Ah, it’s that time of year again: I need a project for the RetroChallange 2014 Winter Warmup.
A few have asked for another whimsical project, and (for the sake of balance) a SPARC or Solaris-based one.
Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything quite as whimsical as last years effort, The Sound of Violence.
I had toyed with the Indigo PSU rescue project (Indigo Tendencies), but I am still stumped trying to find a suitable donor PSU to use due to the archaic DC power requirements of the SGI Iris Indigo.
On the SPARC front, my surviving SS10 PSU is starting to flake – it will run a pair of 133 MHz HyperSPARC CPUs perfectly fine for months on end, but as of June this year it will no longer run a pair of 180 MHz CPUs – it hard-hangs after a few minutes – and it is not the CPU modules that are at fault, as I have tried several modules and they all work in pairs in an SS20, and work individually in the SS10. The SS10 PSU seems to be getting a bit marginal, so the thought would be to replace it with an adapted modern higher-rated PSU (it needs to be a slim tiny unit, and need adaption, due to the very specific size and shape of the SS10 bay and the oddball fan arrangement there). I have identified current PSUs that would be usable – the TDK Lambda NV1-350TT-N3 or NV1-453TT-N3. For the SS10, the PSU needs to be able to provide 5V@21A, 12V@3A and -12V@0.1A, and *must* provide a 5V HCMOS “power-good” signal and a 5V@1A standby supply, and ideally also 5V HCMOS power-off and power-on lines.
The only problem is that although those TDK PSUs are currently available, they cost approx GBP140, which is way too much for a hobbyist project. Although Ebay and Amazon turn up a few NV1 units, none of them are the -N3 version, which is what is needed for the SS10.
OK, so what else is there? Perhaps building NetTrek game for Solaris and running a multi-player network game would be interesting – NetTrek is one of the earliest multi-computer multi-player networked games (1988), so I guess it would meet the “Retro” requirement…
The other possibility would be “SETI@again”: for three months in 1999, I had been running SETI@home on a network of 50 SPARCclassic (50MHz) machines and a Sun Enterprise 6000 (14 * 250MHz) in the off-hours overnight; until the network bandwidth required got a little too much to hide. The SPARCclassic machines took 10 days CPU time to process a single work-unit, so it was a good job there were 50 of them! The E6000 processed approx 25 work-units per day. I have recently been trying to build the new (since 2005) BOINC-based SETI@home software on the SS10 under Solaris 2.6, a difficult job due to the dreadful (broken) autoconfig scripts – works OK on Solaris 8 with GCC 4.x, but (in spite of the scripts claims) are no-go on Solaris 2.6. I have been trying to get this going all December, so perhaps the project could be to complete two SETI@home workunits on the SS10 by end of January?
Hmmm, decisions, decisions!