prom monitor


The Sun386i (codenamed Roadrunner) was a hybrid UNIX workstation/PC compatible computer system produced by Sun Microsystems, launched in 1988. It was based on the Intel 80386 microprocessor but shared many features with the contemporary Sun-3 series systems.


Unlike the Sun-3 models, the Sun386i had a PC-like motherboard and "mini-tower"-style chassis. Two variants were produced, the Sun386i/150 and the Sun386i/250 with a 20 or 25 MHz CPU respectively. The motherboard included the CPU, 80387 FPU, 82380 timer/DMA/interrupt controller and a custom Ethernet IC called BABE ("Bus Adapter Between Ethernet"). Floppy disk, SCSI, RS-232 and Centronics parallel interfaces were also provided, as were four ISA slots (one 8-bit, three 16-bit) and four proprietary 32-bit "local" bus slots. The latter were used for RAM and frame buffer cards.

Two type of RAM card were available, a 4 or 8MB card, and the "XP Cache" card, incorporating up to 8MB with an 82385 cache controller and 32 kB of cache SRAM. Up to two memory cards could be installed, to give a maximum RAM capacity of 16MB.

Mass storage options were either 91 or 327 MB internal SCSI hard disks and a 1.4 MB 3.5 in floppy drive. A storage expansion box that holds two more disks could be mounted to the top of the chassis.

Frame buffer options included the 1024x768 or 1152x900-pixel monochrome BW2 card, the 8-bit color CG3 with similar resolutions, or the accelerated 8-bit color CG5, otherwise known as the Roadracer or GXi framebuffer. This used the TI TMS34010 graphics processor and had a resolution of 1152x900.

The 386i introduced the Sun Type 4 keyboard, a hybrid of the earlier Type 3 and PC/AT layouts. This was later used for the SPARCstation line of workstations.


The Sun386i's firmware was similar to the Sun-3's "PROM Monitor". A 386 port of SunOS was the native operating system of the 386i. SunOS releases 4.0, 4.0.1 and 4.0.2 supported the architecture. A beta version of SunOS 4.0.3 for the 386i also existed but was not officially released. Included with SunOS were the SunView GUI and VP/ix MS-DOS emulator. This ran as a SunOS process and thus allowed multiple MS-DOS session to be run simultaneously, a major selling point of the Sun386i.


An upgraded model, the Sun486i (codename Apache) was designed, incorporating a 25 MHz 80486 CPU and improved SCSI interface. A small pre-production batch were built but this model was canceled in 1990, before its official launch.

Easter Egg

The inside surface of the right side cover has the Roadrunner logo and the developer's signatures molded in.


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