Build a UNIX network: 386-PC or SUN/DEC?

Sat Oct 14 18:47:29 AEST 1989

Hi netters,

A friend of mine is about to make a big dicision in updating his company's 
computer system and asked me for some advice. Since I am not very familiar
with large systems, I just post his questions on the net for help.

Basically, what he needs is a UNIX based 
network for about 20 engineers to develop FORTRAN and C programs, (Finite
elements, fluid mechanics, etc.) and needs some number crunching power.
For most of the time, the jobs are software developing so the CPU power
required is not very demanding. But sometimes he may need to get results
very fast from running big programs (Mainly matrix operations).

He is currently not sure whether he should go the 386-PC line to buy some
20-30 386s and connect them via ethernet, or go SUN/DEC line to buy some
20 SUN/4 or DEC-3100 and connect them together. Or even buy a supermini
computer with some 20-30 terminals. The basic reason to consider 386-PC
is that 386PC is relatively cheap, and offer more flexibility. But SUN or
DEC are well established UNIX workstations, through they charge a lot and
softwares are more difficult to obtain. Supermini will cost a fortune and
is even more difficult to maintain.

Could anybody who has experience as system manager or similar job share 
his/her experience about the following questions?

   ---- Are 386 UNIX mature enough to be connected into a network? If so,
        which flavor of UNIX would be the best choice? If not, what are the 
        major problems/weak points? Does one need to buy 20 copies of the same
	package or just one copy but with "unlimited site license"? How about
        all other softwares? Any special problems in buildup the network? Will
        you recommend a "best configuration"?

  ----  Is there any acceleration board available for 386 under UNIX? Especially        for performance over 3 MFLOPS. MicroWay's QuarterPuter works only for
        DOS, Sky's VORTEX works for DOS, too. (Through I don't know if they 
        developed newer board to support unix or not). For acceleration board
        I mean to plug in a 25/33MHz 386 machine. Since these machines alone
        even with a WEITEK are not fast enough.

  ----  Do you have any recommendation/comment on a SUN or DEC2100/3100 based
        network? In your opinion, what is the best configuration? (say memory
        /file server/hard disk /tape backup/dummy terminals, etc.) Are there
        any problems which need special attention? Also, for
        about 20 machines, How big a server is big enough? (330MB, 660MB, or

Please reply by email to this account to save band width. If enough interest
is generated, I will post a summary. Thanks in advance.

ndeng at

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