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Sun announces $1000 workstation

By enterfornone in MLP
Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 04:28:44 AM EST
Tags: Hardware (all tags)

This Excite article tells that Sun has released a Unix workstation priced under $1000. Fred Kohout, Sun's Director of Marketing claimed "We're taking on the PC market on its home turf with price and performance".

A webcast of the launch can be found here. More information on the system can be found here.

The success of this machine wouldn't just be a good thing for Sun, but for Unix as a whole. Getting Unix machines into areas that are traditionally PC dominated has been difficult, do Sun have the power to make this a success?


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Sun announces $1000 workstation | 20 comments (19 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
I want one (2.50 / 4) (#1)
by onyxruby on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 08:48:12 PM EST

Best way to learn one is to use one. If you can't get access to one and want to learn how to use Sun it's can be quite expensive. Book learning alone is second rate at best. The only way to truly know how to use something like that is to use it, break it and fix it. This makes exposure much more doable for those of us who can't easily get it otherwise.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

in what way? (3.50 / 2) (#5)
by Delirium on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:11:06 PM EST

I'm not sure what you mean by this - if you mean to get familiar with SunOS/Solaris, you can do that just as easily on an x86 CPU. If you mean to get familiar with Sun hardware i can see your point, but it seems that's not the most useful of skills, especially since the more interesting Sun hardware is unlikely to be available on an $1000 workstation.

[ Parent ]
Both (2.00 / 2) (#6)
by onyxruby on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:44:51 PM EST

I would like to study both Solaris and the Sun hardware. Obviously the hardware on a $995 workstation is going to be nothing like what they have in the higher end versions. But if it can serve to gain a stepping stone for both Sun/OS Solaris and their higher end hardware than I would think it worthwhile. On a side note, you say that you can easily learn Solaris on a x86 CPU. While I certainly know that you can do this with Linux, I didn't know you learn Solaris on the x86 platform. Do you know any good resources for this?

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

Get it here (4.50 / 4) (#9)
by titus-g on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 11:26:22 PM EST

http://www.sun.com/software/solaris/binaries/get.html either an 800M download or a $75 CD

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

Potential stumbling block (4.00 / 6) (#2)
by Miniluv on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:08:33 PM EST

The public doesn't understand RISC vs. CISC and the effects the different philosophies in architecture have on the all important Mhz rating. People may see that these machines have UltraSparcIIs running at 500Mhz and say, "Well, Intel had PIIIs running that a year ago, why shouldn't I just buy a 1Ghz PIII or Athlon?" without seeing the real issue.

That was the major stumbling block I had to overcome when I first got interested in non-x86 architectures, and I'm still bad at judging the dollar value of RISC-arch machines. I'm learning slowly, as I discovered that my 250Mhz R4400 is really quite a nice machine when you compare it to it's contemporaries in the x86 world.

The UltraSparcIIe isn't the greatest chip Sun makes, but this isn't supposed to be a top of the line desktop, it's a budget entry in their lineup. Comparing this to a top of the line Intel or AMD chip when trying to go feature for feature is much like taking the bottom end entry in BMWs lineup and matching it feature for feature with a top of the line Cadillac.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

See also: Power Mac G4 (4.80 / 5) (#10)
by fluffy grue on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:38:37 AM EST

"What do you mean the G4 only goes up to 500 em-aich-zee?"

"Well, you see, the G4 instruction set--"

"Don't you get technical on me, boy! Just tell me why I should buy one of these pretty pieces of plastic junk from Apple, when I can get one of them there Compaq thingies which has twice the em-aich-zee as this here fish tank!"

"As I'm trying to tell you, sir, the G4 is about twice as powerful as a PC at the same megahertz--"

"Mega hurts? What's that got to do with anything?"

"'Megahertz' is how you say 'em aich zee.' It is a measure of how fast the CPU runs."

"So you're saying that them there Compaqs run twice as fast as these G4s!"

"No, you see, G4s are twice as efficient, and so they only need to run half as fast as an x86 for the same computation power--"

"Ecks eighty-six? What the hayell kind of technical jargon-whatsitz is that?"

"*sigh* Sir, maybe perhaps I could interest you in an iMac."
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

But does it run Linux? (4.33 / 6) (#3)
by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 09:53:39 PM EST

Hehehe, the dumb /bot question ;) (It probably does, though...)

More seriously, I just have to wonder what the quality is in this sort of machine, and how powerful the architecture really is, compared to the higher-end Sun workstations. Sun is known for having really high quality construction, and really powerful memory and peripheral architectures. I could live with an off-the-shelf memory architecture in such a cheap machine, but if the quality of the machine is typical for Sun, this machine is probably a hell of a buy...


how does this compare as a workstation? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by Delirium on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:09:36 PM EST

Since you obviously can't just compare megahertz for megahertz to x86 CPUs, does anyone have any ideas how this compares to current x86 offerings? Is $1000 for a Sun workstation (provided I were willing to restrict myself to Solaris/Linux/*BSD) good or bad compared to an x86 system you can get for $1000? Is this competatively-priced or is there a markup for the simple fact that it's a Sparc (and hence has no competition from clones)?

There are Sparc clones... (none / 0) (#19)
by uweber on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:51:57 AM EST

though they use Boards from Sun check out transtec(UK site though they are actually from my hometown in Germany). There are a couple of others, too but I don't remember their URLs.

[ Parent ]
whelmed... (3.00 / 3) (#8)
by chuqui on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 11:26:15 PM EST

I took a look at this box with some interest. I have to admit I'm whelmed. Why do I want this box over a good Linux box? what is the REAL cost of the box, once I add all the stuff I need to make it really useful?

I do a *lot* of solaris at work these days, and I still can't convince myself this box has advantages over my linux boxes at home. And I'm not convinced the list price is the real price -- add memory and other stuff, and suddenly it's not nearly as cheap as it seems to look.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
whelm? (none / 0) (#12)
by The Cunctator on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:17:49 AM EST

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

"Whelm" means to immerse, cover in water, engulf, and thus to overwhelm or overcome with emotion. It's not the opposite of overwhelm; it's a synonym. "Underwhelm" is the common-usage antonym of "overwhelm". And is interestingly thus a neologism based on a lack of understanding of the word "whelm"; "underwhelm" came in to existence around 1949, while "whelm" and "overwhelm" are 14th century words used by Shakespeare et al.

"Nonplussed" is an even better antonym and is a late 16th century word.

[ Parent ]

whelmed.... (none / 0) (#13)
by chuqui on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:28:00 AM EST

It means exactly what I expect it to mean. I am not overwhelmed. I am not underwhelmed. that leaves me whelmed. Consider it jargon for a virtual shoulder shrug, in the middle between standing ovation and mooning the queen of england.

I'm actually amused at having to explain it. it's a rather common piece of jargon these days. Maybe you need to use the language more, and the dictionary less, since dictionaries are nice, but static, and english is nicer adn anything but.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
whelm==overwhelm (none / 0) (#14)
by The Cunctator on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:50:29 AM EST

or $whelm eq $overwhelm, as it were.

I'm actually amused at having to explain it. They're synonyms. To be whelmed is not halfway in between overwhelmed and underwhelmed. Being whelmed is equivalent (in intensity) to being overwhelmed.

Your usage may be jargon, but it's ugly and unnecessary. I understood your intent, but just as I understood what you meant when you wrote "adn," my understanding doesn't make "adn" standard or nicer English.

I like the fact that English is a living language; part of that is an appreciation for its history, and I find fine Middle English words like "whelm" to be much more alive and interesting and fun when they have such depth of meaning as "to wash over completely, as when the raging ocean capsizes a boat, overcoming its crew in raging torrents" than "halfway between overwhelm and underwhelm".

I accept your right to defend your misusage of "whelm", but I hope you'll defend mine to excoriate your misusage.

[ Parent ]

is there a way (none / 0) (#16)
by Wah on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:45:11 AM EST

that replies to topical comments can be editorial? So they disappear much, much easier?
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
sound's fair... (none / 0) (#17)
by chuqui on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 03:29:35 AM EST

>I accept your right to defend your misusage of "whelm", but I hope you'll defend

sounds fair, although I disagree that it's misusage. But what do I know, I'm only a professional writer...

English is a living language with a wonderful subtlety in usage. If it was purely objective, it'd be -- a computer language. And boring.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Neat, but why bother? (2.33 / 3) (#11)
by decaf_dude on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:55:39 AM EST

I agree with most other posters (here and other forums, for it seems Sun created quite a buzz with this announcement).

$1,000 will buy a well-specced, GHz-class Athlon T'bird and with Linux/*BSD it'll be *way* much better workstation. Sparcs maybe nice on the server, as a workstation they're not so brilliant unelss you're doing some highly-specific work, such as CAD and oil exploration diagrams and stuff.

Where this platform's sound design and stability really shines is the server, where $1,000 won't buy you much even in the x86-land.

Couple of years back this would have made a big difference, but with the advances Linux made recently I see no point in running Solaris on a workstation.


don't underestimate some factors... (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 01:53:09 AM EST

$1,000 will buy a well-specced, GHz-class Athlon T'bird and with Linux/*BSD it'll be *way* much better workstation.

Well, but what is the quality of a $1,00 dollar PC system? What kind of service do you get?

You should *not* undersestimate the fact that this is a *Sun* workstation. At the very least, this workstation/OS combination was designed to work together. Assuming the system is of typical Sun quality, you're getting a top-notch system. The service from Sun, one can easily imagine, will be superior to that of a good number of PC manufacturers. How easy it will be to maintain 100 of these systems, compared to 100 BSD PCs?

Actually, it is easy to imagine this system serving as a delivery platform for specialized (maybe even in-house) software written in Solaris.

[ Parent ]

Same shit, different price (3.50 / 4) (#18)
by uweber on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:41:45 AM EST

Well O.K. that might be a somewhat hard judgement but Sun is doing the same as they did with the Ultra 5. At least in my experience it is impossible to work for more than one houer with an Ultra 5 (one of ouer computerlabs is equiped with Ultra5s) because of the 76Hz refreshrates - at least I get a headache. So I guess you need to buy one of those expensive Cards to get 85Hz.
Besides that, Sun's memory upgrades are not really on the cheap side. However if Sun would decide to ditch their crappy standard graphics and put in something like a G450 or Geforce MX (I don't know if they will work with Sparc but I guess it could be possible since those chips are not x86 exclusive) this machine would be a good deal especialy with their PC on a PCI card thingy.
However low end Sun kit still costs half as much in Europe as it does in the US so I wont go shoping for one of these babies anytime soon .

Maybe they already support it (none / 0) (#20)
by xrayspx on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:34:54 AM EST

The Blade does have at least PCI slots, so at least a TNT1 or 3dfx card can be chucked in there, and there is Solaris X86, so they have to at least support SOME standard video cards for PCs, at least on x86. I imagine you could throw some 16MB PCI card in if you wanted to. But the Expert3D-Lite would probably be faster anyway. Although, any time I see 300% FASTER, 50% MORE and BETTER (than it's predecessor) without naming any specific product, I have to wonder. 300% faster than what exactly?
"I see one maggot, it all gets thrown away" -- My Wife
[ Parent ]
Sun announces $1000 workstation | 20 comments (19 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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