Subject: Re: Sun Ultra 5 UltraSPARC systems for $1,995
To: Greg Earle <earle@isolar.DynDNS.ORG>
From: None <>
List: port-sparc
Date: 10/06/1999 16:20:43
On  6-Oct-99 at 14:25, Greg Earle (earle@isolar.DynDNS.ORG) wrote:
> Pat Lashley (hi Pat!) wrote:
> > Are you sure?  I just ran through the configurator; and it looks like
> > the low end are the 360MHz boxes with 64Mb RAM and no CD-rom.  (With
> > the $75 Solaris7 RTU, it comes to $2020.)
> Well, the price drop was from $2495, so I made the tacit assumption it was
> the 333 MHz boxes.  I could be wrong, of course.

It looks like the 333s are a little more expensive than an equivalently
configured 360; presumably because of the extra cache (and the performance
boost that comes with it.)

> > With only 4Mb of video RAM, it looks like it can't support 24-bit depth
> > at 1280x1024; only at 1152x900.
> Yes, I should have mentioned that.  Although being someone who used
> 1152x900 for almost 15 years, dot dot dot ...  :-)

Oh, a newcommer, huh?   (I get to say that because the very first machine
that Sun Microsystems ever sold sat on my desk... :-)

> > Is this really true for Sun's high-end desktops, or just for the low-end
> > PCI/IDE-based ones?
> Well, obviously that depends on the criteria.  If we're talking raw
> horsepower then the 16.2 SPECint95 Ultra II 450 MHz machines don't look
> too great against a 23.5 SPECint95 PowerMac G4/500 or a 27 SPECint95 PC
> with an AMD Althon 600, does it?  :-)   (see
> ...  )

But the real question is whether the SPEC ratings accurately reflect
real-world performance.  Especially on a machine that is running a
lot of different large processes at once.

> P.S. Go see for a $159
> FireWire/USB      PCI bus card.  (Then write a driver so it can be
> used in an Ultra 5+ ... ) 

Cool.  But my point was that if the machine, and Solaris, came with
USB and FireWire support, it would be much more attractive.

> I still think, overall, that this machine is only interesting if one of the
> sparc64 port developers could afford to get one to make sure it ran on this
> platform  :-)

Or if, like me, you need to keep current on SPARC/Solaris to maintain
your saleability as a consultant/contractor; but you can't justify the
expence of a higher-end Sun box.  My SS2 is just getting a bit too
sluggish.  And Sun have said that Solaris7 will be the last release to
support the sun4c architecture.  I could find a newer used machine for
a third to half the price of a new Ultra5; but the advantages of buying
new offset a lot of that difference.  (Those advantages drop off quickly
as the absolute price delta grows...)

If I were looking for a SPARC for *BSD or Linux, I'd probably go with
a used machine.  And if I were looking for bang-for-the-buck for those
OSes, I'd probably go with a K6-III or Athlon (K7) box.  (Although the
new Apple G4s also look awfully tempting.  But most third-party binary
only distributions are for x86.)