Summary: multi serial i/o port (>=64) cards (still open)

From: Heiko Nardmann (
Date: Thu May 11 2000 - 03:09:17 CDT

Thanks for all your answers but I still need a solution.

Terminal server vs. adapter card:
Since we need this in an high secure environment with smart card readers

attached to the serial interfaces I ranked a terminal server not first
but second since this needs a network connection between the terminal
server and the SPARC machine. This network connection has to be secured
and documented in the security concept additionally which is unnecessary

overhead in our project in my opinion if a better solution with cards

Bus system:
Since we have to buy a new machine which fits into a 19" rack I thought
about a Sun Enterprise 420R. The "problem" with this machine is that
it offers PCI slots but no SBus.

The MaxPort product by Magma ( (128 ports) is only
available for SBus.
The SST product by Equinox ( (128 ports) is only
available for Intel Solaris.
Currently I am not able to connect to

Does anyone have further contacts which offer such tentacle beasts? ;-)


Matt Reynolds wrote:

I would use terminal servers - then all you have to do is connect via
ethernet to the Sparc and can place the terminal servers close to your
readers. See: or
Daniel Lorenzini wrote:

I think Aurora makes 64-port serial boards for Sun.
Pete Alleman wrote:

We use Digiboard (used to be CentralData) Elite16 serial interface
boards. These are serial devices that communicate over ethernet. The
drivers make the serial ports look just like any other serial interface.

You can put as many as you like on a machine. We use the 16 port
interfaces, but larger ones may be available. Since it works on
you do not use any I/O slots on the machine. It is also nice that it is
system bus independent, we use the same devices on SPARC SBUS systems,
SPARC PCI systems, and X86 systems (especially notebook computers).
Seth Rothenberg wrote:

You probably want to use terminal servers.
I have done projects like this in the past
using Cabletron terminal servers, but there are many companies
to choose from. We used Terminal server cards in a
cabletron hub. Each card supported 16 ports, and there
are a number of hub configurations, so you can support
the 8-12 cards you would need.
Gary Jenson wrote:

My company uses serial interfaces for several different products, and we

have gone to using the digi etherlite. They are network devices, from 2
32 ports, with RJ45 connectors. Digi provides pinouts for a typical DTE
DCE serial connection, and then you can build a custom modular kit
(RJ45) to
DB25, or whatever your physical connection is, to complete the correct
pinouts. We use regular cat5 wiring to get from the etherlite serial
out to the actual device, and then put on a modular jack kit that we
figured out to work. These are nice, well behaved serial ports (as well

behaved as anything is on solaris, curse those over-achieving sacadm
people.) If I can see data on a PC with Hyperterm, then I have pretty
probability of being able to plug on the etherlite port and still be
able to
see data come across.
The 2-port lists for $495, the 32 port for $1995.
There is also a scsi version of these, but I haven't played with them
as much. I very much like the flexibility of putting these devices out
the network, when you have too far to go for regular serial connections.

The serial ports just show up as /dev/ttyNxx to the OS. You can do
you want with them. They are real simple devices, which has paid off
for us.
Russ Poffenberger wrote:

You might be hard pressed to find a single card with more than 16 or 32
so you would need multiple cards, and you might be limited on the number
available slots in a single system. You didn't say what type of system,
so that
makes a difference (SBUS vs. PCI).

One possiblity are the SCSI based terminal servers available from
Central Data.
You won't be limited by the the number of slots, but SCSI addresses.
They DO
have PCI systems that they say expand to 64 ports. Go to
Matthew Stier wrote:

You don't mention what model SPARC system you are using.

I've had good luck with direct attached products from Magma, and network

attached products from Digi. (PortServer's and PortServer II's.)
Mike Mehran Salehi wrote:

I think your best bet is a terminal server. I have not used one
with such a high number, but ours has 12 ports.
Jay Lessert wrote:

In the US, Aurora Technologies <> and Magma
<> are two popular vendors. They both have
SBus-based serial port products in that size range. You can do more
looking around

Heiko Nardmann (Dipl.-Ing.),, Software Development

secunet Security Networks AG - Sicherheit in Netzwerken (, Weidenauer Str. 223-225, D-57076 Siegen Tel. : +49 271 48950-13, Fax : +49 271 48950-50

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