Introduction...

Started by AStar617, May 10, 2007, 07:35:57 PM

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AStar617

Hi Everyone...

I just stumbled across this forum, and think I'll be hanging out for a while. I'm a Technical Support Engineer for Sun hardware/software for a living, and have a pretty good sized vintage UNIX hardware collection with a focus on Sun--I've got everything from 68010-based Sun-2s up through UltraSPARC-III+ based Sun Blade 2000s. (Currently, the following platforms are represented in my collection: SunOS/68k, SunOS/SPARC, SunOS/x86, Solaris/SPARC, Solaris/x86, Solaris/PowerPC, HP-UX/PA-RISC, AIX/PowerPC, VMS/VAX, DEC Ultrix, SGI IRIX, Apple A/UX, Amiga AMIX... etc... :))

Anyways I'm naturally interested in running NeXTSTEP on SPARC. The first time I saw a NeXT box was in a textbook my mother had while in a continuing ed degree program in the very early 90s. I thought it was the coolest box. Within the past year, I did manage to rescue a color slab, bare and in unknown condition (I know it needs a disk at least). Seeing as how I have a waist-high stack of SS4s/5s/20s and the 3.3 RISC distro, I know I'll get NeXTSTEP running on Sun hardware before black :)

After some deliberation, I've decided to go with a 110MHz SS5, 256mb RAM, and dual 4gb disks. I also have enough SBus framebuffers and Sun monitors to configure as many heads as the platform/OS combo will allow :D I look forward to keeping the group posted on how things go, or tugging on a few sleeves here and there if I run into trouble.

In the meantime, if anyone has any questions about any and all things Sun, feel free to post and I'll do my best to help. Keep in mind, though, that right now I probably know less NS-specific info than you do :lol:

Regards,

-A
NeXTstation color slab: still in surgery | SPARCstation 5/110: 128mb, 4gb, 3xCG6, NS3.3risc | HP 712/60: still in surgery | Plus too many Suns to list

dlundh

Welcome!

Keep in mind that only SuperSPARC CPUs will do.

And if you happen to have a SuperSPARC that's faster than 50MHz and feel generous I'd graciously accept it as a gift. ;)

AStar617

Quote from: "dlundh"Welcome!

Keep in mind that only SuperSPARC CPUs will do.

And if you happen to have a SuperSPARC that's faster than 50MHz and feel generous I'd graciously accept it as a gift. ;)

Thanks for the welcome.

My understanding was that SuperSPARC and MicroSPARC were supported, but the HyperSPARC was not. I'm going with the SS5 over SS20 because the SuperSPARC tops out at 85mhz instead of the MicroSPARC's 110MHz, and a 2nd thru 4th CPU in a SS20 is ignored by NS. Is that not accurate? I've never done speed comparisons to see if the 85MHz SuperSPARC actually outperformed the 110MHz MicroSPARC.
NeXTstation color slab: still in surgery | SPARCstation 5/110: 128mb, 4gb, 3xCG6, NS3.3risc | HP 712/60: still in surgery | Plus too many Suns to list

nextchef

From the "A Guide to Sun Hardware for NextStep"

QuoteBottom line: runs only on Sun4m architecture machines with microSPARC-II (SPARCstation 4 & 5) and SuperSPARC (I & II) CPU's (SPARCstation 10, 10SX, & 20) .... no UltraSPARC machines or use of HyperSPARC modules in the SS10 or 20.  ALSO: no 170MHz SS5, which uses the TurboSPARC processor

Chef

-EDIT-
And welcome to the forums, btw
-EDIT-

helf

welcome!

Do you have any pics of your 68k based suns? i've been wanting one for ages.. heh, the 68k family of CPUs are my favorites for some reason...
After an apparent 15ish year hiatus... I'm baaaaack! :D (12/12/2023)

ericj

One of my previous teachers used to work with Suns. I believe they were SPARCstations.

Eric

da9000

Welcome onboard AStar617! :)


Quote from: "helf"heh, the 68k family of CPUs are my favorites for some reason...

Because the 68K CPUs were the best :)  Starting with the 68000 you had a 32bit CPU (registers/arithmetic) vs 16bits of the x86, 24bit address space (tops at 16MB RAM, which was 16 times what the first x86 could offer) vs 20bit (1MB) of the x86 (which was very very HORRIBLE because it used segmenting and not linear memory addressing), and 16bit data bus (a good compromise for those early days) vs 8bits for the 8088 (the 8086, which pre-dated the 8088 had a 16bit bus, but was much more expensive).Total programmer numbers: 32-24-16

But the best part of the m68k CPUs was the ISA (instruction set) and the 16 registers. It was the cleanest and most elegant. And having 16 registers which you could use, vs the 8 on x86 meant wonders for optimizing freaks and compilers, and performance too!

And this from someone who's been doing x86 programming, lots of assembly and low level stuff, for many years. The m68k was a superior CPU every which way. This I discovered after I finally decided to learn 68k assembly, just to see what it was all about. I just don't know what the hell happened to Motorola and they dropped the ball when it came to Mhz... fsckers..)

kronoman

Eh, Intel woke up. Compare the newer Powers against Core 2 or Opteron, the clock speeds are back to parity-ish. As for IPC, I'm not sure, but given Motorola/IBM's track record, I'd expect that to be really close, too.

By the way, since I'm not an ASM coder myself (outside a *wee* bit of 8086 stuff back in the DOS days), is the PPC as nice to code for as the m68k?
NeXTstation Turbo Color|Sun SS20,Ultra 2,10,60,80,B2k|PowerMac G3,Quadra 950|SGI Indigo2, Power Indigo2, Fuel

da9000

Quote from: "kronoman"Eh, Intel woke up. Compare the newer Powers against Core 2 or Opteron, the clock speeds are back to parity-ish. As for IPC, I'm not sure, but given Motorola/IBM's track record, I'd expect that to be really close, too.

Perhaps. I personally don't think Intel changed its game. They were doing whatever they were doing before: improving on a crappy base (Microsoft style). Instead, I feel that Motorola fell asleep, or something. Anyhow, I wasn't talking about recent CPUs (you mentioned Core2, etc)... I was refering to the timeframe of the 68040-68060 and when the Pentium came out.

Quote from: "kronoman"
By the way, since I'm not an ASM coder myself (outside a *wee* bit of 8086 stuff back in the DOS days), is the PPC as nice to code for as the m68k?

In my opinion, and I'm no expert in PPC asm, it's HORRIBLE! :)
Ok, not horrible, but compared to Sparc 32/64bit and MIPS RiSC, I didn't like it so much. Not as clean or intuitive. The mnemonics suck, and I think that was a big part of the problem. Not a big deal of course if you've got a macro capable assembler, but still, you want to work with the "factory set". It does have some neat things though, even if difficult to follow when disassembling code, like hinting to the Branch Prediction Unit which branch is most likely to be taken after a comparison, and stuff like this. Plenty of registers too :) (32 for the PPC32 at least)

crimsonRE

Welcome, AStar617!  Always great to have more 'Sun'ny folks here! Like you, I collect UNIX-based workstations, though I've not gotten into HP much (only a 712/60), and IBM & DEC not at all.

Lots of SGI - from big PowerSeries monsters (not Predator racks though!) on up - and Sun. No 68k Suns, alas, but I run SunOS 4.1.4 on an SS2 & an IPC (love the lunchbox!), NextStep & Solaris on SS20's and SS5's, and Solaris on my dual-CPU Ultra60 (with Expert3D gfx). I can see getting a Blade in the relative near future, having worked on the Sun platform professionally beginning in 1992 (SS2) and Sun-3's back in school.

I'd be kinda suprised if an 110MHz microSPARC-II outperformed a 75 or 85MHz SuperSPARC-II except in, perhaps, a few specific circumstances, since the microSPARC lacks a Level 2 cache. For something repetetive, like moving a window around, the 1MB cache in an SS-II probably will smoke the uSPARC...

Cheers,
crimsonRE (guess you can figure what I've got in the basement...)

helf

@ da9k (we are off topic...)

I've done ASM coding (if you can call it that) on dragonball chips found in the older palmpilots. They are 68k compatible processors. It was a lot of fun. really easy to code on.

I've seen PPC and x86 ASM. It was scary in comparison....
After an apparent 15ish year hiatus... I'm baaaaack! :D (12/12/2023)

da9000

Quote from: "helf"@ da9k (we are off topic...)

A whee bit, huh? :)  But AStar617 did use the "680xx" word, so let's hope he forgives us, hehe

Quote from: "helf"
I've done ASM coding (if you can call it that) on dragonball chips found in the older palmpilots. They are 68k compatible processors. It was a lot of fun. really easy to code on.

I've seen PPC and x86 ASM. It was scary in comparison....

Yeah, the Dragonballs are very similar to identical with the 68k, although I've not done more than read on them yet :/  But in general the ISA is very similar indeed, so a similar experience, although from what I understand they will not execute straight 68k code. They do it under some emulation of sort. But I'm a bit hazy on the details right now. In fact there are a couple of ongoing projects in the Amiga and Atari community to bring Dragonball accelerators with PCI capability to those machines.

As for PPC and x86 asm, yeah, glad you agree :)

kronoman

QuoteYeah, the Dragonballs are very similar to identical with the 68k, although I've not done more than read on them yet :/  But in general the ISA is very similar indeed, so a similar experience, although from what I understand they will not execute straight 68k code. They do it under some emulation of sort. But I'm a bit hazy on the details right now. In fact there are a couple of ongoing projects in the Amiga and Atari community to bring Dragon ball accelerators with PCI capability to those machines.

Not only with the Dragon Ball, but with the faster Coldfire, too. If I understand right, Elbox has a fully working Coldfire card for Amigas. I had idly wondered if it would be possible to jimmyrig a Coldfire into black hardware, actually, at one point. I read up on them a bit, and the older models seem to be MMU-less, but the newer ones have a PMMU. What I've read, though, can't agree on what the ISA is. Some say it's almost unmodified from the 68060, others say it's more like what a '68070/68080' would have been, had such a chip ever actually existed.
NeXTstation Turbo Color|Sun SS20,Ultra 2,10,60,80,B2k|PowerMac G3,Quadra 950|SGI Indigo2, Power Indigo2, Fuel

nextchef

Quote from: "kronoman"I had idly wondered if it would be possible to jimmyrig a Coldfire into black hardware, actually, at one point. I read up on them a bit, and the older models seem to be MMU-less, but the newer ones have a PMMU. What I've read, though, can't agree on what the ISA is. Some say it's almost unmodified from the 68060, others say it's more like what a '68070/68080' would have been, had such a chip ever actually existed.

So would this be some sort of processor replacement card?  Forgive my ignorance, as I have not completely followed what you guys have been discussing here.

Chef

kronoman

It's the latest incarnation of the m68k series. It's just rather unclear how similar the modern Coldfire is to the 68030/040/060.
NeXTstation Turbo Color|Sun SS20,Ultra 2,10,60,80,B2k|PowerMac G3,Quadra 950|SGI Indigo2, Power Indigo2, Fuel