I don’t do this very often, but I’m turning to you, lovely reader, with a rather strange, obscure, and possibly entirely stupid question. As part of the first major OSNews Patreon project, I’m looking to buy and write several articles about one of the last proper UNIX workstations, and two companies immediately come to mind – SGI and Sun. Since I’m already halfway familiar with Sun’s hardware, and since their machines are more readily available, I’ve opted to look for a proper Sun SPARC workstation.
The last true Sun UNIX workstation was the Sun Ultra 45, available with either one or two UltraSPARC IIIi processors. While these 15 year old machines are certainly readily available on eBay, they also happen to command what I think are crazy prices – the dual processor model, which is really the one you should want, goes for about €1200, which is far too pricey for what you get, and that’s excluding shipping, which often adds another several hundred dollars (and possible import taxes, to boot).
However, do you know what type of SPARC machines are not crazy expensive, and far newer, faster, and more modern to boot? That’s right – decommissioned Oracle and Fujitsu SPARC servers.
There’s tons of videos and articles out there about people buying decommissioned dual or more Xeon servers, slapping a modern graphics card in them, and use them as impractical, slow, and loud workstations or gaming machines. Basically, I want to do the same – buy something like a Sparc T4-1 server, slap some compatible GPU in it somewhere, and use it as a more impractical, slower, and louder workstation.
My question is simple. Is it possible to do this, and if so, how on earth would I find out which GPU is even compatible with Solaris or Linux on SPARC? There seems to be very little information available about this use case (I wonder why) and I’m at a loss as to how to figure something like this out.
And yes, I know this is stupid. I know this makes no sense. I know no sane person would do this. I know the world will lose nothing if I do not do this. However, if nobody wants to make proper non-x86 UNIX workstations anymore and eBay sellers want to charge a ridiculous premium for 15 year old junkers, why don’t we just build our own non-x86 UNIX workstation?
The Wrights brothers didn’t listen to all the haters, and considering this project would make about as much noise as a passenger jet, why should I? And wouldn’t you want to be part of this crazy journey? I mean, do you know anyone else crazy enough to even entertain a ridiculous, impractical, and stupid idea such as this?
I thought so.