[rescue] Mainframe on eBay

Patrick Finnegan pat at computer-refuge.org
Fri Sep 16 23:12:42 CDT 2005

Skeezics Boondoggle declared on Friday 16 September 2005 09:58 pm:
> On Fri, 16 Sep 2005, Patrick Finnegan wrote:
> > Because they're nowhere near the same thing.  IBM's boxes are good
> > hardware that doesn't break anywhere near as much as E10ks do. 
> > We've got E10k's and F6800s at work, and as someone else noted, they
> > seem to consume CPUs/CPU boards as well.  Anyways, the point of a
> > mainframe is fast memory and fast I/O, which are two things you
> > don't get (comparitively) with an E10k.
> Well, I was mostly poking at the notion that machines that just a
> couple of years ago were still sold new for > $1M are now available on
> Ebay for less than $10K was astonishing; seriously, who here 2-3 years
> ago would have ever even considered owning a box that big?

The people that bought a SC2000E a few years ago for much less than 
that. :)

> But I hadn't heard so much negativity about the high-end Suns; one
> guy (an Oracle DBA) I worked with had run big databases on a 10K and
> said it was a great box; another friend who worked at amazon.com gave
> it more mixed reviews.

I bet the Oracle DBA didn't have to fix the hardware.  It seems somewhat 
hit-or-miss; one of our E10ks (which we use as parts to the other two) 
had lots of issues, and the other two seemed to be more reliable, until 
we put parts from the other one in them.

> I admit I'm kind of surprised to hear the big SunFires getting
> slagged; I mean, Sun allegedly put *huge* amounts of engineering
> effort into extending the reliability of their high-end hardware, from
> the CS6400 to the 10K and on into the SunFires, weren't big Suns
> supposed to be getting _more_ reliable?  I mean, it takes 'em damn
> long enough to ship each succeeding generation, you'd think they'd be
> getting better at it by now?

You'd think so.  Big systems like that are hard to make well, and with 
price cutting it doesn't suprise me too much that they have more 
problems than smaller machines like E4000s or something.

> Or is it not so much the machine, or that people don't understand how
> to build a proper environment to house such a thing?  I mean, _most_
> datacenters I've been in or involved with are well engineered, and
> usually wildly _overbuilt_.  If you aren't providing clean power and
> decent cooling then your z900 is likely going to fare as badly as your
> E10k, but I can't imagine that's the case at a place like Amazon,
> which threw whole boxcars full of investment cash at building their IT
> infrastructure...

We do know how to run a datacenter where I work, and I know that's not 
the problem.

> Huh.  Guess I'm just gettin' old and out of touch.  I ran a SC2000E
> that had close to 12 years of power-on time and was solid as a rock. 
> I ran my own network of US-II machines for three years in a proper
> machine room (100.0% uptime for CY2003) and two years down here in my
> basement, and while I did have a couple of bad modules (the infamous
> E$ problems), all this time I've experienced the usual reliability
> I've come to expect from Sun gear over the last 15 years...

It may not be every machine, but some machines that Sun has shipped sure 
seem to have intermittent problems that may not surface right away.

> Well, I'd still take on an E10K if I could.  Besides, with prices so
> damn low, and with so much kit out there for sale, you can easily
> stock up on a few spares. :-)  And since Sun seems destined
> (determined?) to be an AMD box shifter, the E10K will be quite a prize
> for any serious SPARC collector, someday.

An E10K uses IIRC 8x30A, 200-240V feeds (probably only 4 are necessary).  
You have enough cooling and money to run the machine (power and cooling) 
laying around?

> > I think it makes more sense to go after a cheaper mainframe box,
> > like an S/390 G6 or something. :)
> Well, I'm an old DEC geek, turned Unix geek, turned general-purpose
> non-IBM geek.  I just never got into that whole world; IBM always left
> me cold.  I have great respect for their engineering (especially in
> the employment of explosive bolts) and for their commitment to doing
> some of the coolest R&D around.  I'm greatly impressed by POWER/PPC,
> and I think IBM is the only company out there that can keep the awful
> prospect of Intel/x86 hegemony at bay.  But AIX is a hateful
> abomination, and their cozying up to and enabling of M$ in their early
> years is unforgiveable.

IBM's promotion of Linux on all of their hardware now helps to improve 
their cred, and makes their POWER stuff much more usable.

Purdue University ITAP/RCAC       --- http://www.rcac.purdue.edu/
The Computer Refuge               --- http://computer-refuge.org

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