Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

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Kira
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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby Kira » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:09 pm

TeamBlackFox wrote:You went over my head there to be honest - I stay out of low level talk because I honestly was never formally educated in it.

You're correct on most of your points - I see that I should have qualified my statements to narrow my scope:

x86_64 is the only CISC architecture in use and actively developed within the realm of the consumer market that I can actually reach with my relatively modest income. 68k has been halted since the mid 1990s, VAX is no longer developed etc.

I'm not even going for SPARC specifically either, but I do want to make the point that I've have had a total of 8 x86 based computers, and all but two failed within a year. One of them that survived was a Pentium 4, and while it survived, it struggled with everything I threw at it moreorless. The other was a MacBook Pro Retina, which kept kernel panicking and because BSD didn't run stable on it, I sold it off for $1000, less than 2 years into ownership. All other machines I owned under the x86 ISA failed within 6 months of continued, 24/7 usage in one way or another, including one in a rack fire that also consumed two XServe G4s I had in the cage and *nearly* consumed some hardware I had rented.

After this desktop I had melted itself and warped the motherboard, I'm fucking done. Never had a SINGLE failure from a RISC based device of any kind. Thats why I started this thread, to see if a POWER server was viable. Then I was looking at the late model Sun Ultras and the Sun Blades, but now I'm just considering screwing it all and staying within the scope of retro RISC and 68k computers.


Assuming the issue is related to the ISA of the processors is an interesting conclusion.

Do you still maintain that x86 is obsolete, by the way? And have you found any evidence to support it yet?

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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby japes » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:20 pm

You have some impressively bad luck with some hardware there. I built a machine with a left over Intel core i5 to be a freenas box. I used the cheapest MSI motherboard you can imagine - just whatever I could get for ~$50 at Frys when I picked up the i7 which replaced the i5 in my desktop. The FreeNAS machine currently reports it's been running for 323 days! I set it on the floor in my living room - booted from a USB key and it serves up a mirror pair of surveillance seagate 1TB drives. Point being cheap works fine sometimes - now I'm not driving that CPU 95% all day long. I could give you a half dozen examples of my systems running flawless - but you've heard that already.

I found a Sun Blade 1000 for free on craigslist and couldn't help myself - I haven't had a chance to spend any time on it yet, but I'll be running Solaris on it so for whatever that's worth.

If you do want a power6 machine, 520s are starting to show up on ebay for ~$1000 give or take - but you know that won't have a graphics card, and it won't have a rail kit. I use AIX on power at work and we have graphics on one 520 and it runs CDE and honestly - I'd rather use anything else. Actually the drives and sas cage/backplane were scavenged to build up a 550 instead, so it doesn't do anything right now.
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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:53 pm

>You have some impressively bad luck with some hardware there.
That I do, with Intel/AMD chips at least!

> Point being cheap works fine sometimes - now I'm not driving that CPU 95% all day long.
Neither am I. When I wasn't awake or someone wasn't scheduled to slogin and run some builds ( I have a few people who were using it to run some x86_64 builds at night ) it sat idle.

>I found a Sun Blade 1000 for free on craigslist and couldn't help myself - I haven't had a chance to spend any time on it yet, but I'll be running Solaris on it so for whatever that's worth.

Nice find! Let me know how that turns out.

>If you do want a power6 machine, 520s are starting to show up on ebay for ~$1000 give or take
Unfortunately for myself thats more than I'm able to spend, but that may change soon.

> it runs CDE
I don't blame your feelings towards AIX. As I said I'd probably slap NetBSD on it and use that. I'm probably not going the POWER route
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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:18 pm

Look, I get your feelings; I've had this fight on another board that shall remain nameless. And for a time the PowerPC workstation form factor was still doing quite well compared to x86 workstations. Unfortunately, that time was around 2008. My 2007 C2D Mac mini gets walloped by the 2005 quad G5 on some tasks, but easily cruises by it in others, and by 2008 there wasn't much question. I despise the x86 ISA as well, but Intel has had a lot of money and time to invest in making it run well despite its warts, and in fairness to Intel they've tried to kill it at least three times (iAPX432, i860/960, Itanium) and the market wouldn't let them. So I can't really blame them anymore though I used to.

This isn't to say that a RISC workstation is useless in this day and age (my quad is still my daily driver, and does all my tasks except TurboTax and Android development), but all the current RISC hardware you will buy will be server oriented, so you'll be going a few years back for something useful. Unfortunately, the most powerful and still useful RISC workstation that does, you know, client workstation applications, was the one you sold me last week.

An SGI with Irix will still be a decent machine as a workstation, but for web browsing you might want to keep a Linux or BSD box in the closet to run Firefox/whatever and use the SGI as an Xterm for that purpose. You could even run the assisting box on ARM if you like. The Fuel should do the trick just fine. I like the Tez, but it's a loud and hot machine, and there are faster loud and hot machines for general purpose usage. Or you could install *BSD on the SGI, but that takes all the fun out of it! :D

The $1000 p520s are stripper units, and none of them are deskside, which means they're going to be even noisier (you can't install a baffle on them and their fans run faster). If you decide to go lower than that, say a POWER5 or even a POWER4, remember that the 970 is not only a POWER4 derivative, it has AltiVec and they don't! IBM didn't add VMX/AltiVec to "big POWER" until POWER6.

I just don't think POWER is going to do the job for you here, and that's coming from someone who's been a pro-PowerPC bigot for a very long time.
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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby Kira » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:48 pm

ClassicHasClass wrote:I despise the x86 ISA as well, but Intel has had a lot of money and time to invest in making it run well despite its warts, and in fairness to Intel they've tried to kill it at least three times (iAPX432, i860/960, Itanium) and the market wouldn't let them. So I can't really blame them anymore though I used to.


Offtopic historical note: 860 and 960 were completely distinct designs. 960 was a combination of a Berkeley RISC with some concepts from the iAPX 432 - notably, in the beginning, tagged memory; on the other hand, 860 was an odd proto-VLIW chip with no relation whatsoever to the 960 and an emphasis on HPC and graphics.

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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby gewt » Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:11 pm

TeamBlackFox wrote:>You have some impressively bad luck with some hardware there.
That I do, with Intel/AMD chips at least!


Try Cyrix!

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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby hamei » Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:36 pm

TeamBlackFox wrote:Never had a SINGLE failure from a RISC based device of any kind.

Then you haven't run SGI kit very much. Fuels fail with depressing frequency. Octanes are a little better, Indies go through their power supplies, the O3xx series has power supplies that catch fire, and on and on.

Meanwhile, the Assistant's Netfinity trudges on down the road, has not had a single hardware failure in ... no date on the tag. But it's Made in China and at least eight years old.

While we're doing anecdotes, I have always had better luck with IBM than the rest. Now that Ginny is in charge that's probably gone with the wind but they did have better quality in the past. HP was good in the days of the RS-20 but I wouldn't touch their shit with triple-ply toilet paper now.

Then I was looking at the late model Sun Ultras and the Sun Blades...

As long as you run it entirely from the command line, Sun is nice. But every desktop they've had since NeWS is disgusting garbage. I'm pretty sure OpenStep won't run on a modern Sun, but if you get it to work, let me know !

Can you run Rhapsody on a G5 ? That might be decent.

You realize, the most practical thing would be Windows XP on a Z-Pro.
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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:21 pm

Kira wrote:
ClassicHasClass wrote:I despise the x86 ISA as well, but Intel has had a lot of money and time to invest in making it run well despite its warts, and in fairness to Intel they've tried to kill it at least three times (iAPX432, i860/960, Itanium) and the market wouldn't let them. So I can't really blame them anymore though I used to.


Offtopic historical note: 860 and 960 were completely distinct designs. 960 was a combination of a Berkeley RISC with some concepts from the iAPX 432 - notably, in the beginning, tagged memory; on the other hand, 860 was an odd proto-VLIW chip with no relation whatsoever to the 960 and an emphasis on HPC and graphics.


Editorial point conceded; I didn't mean to conflate those in my post.

hamei wrote:Can you run Rhapsody on a G5 ? That might be decent.


No. I did get it running on this Wallstreet G3 and, well, it's NeXTStep with Platinum but no app compatibility. Also, the compiler is a freaked-out gcc 2.7.2.1. I like it in theory, but when I use it, I end up spending all my time in the Blue Box.
smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 900MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12 DCD, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, 175MHz R10000, Solid IMPACT
probably posted from Image bruce, Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 16GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * RDI PrecisionBook * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...

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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby surrealdeal » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:26 pm

could be worth the $200 in gas:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16728769

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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:47 pm

surrealdeal wrote:could be worth the $200 in gas:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=16728769


Mmm, no. That's a POWER3-II. Interesting as a collector's item, can do some basic tasks, might make a fun server to mess around with, but not a daily driver by any means.
smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 900MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12 DCD, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, 175MHz R10000, Solid IMPACT
probably posted from Image bruce, Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 16GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * RDI PrecisionBook * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...

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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:31 pm

I appreciate your post Cameron. Since I just became jobless a matter of a few hours ago, im calling off my search for now. One thing after a fucking nother eh?

I'm also sticking with my octane and ditching my Fuel because I just don't like it as much as my Octane. Plus as Hamei said, the Octanes are better when if comes to reliability. And I'm inclined to agree. The Fuel feels like an old x86 PC in terms of quality.

On installing NetBSD on an SGI, I'm not downgrading to an unaccelerated X server. I'm also not interested in any more apple products. So my options once I find new employment currently amount to late model Suns, late model HP PA RISCs and possibly an overpriced AEON or ACube system board. Seems like a paltry mix, but HP's PA RISC don't seem to be too much of a slouch even after they jumped to the Itanic, and I seem to be able to get a top of the line C8k for about $300.
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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:58 pm

Wow, that sucks. I hope you can find new employment. I'm sorry to hear it. :(

Fuel vs Octane comes down to a matter of choice. I don't disagree the Fuel is "less special" with respect to design than the Octane, but I do love Big Red.

PA-RISC does have the advantage of cheap, but mostly because no one loves them anymore, including HP. They're pretty zippy systems, but my top-spec PA-8900 C8000 does use a lot of juice, and Linux is best described as a "work in progress" on it. At one stage I was thinking of porting Firefox 3.6 to it since it already does run Firefox 3.5, but I never got around to it and the Fuel replaced it in the KVM slot. It runs 11i v2 TCOE.

Like POWER, I have a soft spot for PA-RISC because my first job was on a K250 and later I did contract work with a C3750. It's a very clean RISC and HP at least crammed incredible amounts of L2 in it, something Apple could have learned from with their criminally undercached designs. I came to hate HP-sUX and yet become fluent in it. Now I have two HP-sUX machines (a 9000/350 in the huge tank-like minirack and the C8000), plus a "425t" that I need to figure out if it even still works and what the hell is in it.

If you can live with the C8000's limitations, and they're significant, it's certainly not a bad system.
smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 900MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12 DCD, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, 175MHz R10000, Solid IMPACT
probably posted from Image bruce, Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 16GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * RDI PrecisionBook * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...

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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby hamei » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:02 pm

ClassicHasClass wrote:
hamei wrote:Can you run Rhapsody on a G5 ?

No. I did get it running on this Wallstreet G3 and, well, it's NeXTStep with Platinum but no app compatibility.

Oiks. Thank you, just saved me some time. Mark that one off the "interesting" list :D
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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:04 pm

No, no, don't get me wrong, it's "interesting." The fact I have it on a Wallstreet laptop means I don't have to devote a KVM seat to it, I can just toss it on the project table when I want to play. One of these days I might make it do something practical, but the problem is that there weren't many NeXTStep applications then or now, and it doesn't have Carbon, so most Mac source code is out. OmniWeb was cool in the day but I'm better off running Classilla in Blue Box!
smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 900MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12 DCD, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, 175MHz R10000, Solid IMPACT
probably posted from Image bruce, Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 16GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * RDI PrecisionBook * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...

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Re: Thinking of grabbing a POWER server

Unread postby commodorejohn » Wed Jul 23, 2014 5:56 am

TeamBlackFox wrote:I appreciate your post Cameron. Since I just became jobless a matter of a few hours ago, im calling off my search for now. One thing after a fucking nother eh?

Aw, that bites. Here's hoping you get something better lined up before too long.

ClassicHasClass wrote:plus a "425t" that I need to figure out if it even still works and what the hell is in it.

425t is one of the 040-based Domain/HP-UX workstations. I just picked one up at the recycle center not too long ago, and it worked fine. Still need to get a keyboard/mouse or PS/2 adapter, though.
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