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Old 08-02-2017, 12:53 PM   #1
DaddyNate
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Interest in SPARC


While looking around for non-Intel workstations, I came across the "Talos" workstation - obviously there was enough interest in a PPC workstation to warrant such a product.

My question is whether or not such interest exists for a SPARC workstation.

I do realise the SPARCstations were historically cost prohibitive (which is why I never managed to get one for myself back when Sun Microsystems still existed), so would this still be the primary factor, or is there simply no interest?
 
Old 08-02-2017, 05:30 PM   #2
jefro
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Hello and welcome to LQ.

Just before Sun sold out they were leasing a standalone box you installed outside of your server farm. They claimed to reduce energy to the point that the box was almost free. The box came with full server room setup. Just add lan and power. So by that measure the SPARC is really a good thing. As with Alpha processors, just because it is a good thing doesn't mean folks will buy it.

There are sparc's being sold still. SPARC is open to some extent.http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/sy...arc/index.html

Since Sun and Oracle didn't have much luck selling a it, I'd think there is a limited customer base for it. The current darling is ARM.
 
Old 08-02-2017, 05:59 PM   #3
smallpond
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I used to have a RedHat distro for SPARCstation on floppy. I'm sure you can dig it up somewhere. Used models are quite cheap now.
 
Old 08-02-2017, 06:15 PM   #4
DaddyNate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefro View Post
There are sparc's being sold still. SPARC is open to some extent.http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/sy...arc/index.html

Since Sun and Oracle didn't have much luck selling a it, I'd think there is a limited customer base for it. The current darling is ARM.
The only SPARC's I can find being sold are all servers - while that doesn't necessary disqualify it as something I could use as as desktop, the price is especially high.

And I agree Sun/Oracle (and even Fujistsu) failed to attract enough interest, but I'm curious if with the growth in popularity of other operating systems there might be room now for these alternate products.

It's funny you mention Alpha - another workstation I wanted but could never afford :P

Final note - I've already looked around for ARM-based workstations with limited luck there, too. I honestly couldn't say why I'm interested in getting something other than Intel/AMD: maybe I'm just bored.
 
Old 08-02-2017, 10:31 PM   #5
jefro
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I almost bought an Alpha system for my house. One company was selling the box with a software that would allow native alpha to run windows. At work we had and still have some Alpha boxes. Might be 25 years old and still working.

I also almost bought a Sun workstation for my house.

Lucky for me I didn't waste money on those.

Forgot about Fujitsu. I think they or someone ended up with half the DEC stuff with HP the other half.

Every one is talking about ARM. I assume now that windows claims to have a full working copy of their OS they will begin to market some models soon. Never know. Plenty of power in game units and can't figure out why they don't market them to desktop. Guess it is true they make their money on games not the game unit.

I think Nvidia has about the only good choice for ARM based desktop.
 
Old 08-02-2017, 11:00 PM   #6
Turbocapitalist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaddyNate View Post
And I agree Sun/Oracle (and even Fujistsu) failed to attract enough interest, but I'm curious if with the growth in popularity of other operating systems there might be room now for these alternate products.
They appear to have gone out of their way to not attract that interest. Last time I bought some SPARC-based hardware, I had to pull strings higher up in another country to get the local reseller to let me make an order. Something weird happened with Ellison after the US stopped even pretending to enforce anti-trust laws. Instead of letting their main competitor, M$, have it with both barrels, Ellison just backed off -- way off -- and actually seems to be helping Gates these days.

For what it's worth, he also bought up the makers of BerkeleyDB and the company InnoDB. ...

Anyway, Tadpole used to sell some portable-ish SPARC hardware but when they got bought out by (or sold out to) General Dynamics, an M$ shop, they seem to have disappeared. The interest, I think has been there, but key players in the market have decided that only buggy, back-doored, x86 will do.

We'll see how long MIPS and ARM will last. China was interested in MIPS or MIPS-like processors but their interest co-incided with an apparent drop in availability.

Last edited by Turbocapitalist; 08-02-2017 at 11:17 PM.
 
Old 08-02-2017, 11:41 PM   #7
onebuck
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Moved: This thread is more suitable in <General> and has been moved accordingly to help your thread/question get the exposure it deserves.
 
Old 08-03-2017, 11:17 AM   #8
Soadyheid
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You can still get Gentoo for Sparc. I had an Ultra 2 and an Ultra 5 with it installed until recently.

The Ultra 2 was a solid no-nonsence box with a couple of 64 bit 400Mhz UltraSparc II processors (Wow! 400Mhz! Needed a man with a red flag to walk in front of it!!) I think I had something like 32Mb of memory, a couple of 9.1Gb SCSI disks and a Creator3D video frame buffer. I spent a good few months way back in 2006 installing Gentoo,eventually getting to the point where I remembered to include the SCSI interface in the Kernel compilation. The Gentoo compile was an overnight thing so forgetting to include something in the Kernel config became a bit wearing but I got there in the end! I learned more about Linux building the Ultra 2 than I have with any X86 box, a really brilliant experience!

The Ultra 5 was always a bit of a flakey box in my estimation as the motherboard caps tended to age and bulge at the end resulting in lots of weird unexpected faults, crashes and failures. It had the same system board as the Ultra 10 but the memory was limited to 512Mb as you couldn't physically fit 256Mb DIMMs; they fouled an internal frame.

I'm afraid I've no idea about the newer Oracle systems, only played with the Enterprise and Ultra systems.

You can check out Ye Olde Sun System handbook (2003) here if you're interested.

I notice that Ebay still has some of this older kit for sale but Very pricey. Sheesh! My boxes ended up it the reclaim skip! I needed the space they took up for my 3D printer. Oh well! Happy Days!

Good luck with your project!

Play Bonny!

 
Old 08-03-2017, 12:05 PM   #9
DavidMcCann
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turbocapitalist View Post
We'll see how long MIPS and ARM will last.
Microsoft must be hoping that ARM will last, since they've just arranged to manufacture ARM processors!
 
Old 08-06-2017, 04:15 AM   #10
MadeInGermany
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Yes, the Ultra-5 and -10's weak point was the CPU daughterboard where low-quality capacitors often blow after 2 years of operation, and memory timing is a bit critical, too.
Get a Blade-1500 silver! (Or Blade-2500 silver, dual-CPU capable.)
It's a nice looking box though a bit noisy, very solid; its weakest part is the ATX power supply.
 
Old 08-06-2017, 03:53 PM   #11
rigor
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I've got some old SPARC machines sitting around. The BUS used with some of the Sun's was interesting, I had a chance to read the handbook on the BUS; probably fair to say a decent speed for the time, but seemingly a lot of overhead. AFAIK, at one point in the history of SPARC based machines, there were some that were a lot closer than usual to the X86 based PC's, in that the usual peripherals had been replaced with the same sort of things that were generally used in x86 based machines, but the machine still used a SPARC processor.

- Segue to general thought on personal computer history, not a comment about SPARC machines -

With the direct addressing of all memory, and the orthogonal instruction set of some of the National Semiconductor chips in the 1980's, I have to wonder if the parts/etc. hadn't been so expensive, if personal computer technology could have evolved so much faster, than with all the kludges ( perhaps in some cases brilliant kludges, but still kludges ) needed to overcome what I feel were various limitations of the x86 based stuff.

Last edited by rigor; 08-06-2017 at 05:44 PM. Reason: Clarify context of second paragraph
 
Old 08-06-2017, 05:30 PM   #12
Soadyheid
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Quote:
The BUS used with some of the Sun's was interesting,
Sun 3 architecture used the Motorpla 68000 series processors and used their propitiatory S-Bus to connect things such as network cards, SCSI cards, fibre Soc and GBIC cards. The same S-Bus was used in the Enterprise systems from the E150 up to E6800. (I gave up playing with them after that.) The Ultra 5 and subsequent systems moved on to using PCI cards though Sun obviously wanted you to purchase their version rather than some generic board. My Ultra 5 had a cheapo generic 4 port USB card fitted which worked fine under Gentoo.
S-Bus was mainly used as an I/O bus.

My

Play Bonny!

 
  


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