[rescue] SATA on SPARC systems

Eddie Cottongim eddie_cottongim at cox.net
Fri Oct 20 04:12:16 CDT 2017

Mike Spooner wrote:
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Message: 1
>> Date: Sun, 8 Oct 2017 22:07:37 -0500
>> From: Jerry Kemp <sun.mail.list47 at oryx.us>
>> To: The Rescue List <rescue at sunhelp.org>
>> Subject: [rescue] SATA on SPARC systems ::WAS:::::Re: Saved this Ultra
>>         10 from Central Mich U Surplus Sale
>> Message-ID: <0d45b63c-7393-96f6-bade-b42c3c852b7e at oryx.us>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed
>> I have them on my personal archive.
>> Not that I have spent a significant sum, but I have purchased several SATA
>> controllers, and have not had luck yet on SPARC base systems.
>> I'm up for another round of this if everyone else is.
>> If someone has a HDD controller in their SPARC system, with SATA drives
>> *successfully* hanging off of it, please share.
>> Jerry
> Forgive this rather long post, but SATA-with-SPARC and the Ultra-10 in
> general are worthy of it!
> Since 2013, I have been using a SUperSSpeed S301 SLC SATA drive as the
> primary drive in my 1993 SPARCstation-10 (!), via
> an ACARD ARS-2160S SATA-to-68pin-Ultra160-SCSI adaptor drive-size box, in
> turn via an Antares Microsystems 20-050-0061
> single-ended Wide-Ultra-SCSI SBus card, all mounted internally without any
> case mods needed.
> This is *waaay* faster than even 68-pin Wide-Fast-SCSI rotating rust HDDs
> attached to a SunSwift SBus card. This is in spite of
> the fact that the SS10 (180MHz CPUs on 40 MHz mainbus with 20 MHz SBus)
> cannot drive the SSD disk at anywhere near it's maximum
> I/O rate... it is still vastly better than an HDD.
> Although there several makes of SATA-SCSI adaptor, due caution is needed.
> Addonics made a truly awful one, couldn't get much better than 600Kb/s
> and 75 IOPS through it, even with an SSD, which rendered it a rather
> pointless item - my 1996 direct-attach SCSI HDDs (Quantum LPS525S) can do
> that!
> There are also several models from ACARD, all are either pretty good or
> *very* good. The ARS-2160 and ARS-3120 adaptors are handy because they are
> compatible with both LVD SCSI and Single-Ended SCSI, which gives extra
> flexibility when choosing the SCSI HBA card you'll need.
> Only thing to watch out for is to get the right connector-variant: the
> ARS-2130S and ARS-2160H use 80-pin SCA SCSI connectors, whereas the
> ARS-3120 (no "S")
> and ARS-2160 (no "H") have 68-pin SCSI connectors - which is most likely
> what you would want for internal drives/cables in an Ultra-10 etc.
> Downside is that these adaptors are not cheap (although compared to HDD
> prices way back in 1993, they are!).
> https://www.span.com/product/Acard-Bridge-Box-ARS-2160-2-5-SATA-device-to-SCSI-LVD-160mb-68pin~26221
> https://www.span.com/product/Acard-Bridge-Box-ARS-2320-2-5-SATA-device-to-SCSI-LVD-320mb-68pin~26223
> You might be able to grovel some up on ebay or Amazon a little bit cheaper.
> At the risk of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, you would want a
> "Sun-bootable" SCSI card to go with it - one with OpenBOOT Forth ROM chip,
> rather than a PC-BIOS ROM chip. Several "PC" SCSI PCI cards will work, but
> only for secondary storage, not to boot the system. If you are going to
> get a Sun-branded SCSI card, make sure it is LVD-SCSI or Single-ended SCSI:
> HVD SCSI is not supported by the adaptors and will damage them.
> One thing to watch for when doing this in a Sun SPARC system, the Solaris
> "poweroff" command doesn't explicitly flush SCSI device buffers, so will
> sometimes
> cause filesystem corruption. For my SS10, I wrote a small C program that
> issues "SCSI flush device buffer" commands, and edited the /etc/rc5 script
> to invoke it
> as the last thing it does before "init" cuts the power - and then remember
> to use "init 5" to power-off the system rather than "poweroff". Using "init
> 0" then manually
> flipping the power-switch is also OK, "init 0" *does* issue an explicit
> "SCSI flush device buffer" command to SCSI disks.
> The alternative to this all this malarkey would be to use an SSD with a
> supercap.
> For the Ultra-10, there is also a rather complex graphics situation (two
> differently-behaving versions of the on-board ATI Rage chipset, depending
> on motherboard revision -
> the original ones cannot do simultaneous 8-bit and 24-bit colour so can
> result in colour-flashing; and some users maintain that the on-board
> graphics performance is usable
> but just barely).  Long and short of it is that getting either a (vertical)
> Sun Creator UPA graphics card or a Raptor-GFX8P PCI graphics card (Solaris
> 2.6 and later have built-in
> drivers for those) is a much better bet. In principle you could even put a
> single-board UPA Elite-3D card in there, but that might be going a bit too
> far!
> Finally, if anyone wants to take my spare 440MHz Ultra-5/10 CPU (with 2Mb
> L2 cache) off my hands, drop me a line. It reliably long-term overclocks to
> 472MHz with just a couple of OBP commands.
> Regards,
> Mike Spooner
> http://mbus.sunhelp.org
> _______________________________________________
> rescue list - http://www.sunhelp.org/mailman/listinfo/rescue
Thanks, there's some really good info in there.

As best I can tell, using these adapters mostly hinges on having or 
finding a LVD/single ended ultra SCSI sbus card, which seems pretty hard 
to find. The HVD X1065A is cheap and common but not much help.

I haven't seen a way to use a SATA drive adapter yet for fast-wide scsi, 
which I think would be the situation on a SPARCStation-20 or using the 
fairly easy to find SunSwift card (the SS-20 having the further problem 
of the 80 pin SCA connector). On my SS-20, I used the 50 pin connector 
intended for the CDROM to run a SCSI2SD card, which seems to work.

By the way, on the fast SCSI front, about a year ago a new rev (v6) of 
the SCSI2SD card came out which supports higher speeds and claims to 
come closer to the potential 10 mb/sec fast SCSI, whereas v5 came in at 
about 1.5 mb/sec. Either is probably fine for the slower SPARCs, 
especially given the cost and convenience of swapping SD cards easily, 
but I'd think a SATA drive would have better endurance, at least. I 
haven't tried this newer version yet but if I do I'll post a comparison.


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