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

Dick Dunn rcd at ico.ISC.COM
Tue Oct 17 13:27:59 AEST 1989

ndeng at EULER.BERKELEY.EDU writes:

> A friend of mine is about to make a big dicision in updating his company's 
> computer system...  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...
>...He is currently not sure whether he should go the 386-PC line...
[or buy Sun4, DEC 3100, or supermini with terminals]

Here are some general comments, which might stimulate discussion about
site configurations of more general interest than the original inquiries
(which is why I'm posting instead of mailing).

Why not go for a combination?  The 386 boxes are, as you point out, some-
what cheaper.  For most of what you need to do, they'll suffice.  Then you
can get a smaller number of high-end workstations and/or compute servers.

How about using moderate 386 boxes (20 MHz) for most, and putting the money
you save into a substantial compute server--something like an M/2000.
You'll still have enough local power to do development and a reasonable
amount of testing/checkout (which may require small "real data" runs)
before moving over to the big compute engine.  Think about the savings in
having an easily-shared compute server.

A mixed environment has mixed blessings, of course.  It takes a little bit
of attention to keep programs portable, and this may make things take a tad
longer up front.  However, you'll uncover portability problems sooner and
you'll be able to fix them with less pain.  In the long run this may save
you money.  (Obviously if you're open to choice of platform, you've had to
give some thought to moving programs already.)

>    ---- Are 386 UNIX mature enough to be connected into a network?...

Yes.  That's how we use them--our day-to-day use has an assortment of
386's, VAXen, Suns, and others all connected via Ethernet.

Dick Dunn     rcd at    uucp: {ncar,nbires}!ico!rcd     (303)449-2870
   ...No DOS.  UNIX.

More information about the Comp.unix.i386 mailing list