[rescue] What Linux can run on Sun Fire V890 (UltraSparc IV+) server

Ahmed Ewing aewing at gmail.com
Wed Dec 2 15:07:05 CST 2009

A little late to the party, but...

On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 11:53 AM, Joshua Boyd <jdboyd at jdboyd.net> wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 10:07:03AM -0500, Jonathan J. M. Katz wrote:
>> The OP (Aaron?) suggested he wanted a platform for ffmpeg and other fun
>> things to (I assume) transcode video.
>> > something I can compile FFMPEG on, or run Blender on.
>> That said, I'm not sure why there isn't Solaris/Sparc support for those
>> apps, especially given the VIS instruction set of the sparc CPUs. VIS is the
>> Sparc analog of Intel's MMX. More info: http://www.sun.com/processors/vis/
> There is support for Solaris/SPARC in those two programs.
> http://download.blender.org/release/Blender2.49b/blender-2.49b-solaris-2.10-sparc_64-py2.5.tar.bz2

I'll confirm 110%, building ffmpeg for Solaris 10 SPARC is definitely
possible. The problem is, the Blastwave / OpenCSW build is old as
dirt, and it currently takes a good amount of coaxing to build from a
modern repository snapshot.

One weekend I decided to try my hand at it in support of a SPARC-based
pyTivo server (I wanted to consolidate this service onto the same box
which already serves the video files via ZFS/samba), and had the
foresight to log my results over the next few weekends:


Cliff notes:
- It worked (please excuse variables etc.that looks nonsensical, as
software development/compilation has never been my strong suit to
begin with, and I was working late into the night each time);
- I opted to keep running ffmpeg on a single P4 with HyperThreading
instead of SPARC.

Of course, your mileage may vary (especially with the amount of
hardware you have in the form of the V890 to throw at the task).

> The recent Big Buck Bunny short film was rendered on Solaris (but
> probably on AMD64 instead of SPARC) because Sun donated use of a large
> Solaris cluster for the project.

*Very* likely x64 and not SPARC. Cycle for cycle (and dollar for
dollar, if referring to MSRP), they just aren't fast enough for this
type of work.

> And: Building ffmpeg on Solaris 10
> http://chrismiles.livejournal.com/25439.html

I too came across Chris Miles' page and it helped a lot. I'm pretty
sure I credit him in my log.

>> I'm not sure how well gcc can compile those apps for use with VIS.
>> sunfreeware.com doesn't seem to have either blender or ffmpeg pre-compiled.
>> Then again, Sun's compilers seem to be free for download these days, anyway,
>> so that isn't much of an issue; you can use the Sun compiler and get the
>> support for VIS (hopefully the compiler is smart enough and there doesn't
>> need to be magic pixie dust in the code itself.)
> I think that FFMpeg might have a little VIS optimization, while Blender
> probably has none.

I used GCC, and VIS optimization works, but there's a bug in the
implementation which requires a Sun engineer's patch which I manually
applied ot the code because it never made its way back into the

It's worth mentioning that even with all Sun and US-III optimization
flags set (I had no intention of porting to any other Sun boxes), I
only squeezed out literally a couple extra fps. I think that's in my
log too.

Hope that helps,


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