A set of techniques to avoid explicit ordering go under the name of Order Independent Transparency (OIT for short).
There are lots of OIT techniques.
Historically one is Depth Peeling. In this approach you first render the front-most fragments/pixels, then you find the closest to the one found in the previous step and so forth, going on with as many "layer" as you need.
It is called depth peeling because at each pass you "peel" one layer of depth. All your layer can be then normally recombined from back to front.
To implement this algorithm you need to have a copy of the depth buffer.
Another set of techniques are the blendend OIT ones. One the most recent and interesting one is the Weighted Blended OIT proposed by McGuire and Bavoil. It basically apply a weighted sum for all the surfaces that occupies a given a fragment. The weighting scheme they propose is based on camera-space Z (as an approximation to occlusion) and opacity.
The idea is that if you can reduce the problem to a weighted sum, you don't really care about ordering.
Other than the original paper, a great resource for implementation details and problems of Weighted Blended OIT is in Matt Pettineo's blog. As you can read from his post this technique is not a silver bullet. The main problem is that the weighting scheme is central and it needs to be tuned according to your scene/content.
From his experiments, whilst the technique seems to work fine for relatively low and medium opacity, it is failing when opacity approaches 1 and so could not be used from materials where big part of the surface is opaque (he makes the example of foliage).
Again, all come down to how you tune your depth-weights and finding the ones that fit perfectly your use-cases is not necessarily trivial.
As for what is needed to for the Weighted Blended OIT, nothing more than two extra render targets. One that you fill with the premultiplied alpha color ( color * alpha) and alpha, both weighted accordingly. The other one for the weights only.