SS20 questions

SS20 questions

Post by Bart Simps » Sun, 29 Aug 2004 06:11:31

I am new to Sun so bear with me a bit.

I think I have the ZX (Leo) frame buffer in my SS20
Its really big and looks like it takes up like 2 card bays.
It also has one 2 gig drive and one 50mhz processor.

I would like
2 (4-9 gig) drives if possible
2-4 (100-200mhz) processors.


How many processors can I run in my box if I have the ZX (monster) video
card installed.

I am running the 50mhz processor and only want to play on the machine.
How much performance gain should I expect with 2 (100mhz) processors or
even 4 or is it even worth the trouble and money. "Just buy a Ultra 10,
they are cheep of eBay"



So all comments are welcome...

SS20 questions

Post by David Wad » Sun, 29 Aug 2004 07:20:49

Watch out for the heat.

I think four, but you will need two dual CPU cards. Again watch out for the
The SS20 has two types of slot. 4 for add-in cards, 2 for CPU's.


SS20 questions

Post by Chris Newp » Sun, 29 Aug 2004 08:00:29

Rather fit a single 18 or 36 Gb, they run cooler.

No, the dual processor modules are double width, so you
cannot have ZX and 4 processors.

Heat is a major issue in the SS20, especially with
the ZX framebuffer. The fastest processors
that you should use with the ZX are 2 x 85MHz.

My real address is crn (at) netunix (dot) com
WARNING all messages containing attachments or html will be silently
deleted. Send only plain text.

SS20 questions

Post by Lasse Jens » Sun, 29 Aug 2004 14:07:32

Exchange the ZX for a VRAM module and use the onboard framebuffer.

If you want to over 85 mhz, you need to get ROSS HyperSPARC modules, and
they are IMHO too expensive on eBay. I run my SS20 with a 50 and a 75 mhz
CPU, and it seems good enough for just playing around with Solaris 8,
webbrowsing and stuff like that.

Any drive configuartion would work, but as David and Chris mention, heat is
the big issue.

Lasse Jensen [fafler at linuxmail dot org]

SS20 questions

Post by Juhan Leem » Sun, 29 Aug 2004 14:17:54

That ZX (Leo) is supposed to be a Monster (space heater?)!

As others have said, it primarily depends on heat (getting rid of it).

IMO, the "sweet spot" for the SS20 is dual SM71s (75MHz SuperSparc, w.
1MB cache). These have been pretty cheap on eBay lately (about US$10 ea?).

SM81s (85MHz w. 1MB cache) are marginally faster, apparently a lot hotter,
and seem to be much more expensive. SM82s (if I got the number right?
85MHz w. 2MB cache, but only 1MB usable on MBus) are even more expensive.

I have a quad Ross 125MHz SS20 and I'm a bit disappointed by it. Seems
that the HyperSparc architecture does less work per MHz (learning from
Intel?) and so the 125MHz Ross are not much (if at all?) faster than 75MHz
SuperSparc. Furthermore the Ross HyperSparcs tend to have a lot less
cache: my 125MHz have only 256KB cache each. I also get the impression
(but I haven't measured or done calculations) that the 4 Ross 125MHz CPUs
with little cache end up " *** " the MBus and starving each other. That
is pure conjecture on my part based on sitting behind the screen (nut
behind the wheel) of both machines. Also Ross CPUs are disproportionatly
expensive (viz. bang/$). Personally, I don't think they're worth extra.

My recommendation would be to get 2x SM71s and a bunch of memory.
If you want more, get a second cheap SS20 and play with clustering.

No problem with 9GB disks, I have 2 of them in my SS20. Even bigger (new)
disks might work OK, as they tend to run less hot than the old ones.
You might also want to add faster 100MHz ethernet board? Onboard is 10MHz.

p.s. Ultra2s also seem to be dirt cheap these days. Many times faster!
The "sweet spot" there seems to be 2x 300MHz. The 400Mhz CPUs cost more.

p.p.s. Some people "rag" on us for playing with old gear. I look at it as
being pretty cheap edutainment, with potential benefits (experience!).

Juhan Leemet
Logicognosis, Inc.

SS20 questions

Post by Steven N. » Sun, 29 Aug 2004 22:47:43

I've seen Ross dual-CPU modules which were single-width.

SS20 questions

Post by Matthias S » Sun, 29 Aug 2004 23:31:12

Steven N. Hirsch schrieb:

These are te Dual-66 MHz - don't know 'bout the higher speed ones

SS20 questions

Post by Steve Colb » Mon, 30 Aug 2004 00:00:45

There are Ross dual 125mhz and higher, up to 200mhz i believe. They are
single Width but only for SS10's. If youre looking to upgrade the
processor then you have to look at what PROM version you have, it must
be 2.25 or higher. Look for it in dmesg.

SS20 questions

Post by Michael Do » Mon, 30 Aug 2004 02:10:53

This poster got it. Unless you are really broke, or really attached to
your SS20, a U2 would be worlds faster as an introductory Solaris
machine and are easily obtainable for <$100 (2x300mhz, 256-512mb ram).
They can also use Creator/Elite cards to get halfway decent 24bit color.


SS20 questions

Post by Rich Tee » Mon, 30 Aug 2004 02:13:23

I agree with others' recommendations about the twin SM71s. But
unless you plan to do 3D stuff, I'd advise getting rid of the ZX.
Not only is it a space heater, it's 2D performance poor, and it
isn't supported after Solaris 2.6. Solaris 9 runs on the SS20,
so that's the OS I recommend.

With two 75 MHz SM71s and 256 MB+ of RAM, the SS20 is a nice machine,
albeit a bit slow by current standards.

Buying an Ultra on Ebay is also good advice! Avoid the ULtra 1 and
200 MHz Ultra 2s, because they don't run on Solaris 10.


Rich Teer, SCNA, SCSA, author of "Solaris Systems Programming",
published in August 2004.

Rite Online Inc.

Voice: +1 (250) 979-1638

SS20 questions

Post by Josh McKe » Mon, 30 Aug 2004 23:24:22

In article <x61Yc.206992$ XXXX@XXXXX.COM >,

Or you can use "prtconf -V"


SS20 questions

Post by Juhan Leem » Tue, 31 Aug 2004 17:20:30

Only for SS10 you say? Pity! (spoof a Red Rose Tea TV ad here years ago)

I have a quad Ross 125MHz SS20, using 2 single width dual CPU modules.
They only have 256KB cache per CPU unfortunately. Maybe that's the price
they had to pay to get them small enough? Nice packaging though. My ROM
is 2.25. ISTR something about 2.25R? Was that an enhancement for higher
speed Ross processors? I don't remember and I'm too tired/lazy to lookup.

Juhan Leemet
Logicognosis, Inc.

SS20 questions

Post by Steven N. » Thu, 02 Sep 2004 21:30:24

I had to upgrade the ROM on my SS20 to 2.25R in order to use Ross
180Mhz. modules. The machine now exhibits the world's longest power-on
self-test, taking almost (5) minutes from power-on to show signs of
life. It is so slow that I was convinced I'd killed the box. Finally,
I had to run for the phone after flicking the power switch and came back
to the OBP prompt <g>.

Is this is normal for the Ross firmware?


SS20 questions

Post by see_my_sig » Sun, 05 Sep 2004 07:35:33

Sorry to post this under Rich's comments, as they are not related, but
to someone someone asked about earlier in the tread, which google
groups won't let me post under.

I personally think the SS20s are a bit old, but if like me you have 5
of the things, and you do want 100baseT, there is someone selling
100baseT/68 pin SCSI (Sunswift) cards on ebay uk starting at 4.99. He
seems to have loads of the things, so needless to say I won an auction
at 4.99.

His feedback is pretty poor (about 900, but only 97% positive), but I
decided to take a chance given it was only a fiver. I only sent the
cheque yesterday, so needless to say I have not got the card, but
those cards are quite nice.

I have another 100baseT card here (501-2655), but I don't think the
later version of Solaris support that, wheras Solaris 9 supports the
hme on the sunswift cards.

SS20 questions

Post by see_my_sig » Sun, 05 Sep 2004 07:43:33

No, that is not true. The Ross 125 MHz HyperSPARCs are single width
mbus cards, with two CPUs on the one card. I have run quad processors


Perhaps, I don't know. I rekon dual 85 MHz CPUs and a ZX are asking
for trouble myself. But it all depends on room temperature, airflow,
even altitude, and a bit of luck too I guess. At that sort of
configuration an SS20 would be very warm indeed. Runnning external
disks will help.