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SPARCstation 1+ (25 MHz SPARC)

The SPARCstation 1, or Sun 4/60, is a SPARC-based computer workstation sold by Sun Microsystems as the first of its SPARCstation series. It was sold starting in April 1989, and the end of Sun's support for it was in 1995. It was designed for ease of production with heavy integration in a distinctive slim enclosure (a square 3 inch high "pizza box"). It was designed to compete with high-end PCs or Macs and sold for between US$8,995 (no hard disks) and around US$20,000. In the first year around 35,000 units were sold.

The computer was based around a LSI Logic RISC CPU running at 20 MHz, with a Weitek 3167 (or 3170) FPU coprocessor. It was the fourth Sun computer (after the 4/260, 4/110 and 4/280) to use the SPARC architecture. It was the first of the sun4c architecture. The motherboard offered three SBus slots and had built-in AUI ethernet, 8 kHz audio, and a 5 MB/s SCSI-1 bus. The basic display ran at 1152x900 in 256 colours, and monitors shipped with the computer were 16 to 19 inch greyscale or colour.

Contents

Design

The SPARCstation 1 features several distinctive design and packaging elements driven internally by system designer Andy Bechtolsheim and externally by design house frogdesign. Bechtolsheim specified that the motherboard would be the size of a sheet of paper and the SBus expansion cards would be the size of index cards, resulting in an extremely compact footprint. The external design motif includes dot-patterned cooling vents on the side which are echoed by a "dimple" pattern on the front face, and "Sun purple" feet.

Memory

The SPARCstation 1 takes 30 pin SIMMs in groups of four. It can take either 1 MB or 4 MB SIMMs as long as the size is consistent within a bank. There are a total of four memory banks, which can give a total of 64 MB of memory. The memory bank nearest the floppy disk drive should be filled first. If not, the OpenBoot firmware will hang while memory checking.

Disk drives

The SPARCstation 1 has space for up to two hard drives and one floppy drive internally. The machine will take any 50 pin SCSI-2 hard drive, but the OpenBoot BIOS will not boot from any partition which starts or ends after 1024 MB. The floppy drive, like the Macintosh's, is unusual in that it has an electromechanical eject mechanism rather than the conventional eject button, and therefore must be ejected by the operating system or OpenBoot. The machine can connect to any SCSI CD drive, via either the SCSI connector on the back or by connecting it to any spare internal SCSI connector via a 50 pin cable.

NVRAM

The SPARCstation 1 uses an M48T02 battery-backed RTC with RAM chip which handles the real time clock and boot parameter storage. The only problem with this chip is that the battery is internal, which means the entire chip must be replaced when its battery runs out. As all SPARCstation 1s made are now older than the battery life of this chip, a substantial number of these systems now refuse to boot. Additionally, the current revision M48T02 chips in production exert stricter control over the reserved bits in the NVRAM; as Sun abused these, a current M48T02 will store the NVRAM data, however the RTC will not function correctly.

Operating systems

The SPARCstation 1, 1+, IPC and SLC can run the following operating systems:

SunOS 4.0.3c through 5.7 (Solaris 7)

Linux (Modern versions may have trouble with the limited amount of memory in these machines)

NetBSD 1.0 onwards

OpenBSD - All versions.

Related computers

The SPARCstation 1+ (Sun 4/65) pushed the CPU to a 25 MHz LSI L64801, upgraded the coprocessor to a Weitek 3172 and installed a new SCSI controller.

The SPARCstation IPC (Sun 4/40) is a version of the SPARCstation 1+ in a lunchbox style case and onboard video.

The SPARCstation SLC (Sun 4/20) is a version of the SPARCstation 1+ built into a monitor cabinet.

The SPARCstation 2 (Sun 4/75) is the machine's successor and was released in 1990.

External links

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