What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

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Irinikus
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby Irinikus » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:34 am

johnnym wrote:I think a fully upgraded Starfire - assuming they're extremely rare today - would be exactly what I wish to find these days! :D (plus a supply of free energy...)


An awesome system indeed!

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It has the styling of some of the early Cray's. (before Cray's became a bunch of generic cabinets)
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby Irinikus » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:40 am

Besides the Cray 2, the Cray T90 has to be one of my absolute favourites.

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I really miss the days when super computers were singular units rather than clusters of generic racks.

If any of you have ever taken a close look at a Cray 3 module, you would see that this was an ingenious way of packaging dies in a very high density format.

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Imagine what could be achieved if modern day processors were packed using this format? You could probably fit a Cray Titan into a form factor the size of a Cray T90!
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby itsvince725 » Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:16 am

I just thought of another one I didn't know existed until very recently: an AlphaBook, made by Tadpole. I've seen SPARCbooks and their RS/6000 PPC laptop but never an AlphaBook.
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby skywriter » Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:29 pm

A DECsystem 1090, and an IBM 3090.
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:29 pm

itsvince725 wrote:I just thought of another one I didn't know existed until very recently: an AlphaBook, made by Tadpole. I've seen SPARCbooks and their RS/6000 PPC laptop but never an AlphaBook.


I have a PrecisionBook (PA-RISC), which is nearly as hard to find. It's basically a SPARCbook with HP innards; I believe the AlphaBook is the same basic idea.
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby itsvince725 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:57 pm

Oh wow, that one I didn't even know about! I guess that means every major commercial RISC platform of the mid 90s got a laptop except MIPS...
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby johnnym » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:58 pm

itsvince725 wrote:Oh wow, that one I didn't even know about! I guess that means every major commercial RISC platform of the mid 90s got a laptop except MIPS...

Don't forget this one. :) Although it must have been constructed closer to the end of the 90ies:
We built the laptop over a six month period using parts from of the O2 [sic], which was built at the same time.
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby heavyfuel » Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:14 am

Irinikus wrote:
johnnym wrote:I think a fully upgraded Starfire - assuming they're extremely rare today - would be exactly what I wish to find these days! :D (plus a supply of free energy...)


An awesome system indeed!

263e2308197cd8e81bcb028136a3492c.jpg

It has the styling of some of the early Cray's. (before Cray's became a bunch of generic cabinets)


If Wikipedia is correct, it was actually designed by Cray.

Here's a video of the Starfire in operation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jnWCYIvMck

By the way, does the Starfire qualify as a mainframe, with all its fault tolerance features?

Or just a high-performance server system? Or could it be regarded as a supercomputer too? Someone said it was once on the TOP500 list...

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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby josehill » Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:22 am

heavyfuel wrote:If Wikipedia is correct, it was actually designed by Cray.


Wikipedia is correct. The internals are from Cray, though I don't remember how much of the cosmetic exterior is from Cray vs SUN. There are elements of the external design that resemble older Crays, but there are some differences.

At the time, there definitely were people who thought SGI made a big mistake when it sold the Starfire line to Sun.

By the way, does the Starfire qualify as a mainframe, with all its fault tolerance features?

Or just a high-performance server system? Or could it be regarded as a supercomputer too? Someone said it was once on the TOP500 list...


It was sold as a high-performance server system. There are some pretty significant differences in design objectives between a mainframe and a high-end Unix server like the Starfire. While it wasn't unusual for high-end server manufacturers to market their systems as having "mainframe-like" qualities, they really are a different species of system. The Starfire was much more of a direct competitor to SGI Origin 2000 systems than to traditional mainframes.

Without trying to look it up to verify, I'm 99% sure that some of the largest Starfires made it onto the TOP500 list, though they didn't last very long on the list.

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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby kjaer » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:07 pm

I worked on E10k when it was current. The architecture is derived from Cray CS6400, yes, but it has plenty in it that came from Sun. Cosmetically it's all Sun.

It has some interesting RAS features but it's not even close to being "fault tolerant". It's definitely not "a mainframe".

Actually the thing I remember most (apart from the profound limitations on a successful dynamic reconfiguration) is it being fantastically expensive to reboot. We had some big teething problems with VxVM, VxFS, JNI, and EMC PowerPath in the early days, resulting in more sev-zero system-down phone calls than I think I've ever had in my career at any time before or since. "You want us to try changing this and reboot? Are you sure the reboot is absolutely necessary? We can certainly do that, but you're waiting on the phone with us while we wait the 75 minutes it to boot. Or you can come up with a plan that avoids the reboot." On a large system domain, even the least-thorough POST mode can take 40 minutes.
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Re: What extremely rare (non-prototype) computers do you wish you could find?

Unread postby josehill » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:45 pm

kjaer wrote:I worked on E10k when it was current.

Back when I worked for GlobalMegaPharmaDrugCo, we had an E10k for serving our in-house, multi-tier chemistry database applications (Oracle, Java, tons of custom code), and we paired it with an Origin 2000 that served as a compute server. I had accounts on both, but I only admin'd the SGI. In practice, we ran the Origin as if it were a giant workstation, bouncing and reconfiguring it as requested by the scientists without the usual corporate change-control processes, even though it was a bigger system than the E10k, whereas doing anything on the E10k needed planning and sign-offs from people on three continents.


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