Behind the simple but not-unappealing website of Brutman Labs, there are some surprising features and statistics. In a recent update posted to the site, it was revealed that the server behind the web destination has run for an impressive “2,500 hours of continuous runtime.” However, probably far more eyebrow-raising is the fact that the web server is a 39-year-old IBM PCjr that’s packing a 4.77 MHz CPU.
The Brutman Labs web page is subtitled “retrocomputing performance art,” and we think that may be due to the incongruence between the ancient hardware and the capable and steady web serving achieved. At the time of writing, the server status page reveals that the beige IBM computing fossil has continuously been doing its duty for 2,541 hours+. That is over 105 days straight, with no restarts.
The achievement outlined above deserves closer inspection, so what are the specs behind the BrutmanLabs.Org server? You can see the hardware and software listed in the image below:
The 39-year-old IBM PCjr acting as a web server here has had some significant modernizations. Probably the biggest upgrade has been delivered to the storage subsystem, with an IDE adapter and a 240GB SATA SSD installed. Also, the RAM is maxed out to 736 KB, which may have been unusual on this machine 39 years ago. Nevertheless, the beating heart of this system remains the NEC V20 CPU, a chip that is code and pin compatible with the fabled Intel 8088, running at 4.77 MHz.
If you visit BrutmanLabs.Org today, the machine serving the web pages you read is served by this old very IBM PCjr. The site is also worth visiting for lots of information on related and side projects.
Brutman Labs Server Uptime in Context
It may be impressive that the retro-server mentioned above has been continuously running for 2,541+ hours, or 105+ days, but it is just a minnow in the uptime league tables.
Last month we reported an AMD Epyc Rome bug, which the red team admitted could cause “a core to hang after about 1,044 days.” That’s about 2.93 years. The issue that affected second-gen Epyc processors meant a workaround of restarting your system more regularly than every 1,044 days was suggested. Alternatively, users could disable the CC6 sleep state.
Sadly for Epyc Rome users, AMD’s bug meant systems based around the CPU wouldn’t have a chance to rank highly in the uptime league. 2.93 years might sound like a long time between restarts, but the computer in the Voyager spacecraft has been running for over 48 years (and counting) without a reboot, for example. If we look at only terrestrial computers, the record seems to be over 16 years for a server decommissioned in 2018.
If you have a computer system uptime you are proud of; it may be worth comparing notes with the throng on the uptimeporn subreddit. These listings aren’t just for computers, but for all kinds of devices. We noticed a fascinating post about a Cisco router, which was claimed to have run continuously for over 19 years.