SUMMARY: Comparison

From: Rajesh Gupta (
Date: Sat Jun 17 1995 - 12:37:03 CDT

My original question was:

> Our System Engineering group like to have some comparison among
> various platforms (SUN, HP, DEC Alpha, SGI, IBM) in the following
> category:
> (1) Ease of Networking (FDDI and Ethernet)
> (2) I/O performance.
> (3) OS Performance/stability.
> (4) Memory Management (Efficiency, flexibility).
> (5) Fault tolerance.
> (6) Third party product support.
> (7) Graphics.

Thanks to following people for there response:

Wayne Flowers,
Nate Mann
Mike Avina,
Eleazar Canale Hernandez,
David Shirley,
Sid Fagan,
Richard Fleming,

Would it be possible to include in the summary the overview of specs for
the varous platforms; I am interested in that data.

>This file is available via anonymous ftp from in
>the file /pub/spectable.

All that doesn't matter if the desired software doesn't run on a platform,
or if it doesn't include all the needed features...

>All the desired software run on all the platforms mentioned.

In response to your message, I'll list machine names in order of
preference catagorically. Statistically and opinion oriented.
> (1) Ease of Networking (FDDI and Ethernet)
> (2) I/O performance.
(dependent upon model, preference based on the 'average' model)
> (3) OS Performance/stability
> (4) Memory Management (Efficiency, flexibility).
> (5) Fault tolerance.
> (6) Third party product support.
> (7) Graphics.

In general HPs are monsters that never seem to break, SUNs are good
networking computers due to the flexibility they offer (and the
easy administration in supporting them, IBM personals are generally
unstable yet they support everything, IBM mainframes are much like
the HPs save for their bulkiness, SGIs are great graphics machines
(as their names implies) and are supported by many companies making
modeling software, and DECs are usually stable workstations (great
for xterms).

  You didn't mention NIS/NIS+ compatibility.....

> We do not use NIS/NIS+.

We are currently using two kinds of machines, SUN and HP.
we have a SUN server 1000 and a SAPRC20 workstation runing solaris 2.3
and two HP 807 and 832 runing HPUX 9.04.
> Our System Engineering group like to have some comparison among
> various platforms (SUN, HP, DEC Alpha, SGI, IBM) in the following
> category:
> (2) I/O performance.
Sun offers better IO performance than the HP's we have.
> (3) OS Performance/stability.

I think the HPUX is more stable. We have had some problems with solaris.

> (7) Graphics.
In Graphics HP offers a better desktop than solaris, it's based on Motif 1.2
but SUN offers more tools to work in this graphic enviroment.

If fault tolerance is important, you might also look at Tandem. Motorolla
uses Tandem for thier cellular systems. I was impressed by what I saw.
I haven't seen anything from any of the other vendors that compares.

Thier OS is SVR4 compliant.

I'm not sure about performance etc...

Software support: Compilers and Standard API's etc.

i.e. SGI offers no DCE-module up to now.

        I have periodic tables with the spec's from everything from
        auspex to cray to pyramid to sun's I.e. everything. I just
        wanted to ask before I send you 30 or so postscipt files...

        Additionally we have EVERYTHING.
        OSF is the newest player don't have a lot of feel for it yet.
        We told HP we would look again when v10 was available since
        the OS is basically a joke it's missing to many of the basics
        funtions of unix, and third party for HP's appears to be a
        larger problem.

        We stick anything you can imagine on IBM's and SGI's ANY kind
        od disk drive to STK silos. You can't beat SGI graphics and
        right off the bat there is one REAL annoyance with IBM (AIX)
        if the primary nameserver fails it still always continues to
        try it for fifteen minutes before going to the secondary, all
        other OS stick with the secondary from then until reboot or
        it goes down. On the IBM this is a radiically nasty problem
        because if NIS is unavailable from this (of course) the systems
        will not boot if there are any NFS mounts and the login as
        root is not possible. Additionally one other gripe with AIX
        there is NO single user mode, you have to netboot (ugly) or
        from floppy go threw this menu mess and shell out.

        BUT IBM hardware doesn't fail, AIX just sucks.
        I personally haven't played enough with solaris to comment and
        I don't think SunOS is an option anymore. Oh by the way
        don't but an IBM without lot's of memory 32 will NOT cut it.
        Also AIX patches (ptf's) are a nightmare... Gees I didn't
        mean to really blast IBM but I did. I have to admit I AM
        an SGI biggot I think they are the best all around. The OSF
        currently now has the best for the buck but can't compete
        for total compute power of a fully loaded challenge with 36
        200 MHz cpu's.

     Some thoughts for you, plus just my opinion, and not
     representative of anyone other than myself etc....
     We use Alphas as servers running Oracle, so I don't have any
     'workstation' oriented comments for you. Hope this helps...
     Networking - pretty straight forward, Ethernet, FDDI
     available. ATM is a little strange as Fore do a card but it
     is their older 'slower' model. They have no plans to release
     an updated version for the TurboChannel bus, but will for
     PCI. We've had problems with the FDDI card - occasional
     lock-ups causing total os failure. We believe there is a
     patch for this (isn't there always....)
     The Fore problem is because the range is being migrated from
     a TurboChannel bus architecture to PCI bus, so third party
     manufacturers aren't too keen on building cards for a dated
     architecture. Once PCI is fully adopted this shouldn't be an
     OS Performance is reasonable - 3.21 is better. Stability has
     been a problem in the past - don't touch 1.anything or 2.0
     with a barge pole.
     Fault Tolerance is reasonable - eg. DECSafe ASE. This area
     has been plagued by OS instability in the past though. Fault
     tolerant hardware is fine, but if the os is buggy, then its
     pretty much pointless.... Again, OSF/1 version 2.1 or later
     to make this worthwhile.
     Third party products are not available in any great quantity
     as far as I can tell. Network management tools are in
     particular short supply - everyone I talk to has no
     intention of supporting this platform (e.g synoptics,
     wellfleet, cisco etc...)
     General management tools and the third party things which
     you take for granted generally aren't available in binary
     and require quite a bit of messing around to acquire.
     Other things....
     International support is rather variable - hardware
     reliability is not 100%, Oracle runs particularly well on

We are pretty much an HP shop here. DEC's do not have near the
hardware reliability of the HP's. Only HP and Concurrent offer
a real-time unix. The SGI's are very pricey for the performance,
altho we have one or two for specialized graphics applications.
Suns are an also-ran, like the DEC's.

Basically in the unix world you could consider the Suns as the
Chevy's and the DEC's as the Fords, the IBM's as the Cadillacs
(good but pricey), HP's as the Mercedes, SGI as the Porsche, and
Cray's as the Lamborghini's.

We use almost no 3rd party stuff, but most support HP-UX.

Remember to get the HP's from their resale division, *much* cheaper.

That Cray workstation is pretty snazzy, not much as a file server
they say, but very fast at crunching.

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