[rescue] The best 'rescue' workstation

Zach Lowry zach at zachlowry.net
Sat Apr 23 10:43:19 CDT 2005

Hash: SHA1

Jonathan C. Patschke wrote:
| 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.

Right, and really, it's going to be hard for the benchmarks I'm viewing
to mean anything, really. Because it's so hard to tell until you just
sit down and use a machine for an extended period of time. Every Wintel
system I sit down at is 4-5 times faster, supposedly, than my PC, yet it
just chugs.

| 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.

WAY out of my price range. :)

| 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.

Yuck. I seem to recall some folks either on here or in the NetBSD camp
running Mac PCI video boards in their Sparcs, since the card was
designed for OF it seemed to work, at least in BSD or Linux.

| 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.

I figure if I got an IBM I would put Linux on it and not fool with AIX.

| 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.

Indeed. I just saw on eBay form 44P-170 400MHz machines, no RAM or
Drives, going for $200. That's pretty tempting.


- --
Zach Lowry
MTSU, Murfreesboro, TN
zach at zachlowry.net
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