Solbourne Compatability/Scavenging information

You can intermix some Sun and Solbourne components, others you have to tweak, and still many others are totally non-interchangeable.

Obviously, it's impossible to use any KBus boards in *any* Sun system, since the KBus is proprietary to Solbourne. However, since they both share VME bus (Solbourne 600/700/900 systems) and SBus (IDT systems), there are some boards/parts which will operate in either environment.

Directly Interchangeable Items

The following items should be directly interchangeable without modification between Sun and Solbourne systems that support these devices.

SIMM Memory

The IDT systems used 30 pin parity 1 or 4MB 100ns or faster SIMMs. These could be used in SPARCstation 1, Sun 4/100, or Sun 4/300 series.


Generally Disks are Disks. You'd most probably have good luck trying to interchange them. However, see the IDT sections on SCSI for information on ASYNC SCSI problems with certain disks.


Mice *are* interchangeable to some extent, whereas keyboards are completely not interchangeable. Specifically, you may use a Sun-3 J11 type mouse with the "Cherry" keyboard. However, you generally will need to use "xset" to "speed up" the mouse due to the lower resolution of the Sun-3 mouse.
	% xset m 5/1
is the setting i use.

Xylogics 753

the 753 SMD controller can be used in Sun systems where it appears functionally identical to the Sun 7053 board. Since the 7053 board is a 9U board, and the 753 is a 6U card, you will need a VME 3x2 (6U to 9U) adapter board.

Floppy disk drives

The floppy subsystem is identical to Sun's (at least for the SS1, 1+, and 2), so all parts are interchangeable there.

SBus Ethernet boards

You can use the sun X453A ethernet board in the Solbourne IDT systems w/o problem.

Interphase V/SCSI 4210/4220 "cougar"

Usable on Suns, requires Sun specific device drivers available from Interphase's ftp site.

Interphase V/FDDI 4211 "peregrine"

The Interphase FTP site has SunOS 4.1.1+ drivers for this board, so i'd guess it would work unless Solbourne tweaked the h/w.

Interchangeable but requires "tweaking" items

The following items require some small adjustments or component replacements to be interchangeable.


You can interchange monitors, but you will have to tweak those with fixed horizontal scan rates. For example, the 19" sun monochrome monitors may be used on Solbourne bw20 devices by slightly adjusting the Horizontal Sync POT. (If you don't have a clue how to do this, or are accident-prone, don't try this or you risk killing yourself on very high voltage parts within the monitor)

The sun High-Res Mono monitors are directly interchangeable.

An FAQ for the old Sun Hitachi 19" Color monitors is available here.

Interphase "Eagle" 4207 ethernet

Though the 4207 is the same board as the Sun NC600, the on-board processor (68020) ROM is wildly different. If you can obtain a Solbourne "Eagle" ROM, you can simply pop it into the slot on the NC600 and it should work. It works for us in the one case we tried, but there may be some specific board revs that cause incompatabilities.

Unknown/Possibly Interchangeable Items

General SBus boards

In general, most generic SBus boards should work, however, since OS/MP doesn't support VDDRV (loadable modules), you can't (easily) use devices that only have loadable module interfaces.

ZAP!Note :
I have looked a bit into how the kernel 'probes()' or 'inits()' a static versus loadable driver, and it looks in general doable, but i won't go into it because i'm not very knowledgeable about it, and it's not simplistic. This was to see if i could get a MAGMA SBus serial board working. I've given up and put it in my SS1 for the time being.

Non-Interchangeable Items


Don't even think about trying to interchange keyboards, because in one case the wrong keyboard will short +5 Volts to ground (best case you get a blown fuse). Mice are interchangeable to some extent.

Video FrameBuffers

There is no interchangeability here. You can use a Solbourne bw20 SBus card in a sun for the console, but it will make your nice 19" monitor an ASCII terminal, since you can't utilize the Solbourne device drivers to drive it. (the same is probably true of the sga20 color SBus card). Sun frame buffers are also not usable in the Solbourne boxes.

KBus boards of any type

Duh! (Okay, for those who haven't yet figured it out, Suns have no KBus)
last modified on Wed Jul 24 00:10:34 MDT 1996
Stephen Dowdy