SGI purchased Cray in 1996 and sold the CRS subdivision off to Sun, presumably because development had already gone too far to use SGI's MIPS processors, and who wants a company that makes supers using someone else's processors? A year later the Starfire, with its production name of Enterprise 10000, was released. The Sun CEO, Scott McNealy, counts this business decision as one of the most profitable Sun ever made, generating billions of dollars in revenue within the first year of release, compared to the svelte $50 million Sun paid for CRS to begin with.
The Enterprise 10k is made up of a single centreplane in the lower-half of the machine, from which the 16 node boards
connect, 8 on either side. Each node board can support up to four SPARC processors (336mHz, 400mHz, 460mHz) and 4GB of
interleaved RAM. The area above this is split into a 19" standard-width rack 12U in height, and the
power/distribution/sequencing systems. The centreplane cost approximately $500,000 to replace during the system's
To fully power the E10k you require four 30A single-phase drops (Or two three-phase). Power is accepted into the four AC Power Input modules, and then fed into the eight 48v DC power supplies, which outputs the system power. Each node board has its own power regulation modules, taking the 48vDC and producing +-5vDC, +3.3vDC and +-12vDC.
Each Enterprise 10000 is front-ended by the SSP, System Service Processor. This is usually a complete Ultra 5. The SSP is responsible for telling the E10k to power on, using a dedicated UTP cable going to the E10k's Control Board. This then communicates with the local system components (power sequencers, etc) to bring the machine online. The SSP is also used to configure domains, net-boot the system and other functions. The E10k can have disk trays (D1000s usually) in its 19" rack, however the system is not able to use local storage to boot, it must pull the kernel from the network.
Pictures of trip to retrieve Sun E10k and IBM SP2 from Purdue University in Indiana - a 9 hour trip, one way.
Pics 1-7 show the well wrapped (against the driving rain of the pickup day) Sun and IBM, with the Sun's side-panel at the back. Pic 8 shows all of the Sun's node boards (quad 460mHz SPARC, 4GB RAM a piece) and miscellany inside. 9-10 have the Sun & IBM panels at rear. 11 is some spare power and fan packs for the Sun.