A bit more about John
General Things

Some people would say it's a monster from another time...

...I think it's a 'real server'!

John is a Sun 3/260. Sun 3's are the line of 68020/30-based systems Sun built before they switched to the Sparc. Though slow for today's standards, they're still very reliable and solid machines (imagine how your el-cheapo PC would look like after 10 years!).

The Sun 3/260 is one of the large, VME-bus based systems intended to be used as file servers. It's a LARGE,HEAVY case with 4 wheels on the bottom, a power supply almost in the kilowatt range and space in abundance. There are 12 slots for extension boards, and space for at least one 8 inch hard drive is available (currently unused, see picture below). The CPU is a Motorola MC68020 clocked at 25 MHz with a Motorola MC68881 FPU, running at 20 MHz.

Originally, John was a 3/160, a slower (and older) Sun 3 server with a 16 MHz CPU. It was upgraded to a 3/260 by swapping the CPU and memory boards.

Of the 12 slots, currently only a few are occupied: The CPU board with Ethernet and monochrome video (unused), 4 memory extension boards each with 8 Mbytes, a color graphics card and the SCSI controller. The latter is a bit special, but we will come to this later.

Below is a photo of John, together with the 1152x900 monochrome monitor and an external QIC-150 streamer. This photo is outdated (I have a color monitor in the meantime), and I will replace it RSN.

Overall picture of John

Noticed that little bird at the front? Well, in Germany, there are these 'Surprise Eggs', chocolate eggs with a little plastic toy inside as surprise. The bird came from such an egg (that really fits :-) ) and had bad luck that I had a bottle of glue in my hand when he stepped by...if cars have a figure on their front why should a Server not have something similar?

As I already said, the SCSI card is a bit special: John is probably the only 3/260 with a FileCard, i.e. a disk drive directly screwed onto the controller card. Modern hard disks in the Gigabyte range have gotten smaller than the Sun/3 engineers probably ever thought, so there's now enough space for a 3.5 inch, one inch height hard disk (an IBM DCAS32160 in this case):

John's file card

Some technical data from the Hardware Installation Manual for the Sun-3/160 SunStation:

Needless to say, such large systems generate a considerable amount of heat and need careful room planning to avoid failures. We solved this problem by installing an advanced air conditioning system that leaves nothing to be desired:

John's file card

© Alfred Arnold 1998