[rescue] The best 'rescue' workstation

Jonathan C. Patschke jp at celestrion.net
Sat Apr 23 10:37:49 CDT 2005

On Sat, 23 Apr 2005, Zach Lowry wrote:

> Interesting. Well, I should ask this then. Since this is replacing a
> Dual 1GHz PC, shouldn't we add 'slow' to that list? I realize you said
> speedy in the pros column, but I'm under the impression that a Ultra 60
> will be somewhat slower than my 1GHz PC. Ultra 60s top out at 450MHz,
> correct?

Faster clock speed doesn't equal a faster computer any more than a
higher engine redline indicates a faster car, but it depends on the task
at hand.  ANY multiprocessor UltraSPARC or multiprocessor-capable O-
series SGI will have tons more I/O bandwidth than any PC prior to the
introduction of Hypertransport because they entire system isn't stuck on
a single processor-to-memory bus.  So, for anything that involves moving
lots of data around, CPU utilization and latency is much lower.  That's
why Suns tend to make kick-ass database servers.

Also, for things you can optimize through VIS, a 450MHz UltraSPARC-II
will compete quite nicely with a 1GHz Pentium 3, especially if the US-II
in question is one of the varieties with a healthy amount of L2 cache.
Put two of them together, and you have a very formidable machine.  Those
450MHz CPUs are -fast-.  As for comparing it against a dual-processor
Pentium 3, I don't know.  Give me some benchmarks, and I'll run them on
a dual-processor 300MHz Ultra 60.

Sun Blade 2000 systems are getting affordable.  Dual-900MHz systems are
going for about $2000 on eBay.  They're big and ugly, but they're also
silly fast.

The thing that's going to irritate you about any Sun system is that the
graphics performance -sucks-, even if you're just playing around in
Mozilla and other 2D applications.  The responsiveness you're used to
on PCs and Macintoshes just isn't there.  I find it a constant source of
frustration that I can watch things get drawn over each other.  Granted,
most of that is because I'm running GNOME at the moment, instead of
something that makes better use of framebuffer resources, but any Radeon
or GeForce card will make a Creator3D look really, really bad in terms
of desktop interaction.

I dunno.  Suns are good, but the graphics sucks.  SGIs have snappy
graphics, but IRIX is starting to show its age, especially as more and
more software assumes all the world is Linux on an i386.  IBMs that can
run AIX 5.2 and later are generally REALLY expensive if you want to be
able to put more than one framebuffer in it, and then, if you get a
POWER4 system, your graphics are hampered anyway.

Right now, my dream system would probably be an RS/6000 44P-270 (not a
275) with a pair of GXT4500 or GXT6500 framebuffers running AIX 5.3.
Those are expensive (especially with the framebuffers) but very, very
fast.  POWER is a great example of low clock speed having nothing at all
to do with performance.

Jonathan Patschke  ) "It's alright for someone to sleep past noon every
Elgin, TX         (   once in a while.  That's what it means to be a
USA                )  free human being."       --Roger Smith, The Big O

More information about the rescue mailing list