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The Sun Fire 280R is the designated replacement for the Sun Enterprise 250. Like its earlier kin, the Sun Enterprise 220R and Enterprise 420R, it's essentially a rackmounted workstation, in this case a rackmounted Sun Blade 2000, though it does have dual redundant power supplies. The only real difference other than the case, is a modified Open Firmware image.

Specifications

  • Production dates: 2001-2005. Officially superceded by the Sun Fire V210 and Sun Fire V240.
  • Application architecture: sun4
  • System architecture: sun4u
  • Processor: 2 UltraSPARC-IIICu at 750, 800, 900, 1050, 1100 or 1200MHz. All modules have 8MB of L2 cache.
  • RAM: 8 DIMM sockets, 8GB max..
  • Graphics: Normally none. 4 PCI and 2 UPA slots are available.
  • UPA graphics options: Sun Creator/Creator3D, Elite3D, XVR-1000, Expert3D UPA version.
  • PCI graphics options: Sun PGX32, PGX64, XVR-100, Expert3D Lite, Expert3D PCI, XVR-500, XVR-600, XVR-1200. TechSource Raptor GFX various PCI cards. Some other PCI graphics cards may work under operating systems other than Solaris, but do not have boot support.
  • Hard Drives: 4 SCA-40 bays for Fibre Channel disks, 1" height.
  • Audio capabilities: None. PCI sound cards are available.
  • Expansion:
    • 1 5 1/4" drive bay, usually occupied by a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. Most SCSI CD-RW and DVD+-RW drives work.
    • 4 PCI slots, 1 64-bit/66MHz, 2 64-bit/33MHz, 1 32-bit/66MHz.
    • 2 UPA slots, vertical.
  • External ports:
    • 1 PC-style parallel port
    • 2 RS232 high-speed serial port, DB25 female (230kbps maximum)
    • 1 RJ45 Fast Ethernet port (Sun ERI)
    • 4 USB 1.1 ports
    • 68-pin Ultra2 SCSI

What the Fire 280R did, and what it can do now

The Fire 280R was designed as an entry-level or mid-range server for enterprise LAN environments, and also as a rack-mounted workstation for use in high-density environments. Oddly, there was also a rack-mounting kit for the Blade 1000 and Blade 2000.

With its high CPU power and extensive expansion capability, the 280R makes a solid server for most any purpose. Many of them saw use as web, mail, database and proxy servers. Acting as an application server for Sun Ray or Javastation thin clients was a common use as well.

So, what operating systems can it run?

Solaris was the original OS for the 280R. Solaris 8 is the earliest practical version, as is the case for all USB-equipped Suns. Nowadays, Solaris 10 is highly recommended unless there's a specific reason to use an earlier version. Linux is another good choice, especially if you don't need graphics. The various BSD variants work, too, though SMP is only supported on FreeBSD and OpenBSD.

Finding one, and how much you should expect to pay.

The Fire 280R was quite popular in its day, and was sold widely. Because it's rather recent and fairly high-spec, not a lot of them have appeared on the used market. Therefore, prices tend to be fairly high. If you can find one inexpensively, though, the Sun Fire 280R is a good way to get some serious enterprise capability in a fairly small space. Its ability to double as a rackmounted workstation makes the Fire 280R quite useful for those seeking to gain knowledge of Unix systems.

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