The Challenge S is the server variant of the Indy workstation, utilizing the same basic hardware. It has some minor differences that make it different from the Indy in terms of hardware support, but is structurally similar.
The Challenge S is a small desktop (dimensions 41 x 36 x 8 centimetres) server with a slightly darker case compared to the Indy. Inside the hardware is nearly identical: power supplies; processor modules; hard disks; memory; and GIO32 cards are all interchangeable between the systems. On the rear, the Challenge S lacks video input/output, PS/2 ports and the RJ11 Ethernet port. All of this necessitates using the AUI connector or the mezzanine NIC (which doesn't work in the PROM) for connectivity.
The processors are supplied on the same processor modules used on the Indy and are otherwise identical.
The system takes standard 72-pin SIMMS (gold plated SIMMS are recommended to avoid dielectric corrosion) and can take anywhere from as low as 16MB to 256MB, these must be added in sets of 4 at a time since the computer is 64-bits and each SIMM is a 16-bit module.
The Challenge S cannot accept any graphics hardware.
For networking, the Challenge S has an on-board AUI and an ISDN port, the ethernet twisted pair/rj11 jack was omitted presumably for cost reasons. 10/100Mb cards are available on the used market for faster connection speeds.
The Challenge S has two drive bays for 1-inch tall 3.5" drives. The upper drive bay is externally accessible and may hold a SCSI floptical drive. All external and internal drives share a single Fast SCSI bus (unless a GIO32 SCSI card has been installed). External CD-ROM drive connect via SCSI connector at rear side of the box. Typical drive supports boot, OS install, audio. Special ROM is required to boot from for certain device types.
The Challenge S' basic support came in IRIX 5.1 but that is not a recommended release. It is supported through IRIX 6.5.22, it is recommended to use one of the following releases:
- IRIX 5.3
- IRIX 6.2
- IRIX 6.5.22
IRIX 6.5.22 has the most software available, but will be slow on systems below 128MB. 6.2 and 5.3 are much lighter weight, but have their own limitations.
The component of the Challenge S most prone to failure is the power supply. Neither the Sony nor the Nidec varieties are more reliable, and both have benefits and drawbacks in power factor, cooling and cleanliness of the output.