Pump up your SPARCstation 5 to 160 MHz
Fujitsu offers TurboSPARC upgrade module for 400,000 SPARCstation 5s
This month Fujitsu offers Sun users an upgrade module based on its new 160-MHz TurboSPARC processor. It is pin-to-pin and binary compatible with the microSPARC II, and SPARCstation 5s with 70-, 85-, or 110-MHz microSPARC-IIs are all likely candidates for the switcheroo. The TurboSPARC module has 16 kilobytes of on-chip cache, 512 kilobytes of secondary cache, and DRAM control interfaces. It is fully compatible with Solaris and SunOS, and the installation does not require any system modifications such as memory upgrades.
TurboSPARC's SPECint92 relative performance is 132 compared with 75 for a 110-MHz SPARCstation 5, 65 for a 85-MHz SPARCstation 5, and 57 for a 70-MHz SPARCstation 5.
Of course, swap offerings are hardly revolutionary. Weitek Corp. and Ross Technology have long been involved in the SPARC upgrade market. Weitek, however, has phased out its SPARC upgrade business, and Rave Computer Association has taken over its sales and support.
Until now, upgrade options for SPARCstation 5 users, short of buying a new system, involved upgrading the entire chassis through Sun to its latest UltraSPARC line or buying Ross' hyperSTATION upgrade kit. Ross' motherboard options for the SPARCstation 5 range from a single, 100-MHz processor to quad, 142-MHz processor versions. All motherboards are upgradeable, and each model has four available SBus slots for more expansion. List pricing spans from $5,186 to $23,795.
Fujitsu hopes to tap into the estimated installed base of 400,000 SPARCstation 5s and compete on pricing. Its new upgrade module is priced starting at $1,500. There are two available module kits. The Starter Kit includes the TurboSPARC module, Open Boot PROM, electrostatic device wrist strap, installation guide, and chip and PROM extraction tool. The Basic Kit includes the module, Open Boot PROM, and quick install card. Socketed SPARCstation 5 motherboards are user-upgradeable, while non-socketed versions must be handled by the service provider.
The TurboSPARC upgrade kits will be available from distributors and value-added resellers like Workstation Technologies and Falcon Systems.
Fujitsu also recently introduced its 170-MHz TurboSPARC CPU. It has 16 kilobytes of instruction cache, 16 kilobytes of data cache, and up to 1 megabyte of secondary cache. Vendors including RDI Computer Corp., Force Computers, Tatung Science and Technology, Opus Systems, and Tadpole Technology have either implemented or have plans to use TurboSPARC technology in their products. Those that have already debuted are RDI's PowerLite Turbo 170 SPARC notebook, Opus Systems' Turbo SPARCard 5, and Force Computers' SPARC CPU-7V. --Carolyn W.C. Wong
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