No RISC No Fun
OpenPA is an independent technical resource on PA-RISC and Itanium workstations, servers, architecture and operating systems. OpenPA has been online since 1999.
The PA-RISC information is structured in three main sections with almost 100 subpages that have been compiled over two decades:
- Design: The computers covered by this site are based on HP PA-RISC architecture and processors from the 1980s to 2000s. Most of the chipsets and system designs used were custom HP for its PA-RISC servers and workstations.
- Computers: Many different PA-RISC computers were produced between the 1980s and 2000s, the majority from HP in its HP 9000 range of servers, workstations and mainframes. Over 245 systems covered on OpenPA.
- Software: A broad range of Unix operating systems has been available over the years for PA-RISC workstations and servers, from HP-UX to Mach and BSD, with fifteen operating systems detailed here.
The information is based mostly on primary sources such as HP and PA-RISC technical reference manuals, handbooks and architecture documents. It has been correlated with secondary sources like articles, news releases and journals, most of which disappeared in the 2010s. OpenPA is independent of and does not represent HP in any way.
Much has happened since the founding years of this PA-RISC information site in long-gone 1999, so some historiography on OpenPA is in order, more detailed in About OpenPA.
It all started in 1999 when second-hand PA-RISC systems became affordable after being phased out for Windows NT or Linux. Not much PA-RISC information was easily available on the web then — Google just started and Wikipedia did not exist yet. The most active phase of OpenPA were the years of 1999-2004 with most original content written.
OpenPA updates tapered off between 2005-2008 with a spike in 2008 producing lots of new content on 64-bit PA-RISC. Update frequency and additions stalled considerably between 2009 and 2017 with mostly low-intensity maintenance and reordering content. Beginning in 2018, many pages were updated, much outdated text rewritten and some bad ideas from previous decades reversed.
There have been over 120 news entries for major changes to OpenPA over the years:
|1999||Started||PA-RISC overview from the 90s||Frames,
|2000||7||HP 9000 700s, operating systems||Hosted at sunhelp|
|2001||7||32-bit processors, hardware, more systems||mickey@ appeared|
|2002||21||BSD, A/B/C/J lettered-systems, some 64-bit, X-Terms||Renamed, own server|
|2003||30||Complete 64-bit, four-digit systems, 3rd-party, more OS|
|2004||14||Benchmarks, FOCUS, graphics, SCSI, architecture||Complete revamp, CSS|
|2006||4||Final PA-RISCs - Mako, C8000||Print version|
|2007||3||History, small updates||Limited paperback|
|2008||18||Mainframe/Cell, Itanium, 1980s PA-RISC, others|
|2009||3||CPU and I/O architecture, much cleanup||10y anniversary|
|2012||1||Print version update|
|2014||1||Cleanup and housekeeping|
|2015||2||Handle disappearing sources and documents|
|2016||6||Restructure chipset content, timeline, cleanup|
|2018||3||PA-RISC story, OS updates, disappearing sources||Cloud move|
|2020||3||Agilent PA-RISC, many systems updates|
|2021||2||Content mopup, OS history||Backend mopup|
Operating systems for PA-RISC computers have a history that started in the 1980s in parallel to the release of early PA-RISC servers and computers. Many Unix and similar operating systems were made available, first the early commercial HP-UX PA-RISC releases, followed by a plethora of research and development projects centered around the Mach microkernel and BSD Unix versions.
The heydays of PA-RISC operating systems were certainly in the 1990s with broad support and variety in concepts. During the early 2000s with the roadmap to 64-bit computing fulfilled, supported peaked in the commercial HP-UX 11.* releases. Significant support in mainstream open source projects got traction in the early to mid-2000s, with solid Linux and OpenBSD support in that decade.
The OpenPA frontend and backend have been cleaned and streamlined, plus the design was adjusted slightly for the 21st century.
OpenPA has witnessed four decades now, beginning with the birth of this site at the tail-end of the wild 1990s. The intense 2000s were the most active OpenPA years, where most of the PA-RISC content was written. Interest in PA-RISC and generally in non-mainstream IT platforms tapered off in the 2010s — making OpenPA rather dormant in that decade, with a few ideas left for the fourth decade of the 2020s:
- Superdome pages, focused on the PA-RISC versions
- rp74* and rp84* server system pages
- Proper article on PA-RISC operating systems history
- More Itanium rx computer pages
- Article on the PA-RISC to Itanium transition
- More information on PA-RISC in non-HP computers
We will see if any of that will be realized.
Download the OpenPA Book of PA-RISC
(PDF, 991 KB, 350 pages, 2022, V2.8)
Includes all content from the OpenPA Winter 2021/2022 online version.
OpenPA RSS feed with all news.