2015

In addition to external enclosures, there are also PCI express to PCI Adapters, right angle risers, and adapters with flex cables.
posted by bradf at 5:37 PM on March 6, 2015

You'll want to check the voltage compatibility of your card and whatever you end up buying. You can usually tell with the notches, but get written spec confirmation if possible.
posted by Standard Orange at 9:44 PM on March 6, 2015

the software needs this PCI 2.0 (possibly 2.1 or 2.2) data capture card on the computer.

What does that card look like, both from Windows's point of view and from that of the mechanical testing machine?

Reason I ask is that I recently got involved with rescuing a legacy numerically-controlled routing table when its ISA/Windows 98 based controlling PC eventually went belly-up, and though it was impossible to find any of (a) a replacement mobo with ISA slots (b) a version of the undocumented proprietary ISA interface card for any more modern mobo (c) a version of the proprietary controller software compatible with both the legacy table and any later version of Windows or (d) Windows 98 drivers for almost any modern mobo, we got the job done.

Turned out that Windows saw the proprietary ISA card as serial port COM3, and the machine saw it as a powered 20mA current loop transceiver. We replaced the ISA card with a current loop to RS232 converter driven from a USB to RS232 cable, configured a VirtualBox virtual machine to expose the USB serial thing as COM3 to the VM, and installed Windows 98 on that. It's a bit Rube Goldberg but it works fine and is pretty much future-proof.

You may have more options than at first seem apparent.
posted by flabdablet at 2:13 AM on March 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

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