Amiga 500 GVP SCSI hard drive controller HD8+

Great Valley Products was a well known company making hardware accessories for the Amiga computers. They are most famous for their line of hard drive controllers and memory expansion for Amiga 500/2000 and generally for making good products.

Another reason to remember GVP is their later accelerators which only accepted their “own” memory standard which makes those products slightly unattractive on today’s international second hand market if the product offered is not already generously populated with RAM since finding the rare GVP-Simms is difficult and costly.

Anyway this is a GVP HD8+, a SCSI hard drive controller for the Amiga 500 and 500+. There used to be quite a lot of hard drive controllers available for the Amiga 500 but it seems the HD8+ is one of the more remembered models. Contrary to most other hard drive controllers for the A500, the GVP unit is shaped exactly like the Amiga shell. So it might not be the smallest external hard drive controller but it is definitely the best looking.

Externally the case has a switch on the front of the case, the switch lets the user chose between “Autoboot” and “Game”. Some games which booted of off a floppy drive did not work with a hard drive controller attached so by disabling the hard drive with the switch you did not have to remove the whole package from the 86-pin edge slot on the side. When the switch is in “Autoboot” mode the hard drive boots automatically and drops the user in Workbench 1.3+ (depending on which version of Workbench is installed on the SCSI hard drive).

On the back of the GVP HD8+ case there is a 25-pin external SCSI connector so more SCSI units could be attached. Back when SCSI was a common standard outside of server environments one of the big selling points was that you could attach up to seven devices to a SCSI cable. There where scanners, tape streamers and CD-ROM drives in SCSI format which in theory could be run from the external 25-pin port. Besides the external SCSI controller there is a small power plug for the external power supply provided with the GVP hard drive controller. The unit will not work without it. On top of the shell there are two small windows for internal LEDs, one show if power is on and the other shows hard drive activity.

Inside the case most of the space is taken up by the 3.5 inch SCSI hard drive. In this case an old 850 MB drive which is noticeable more loudly than modern SATA drives but not irritatingly loud. In front of the hard drive are a couple of jumpers and four 30-pin SIMM slots. Thankfully the GVP HD8+ uses standard 30-pin SIMM which can offer up to 8 MB combined. To the right of the hard drive there is a long pin header which was meant for a 286 bridgeboard made by GVP. When the GVP HD8+ was available you could do most typical PC tasks with a basic 286 so the possibility of having a basic IBM-PC compatible inside your multitasking Amiga Workbench was an interesting option. The jumpers over the SIMM-slots set the amount of memory installed. On the back of the hard drive there is a 50-pin pin-header for the internal SCSI cable.

The GVP HD8+ is a stable and proven hard drive controller, it is relatively easy to set up and get going and is an attractive package since it lets you expand memory up to 8 MB with relatively easy to find 30-pin SIMM memory.

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