SUMMARY: SunPCi card question

From: Mahmut Fettahlioglu (
Date: Mon Jun 14 1999 - 05:46:18 CDT

Hello sun-managers,

On previous week Friday, I posted to this list, telling we are
considering to purchase SUN PCi cards, and have asked people already
using these cards for their opinions. I have intended to summarize the
responses as soon as possible, but it came out to be quiet late, sorry.

My original message was:
> We are planning to purchase several Ultra 5 or 10 workstations (not
> decided yet), and have learned about the SUN PCi card, which enables us
> to run Window$ programs at native speed. I would like to ask you if you
> have tried and used this card successfully. What are your opinions on
> this subject?

The general attitude of the replies was wuite in favor of the cards. The
results I have obtained so far are:

Good points:
1. Unlike SunPC, SoftWindows, RealPC, WABI, VNC solutions, Sun PCi card
is a very fast, outstanding, excellent product. "Excellent card,
excellent value". Behaves and feels like a PC. Runs all PC software such
as Visual C++, Office, Oracle, IE4, Frontpage, etc.

2. Can drive an addtional monitor. It also supports DirectX in this
case. In case you have the 21" monitors which have dual inputs, you can
switch between Solaris/Win environments using front panel A/B switch.
Performance when using an X-window for display is not bad either.

3. Emulated drives are stored as big Solaris files. So it is easy to
copy a standard installed pc configuration (to ease field deployment),
or to recover the system to a known working state, just by copying the
original file. You can also keep multiple images of emulated drives,
boot win95 with one, winnt with other; or make one image a development
platform, another a test platform, using a single card (not

4. Very easy to install, and configure.

5. Have its own serial/parallel/sb outputs.

6. Memory upgrade is possible from the default 64 MB to 128 or 256 MB.
Uses standard PC-100 SD-RAM.

7. By default there is a separate drive image file per user, which
consumes a great deal of hard disk space. But it is possible to place
the image files on NFS mounted servers (decreases performance), or you
may configure your system to have one image file per card, not user.

8. X display forwarding is possible, of course! (though you can expect
less performance). The performance decrease depends on whether the card
driver displays GUI using raw bitmap (as RealPC did), or it really
converted Win calls to X calls such as line drawing, polygon filling,
etc. No data on that.

(Matthew Stier, Scott W. Adkins, Mike Jipping, Jim Musso, David W.
Lewis, Frank Velazquez, Ray Delaney, Micheal E. Salehi, Peter, L. Wargo,, Amarjeet Singh Virdi, Mark Fromm)

Bad points:
1. People using these cards on Ultra 10, 60 or AXi machines are very
happy, but for Ultra 5, a reply told "the SunPCi fan just barely clears
the heat sinks for the Ultra 5 CPU (there is only 1 spot it will fit
inside an Ultra 5)".
2. While using CDE you lose colors during switching between unix and dos
windows. (I don't know if this is a Windows window, or a legacy DOS
3. One reply told the hard drive size is limited to 500megs, but the PDF
docs say the limit is 2GB. I have no further knowledge on this subject.
4.The client OS accesses Solaris filesystem as a network drive (by
mapping them using \\machine\directory style). This has a drawback,
because network drives cannot be "reshared" back to other PC clients in
Win OSes (in Solaris also, I think). This would be great because it
would allow the use of the Sun PCi card as a samba server (removing the
need to install and configure a separate samba server on Solaris; or the
PC clients installing a NFS client).
5. Filesystem performance is currently slow as they are using 16 bit
drivers. But they are working on 32 bit drivers.

(Scott W. Adkins,, Amarjeet Singh Virdi)

1. You can currently run Win 95 on it. Nt beta drivers have just
appeared. All people are running Win95 now and quite happy. They are
planning to try using the Nt drivers. There is no support for Win98, and
no plans to support Win98 are heard yet.
2. The card allows only one user to use it at one time, i.e. cannot run
multiple MS OS'es simultaneously(obviously).
3. It requires a separate IP address. As of current version, it cannot
communicate with the host Solaris machine through IP without using a
4. It can directly access floppy drives if Solaris volume manager is
disabled on floppy. The current version of the card can not access
CD-ROM drive directly, so apps relying on direct CD access fails. The
client OS sees the CD-ROM through Solaris filesystem. Audio CDs cannot
be run through the card either.
5. The old Sbus Sun PC cards are of acceptible performance according to
one reply, but two other replies have described Sun PC as slow and
dodgy, never working right, not upgradable, and not even worth the
6. One reply suggested Citrix Metaframe for the ultimate answer to PC
compatibility. Works right the first time, and has DOS, Mac, Unix, Java.
etc. clients. "Expensive but worth the price if you have 14+ users on

(Mikel Stous, Mike Jipping,, Scott W. Adkins, pdf

Thank you all those who have replied, and again sorry for the late
summary. Ah, by the way, we have decided to purchase Ultra 10s with Sun
PCi cards on them.

Mahmut Fettahlioglu
SCADA Systems Software Development Group

e-mail: Tel: +90-312-2101310/158 Fax: +90-312-2101315

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