NTT Indy Mysteries

Elf

Storybook
Feb 4, 2019
66
12
8
A while back when visiting an ex-SGI employee, I obtained three NTT Indys. These were not the usual "branded" configuration of the Indy, but instead are black with the NTT logo, and are in a set-top box configuration with an IR port on front and a custom video board, with composite outputs and an ATM network connection.

The story about these NTT Indys that I was told, was that SGI collaborated with NTT (the Japanese telecom) to develop them as an ATM video conferencing solution. NTT would provide the ATM network, and SGI would provide the hardware. The ex-SGI employee I talked to was a member of the project (as well as the WebForce project, etc.). Apparently the video conferencing initiative never panned out, but he still had three of the prototype units.

I will put up pictures eventually (and Ciao has some, as well as one of the units I gave to him), however it's worth noting that it's not just the hardware in these units that is custom, but also the boot PROM as well.

Here is what is presented over the serial console at boot time:
Code:
PROM Export Version 2.7
Init took 629 msec

PROM menu

1) Boot settop
2) Enter PROM monitor
r) Restart PROM

Option?
The machines want to boot over the network and do not contain a hard drive or any local IRIX installation:
Code:
Option? 1
Starting settop download.
Loading params bootp()nt:bootparams.08:00:69:09:46:f8
Cannot open 'bootk(nt:bootparams.08:00:69:09:46:f8)nt:tvkern' - server not responding
bootk(nt:bootparams.08:00:69:09:46:f8)nt:tvkern: boot error - server not responding
  
PROM menu
[...]
PROM monitor options and environment variables are somewhat different...
Code:
Option? 2
PROM monitor, type 'exit' to return to menu.
>> help
Commands, args within [] are optional
  setenv [-p] var val           - Set environment variable
  unsetenv var ...              - Remove environment variable(s)
  printenv [var ...]            - Print environment variable(s)
  resenv [-p]                   - Reset environment variables and NVRAM
  version                       - print verbose version of PROM
  date                          - Print date of RTC chip
  boot                          - boot system ($bootdev/$bootfile)
  off                           - Power-down
  hinv                          - Hardware inventory
  exit                          - Return to PROM menu
  res                           - Restart PROM
  resa                          - Reset ATMizer
  loada [-d] bootp()[host:]file.xx [[bootp()[host:]]file.cnf]
                                - Load ATMizer code
  help                          - Print command overview
  ?                             - Print command overview
Devices, args within [] are optional
  bootp()[host:]file
  bootk([[host:]paramsfile])[host:]kernel
  boota([bootvpi],[bootvci])[host:][kernel]
>> printenv
dbaud=9600
rbaud=14400
netaddr=208.99.99.2
eaddr=08:00:69:09:46:f8
autoload=n
console=d
bootdev=bootk(nt:bootparams.08:00:69:09:46:f8)
bootfile=nt:tvkern
vcxo=0x7ed
volume=87
nbootries=9999
passwd
interactive=y
tvmode=ntsc
usedebugger=1
ng1=ntsc
ide=g
logtype=3
logsize=512
verbose=BT
noir=1
ipfsn=0
>>
They also output a bit of video out from the composite graphics port, which I will capture and upload here along with pictures of the unit, at a later date.
 

Elf

Storybook
Feb 4, 2019
66
12
8
It's also worth mentioning that Ciao's unit has some problems with the serial console that mine does not. I suspect timing issues, as the text is often corrupted / garbled, with occasionally readable sections. Perhaps a slipping UART clock?

In any case, as can be seen by the scope capture below, the async serial timing on mine is pretty good! 104.3us is 9588 baud; of a 9600 baud target, well in tolerance.

2
 

Elf

Storybook
Feb 4, 2019
66
12
8
It is definitely on my to-do list to dump ROMs before I let any more prototypes/oddities go.
 

Elf

Storybook
Feb 4, 2019
66
12
8
From what I saw it doesn't output any video over the 13W3 connector but it's worth a 2nd look.
 

Elf

Storybook
Feb 4, 2019
66
12
8
The composite output comes from a separate board that isn't a regular graphics adapter and thus would not show the PROM boot menu or any IRIX boot messages / login screen. There is likely special software and drivers on whatever the netbooted image would be that determine what to display from the composite output and how to deal with the inputs.

Ciao took a picture of the composite output, below:
125
 

TriOx

New member
Aug 1, 2019
9
6
3
I had one of these set top boxes, back in the day, but it didn't have a black case. The case was normal Indy blue but zero badges or logos. At the time I was looking for R4400 and R5k cpu modules and remember being quite dis-appointed with both the R4600-133 and the video board not being usable in Irix.