You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

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leaknoil
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You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby leaknoil » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:00 pm

I just got this a couple days ago. Its useless without the sbus card I didn't get and they sort of sucked to begin with. I had a complete setup in the 90's and it was pretty pointless but, they were pretty rare. At the time Sun people told me it was the last direct attempt by Sun to compete with SGI in the graphics arena. After it failed to make any market inroads Sun gave up forever.

All the chips are kind of pretty to look at anyway. I am sure the gold guys would love to dunk this in acid but, they can't have it. Case is probably going to a 4/110 with a really ugly partial case.

Here's a little usenet post about it:

The host interface was an sbus card with a big wide connector on the back
(looks like a wide SCSI connector, but wider). An interconnect cable
(carrying 32-bit(?) differential parallel data) went from the sbus card to
the GT chassis. It was designed to work with the SS2 and SS10, there's
support to use it as a console, but I do remember it working with other
systems - there was code in the GT startup script (microcode load) to
error out on Galaxy (4/600) systems at one point in time. I'm not sure if
they fixed that in the end.

There were driver files only for sun4c and sun4m, and only up to Solaris
2.4. It will output 76Hz 1280x1024 video, and if you power it up without
any host connected, you should get a sequence of test patterns. You
need the sbus card and cable to get it to do anything meaningful.

It was s-l-o-w for blitting 2D data, though a couple fast clear planes
helped with fills. XGL was the recommend 3D API, and transforms were
taken care of by an onboard i860XR. It did T&L acceleration, not
texturing. From the man page:

NAME

gt - double buffered 24-bit SBus color frame buffer and graphics
accelerator

DESCRIPTION

gt is a 24-bit SBus-based color frame buffer and graphics accelerator.
The frame buffer consists of 108 video memory planes of 1280 .1024 pixels
including 24-bit double buffering, 16 alpha/overlay planes, 24 z-buffer
planes, 10 window ID planes, 8 fast clear planes, and 2 cursor planes. It
provides the standard frame buffer interface defined in fbio(7), paired
with microcode that can be downloaded using gtconfig(1M). Application
acceleration is achieved via the XGL native 3D graphics library.

I think that TGS(?) had OpenGL almost kind of running on it. Ford used a
number of these things for CAD/CAM and had no end of trouble with them -
they finally scrapped them when the ZX and TZX came out (which were much
less buggy). It's an interesting bit of history (and cost something over
$50k brand new) but it was never a great piece of hardware.
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zuluchas
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby zuluchas » Fri Apr 29, 2011 5:17 pm

Cool! We had one of these at the Naval Research Labs in DC back in the '90s.
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby Hakimoto » Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:28 pm

Nice piece of kit! Really!

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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby kjaer » Sun May 01, 2011 12:25 pm

FWIW there have been GT interface cards for SBus on eBay on a pretty constant basis for a long time now. One I think had a BIN of ~$50, which isn't TOO outrageous. The cable is effectively the same as for the SBus Expansion (and PSI, and SBus ALM, etc.) It'd be a shame to cut it up for a 4/110.
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby SAQ » Sun May 01, 2011 4:01 pm

Wasn't the XVR-4000 kind of intended to be competition with SGI?

The GT is a cool find, but difficult to find support for. I have another Sun board from roughly the same era, the TAAC-1, and it is also hard to find support for. A lot of enginnering went into both of those products, and in the end neither was very impressive.
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby zmttoxics » Sun May 01, 2011 8:55 pm

Yeah, this definitely wasn't their last attempt at the graphics market, but they never got any better at it. Still, very interesting, I have never seen one in person (or in pictures until now!) so thanks for posting it! :)
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby leaknoil » Sun May 01, 2011 11:46 pm

SAQ wrote:Wasn't the XVR-4000 kind of intended to be competition with SGI?


I mean more in the ultra high end. The GT cost $50,000 new. What would be a equivalent SGI system ? Reality Engine stuff ?

I have seen those cards listed but, there is still the matter of software. Nothing at all supports this other than OpenWindows and its slow as hell. I tried to use one in the 90's for the hell of it. The 2d stuff was really bad. Windows tore apart as you tried to move them. It was pretty much unusable as a desktop display. All the normal sbus frame buffers were faster for desktop use.

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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby smj » Mon May 02, 2011 5:33 pm

Well I never worked with a GT, though I was active with Suns at a time when this might still have been viewed as fairly current. But I am digging the old school logo/badge in the photo... ;)
Then? :IRIS3130: ... Now? :O3x02L: :A3504L:- :A3502L: :1600SW:+MLA :Fuel: :Octane2: :Octane: :Indigo2IMP: ... Other: DEC :BA213: :BA123: Sun, DG AViiON, NeXT :Cube:

leaknoil
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby leaknoil » Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:06 pm

I actually managed to find a sbus card and cable for it. It uses a 68 pin connector just like all your vintage SCSI gear. I just grabbed a random SCSI cable and it worked.

Here you will see a pretty damn rare logo. Is that a moon ? When I had one before it was off a SS1+. It only came up after openwin booted. I've never seen this before.

IMG_9922.jpg


Nothing much 3d in openwindows but, this what a $50,000 virtual fishtank looked like in 1992.

IMG_9948.jpg

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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby D-EJ915 » Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:40 pm

That's tight you got it working man, what system are you using it with?
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby PymbleSoftware » Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:45 pm

leaknoil wrote: Is that a moon ?


"Thats no moon ... its a SPARCstation" ;) :lol:.

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leaknoil
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby leaknoil » Sun Jun 19, 2011 11:11 pm

D-EJ915 wrote:That's tight you got it working man, what system are you using it with?


ss2. It just knew what to do.

leaknoil
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby leaknoil » Sun Jun 19, 2011 11:14 pm

PymbleSoftware wrote:
leaknoil wrote: Is that a moon ?


"Thats no moon ... its a SPARCstation" ;) :lol:.
.


I thought the same thing haha There is some color in it though. Maybe its supposed to be the earth ? I need CSI to come over and enhance this picture.

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zmttoxics
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby zmttoxics » Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:19 am

For some reason that desktop screen shot looks oddly impressive... Nice work man! :)
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Ryan Fox
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Re: You graphics geeks might get a kick out of this: Sun GT

Unread postby Ryan Fox » Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:53 am



Its fantastic that you got this working, how about a video on youtube?

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