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unix workstation

Don Gilbert gilbertd at sunflower.bio.indiana.edu
Tue Feb 15 11:15:37 EST 1994

I prefer Sun Sparcstations, for their wide availability (it
is easier to find Unix software compatible w/ Sun that
other Unix flavors, in general), and for their hardware
reliability (in a small number of Sun workstations, I haven't
had any problem other than the common disk problems seen
w/ any hard disks, also others comment positively on Sun hardware
reliability).  Their price is generally from the lowest (under
$5K for a Sparc LX or Classic, about same power as a fast Mac Quadra
or fast Intel 486/Pentium) to the midrange ($15K for our Sparc 10
model 41 about 3x faster than LX, and can add processors at
about $5K each -- this machine handles our dept. 400 accounts
and GCG & other unix sequence analysis software) to the newer
multiprocessor SparcCenter 1000, with up to 8 processors
at up to about $65K university price.  I'd like one of these,
and think they would work well to handle the multiple processes
that our dept. sparc handles, plus do things like handle well
some multi-threaded cpu hogs like fastdnaml.

Sun hardware is also so similar in general to the Mac hardware I
support, that maintaining both of them isn't a big burden for me --
when a Sun needs more disk space I order from the same SCSI disk
seller as for Macs, likewise for extra memory, or ethernet connectors.

Silicon Graphics also makes machines that are common in biocomputing
circles, esp. for 3D graphics.  My reserve about them is the one
we have has had many hardware problems, and their variant of
Unix isn't quite as adaptable as SunOS (but then the newer Sun
Solaris 2 is another hassle).  You will also be paying a bit
of a premium for the 3D graphics stuff that you may not need.

DEC boxes based on their fast, egg-frying ALPHA chip are also a
mainstream cost-effective Unix box.

HP's fast,inexpensive machines suffer some from running a variant of Unix
that is less popular and can suffer porting problems, from what
I've heard.

Likewise IBM's fast RS6000 boxes also have a variant of Unix that can cause
porting problems.

Sun and SGI offer multiprocessor boxes at relatively low cost.  Sometimes
multiprocessor machines can be a very cost effective way to get more
computing power in a multi-user, multi-tasking situation, such as
a departmental server.

First take a look at what software you want to run, then see which Unix
variants support that software.  

-- don
-- d.gilbert--biocomputing--indiana u--bloomington--gilbertd at bio.indiana.edu

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