SUMMARY - Puzzle Systems

From: Mitch Baltuch (
Date: Mon Aug 10 1992 - 15:09:48 CDT

Original Post:

has anyone had any experiences with puzzle system's s-bus intel card? does it
do the dos thing well, or are our users going to holler that what they want
doesn't run? any admin problems?


I had a number of responses ranging from Puzzle System's card works just fine
to some real horror stories. My sense of things after reading the replies is
that I would do better getting Sun's card. I have included the comments I
received below.

Mitchell S. Baltuch Unidata Program Center UCAR, PO Box 3000
303/497-8652 Boulder, CO 80307-3000

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>From nuruddin%nil@isis.MNI.McGill.CA Thu Aug 6 11:49:40 1992

Hi !!!
We have puzzle system's SynergyII card installed on an IPX. It runs fine
execpt some times when the system crashes while DOS was running. You have
to load device driver again. It gets annoying.
It does seem to run WP5.1, Lotus123 (DOS Versions) without any problems

>From Thu Aug 6 12:46:05 1992

We demo'd both the Puzzle board/sfw and the new SunPC board/sfw. The Puzzle
configuration worked although it had some strange restrictions, such as
MAX mem for a PC window was 4.0 under OW and 5.0 under SunView. I have 32 Mb
on my IPX so I certainly could spare more if I desired. SunPC lets you config
all you want until you run out.

        Puzzle comes with DR-DOS 5.0 loaded. SunPC comes with DOS 4.01 loaded.

Both are a little hairy to install, but Sun's seems a bit cleaner.

My preference here is the SunPC over the Puzzle systems. (The Puzzle systems
locked up the whole SUN too many times for my liking.)

>From Thu Aug 6 12:47:24 1992

I've used it, it's a cinch to setup, and everything I've run, has run.
It took about twenty minutes to set it up.

Also, you can probably get a demo, and if you're using wierd software
that fails, return it.

>From Thu Aug 6 13:22:57 1992

We purchased a Puzzle systems board on a 30 day evaluation and it was DOA.
A replacement was sent by the company but it was a 386 instead of a 486.
The drivers received for it would not run and they were replaced.

We waited for some time for the 486 board to arrive finally, it did
and we ran some rudimentary DOS applications. No Problem.

We got an application that was a VGA application for DOS and loaded it up.
It did not work. We informed Puzzle of this and they took the information
and we did not hear from them. The application stood idle for quite a bit
and never worked.

We asked for our money back. Their responce... no return phone calls
and when we finally got a subordinate on the phone he said we had
gone past our eveluation time and would not get our $.... the saga continues.

Buyer beware.

>From Thu Aug 6 15:03:18 1992

        They work, but they have a different notion about
accessing network (unix) filesystems than Sun does in their
DOS products. Screen response can be sluggish depending on
which type of frame buffer you have. I like their local
serial and parallel ports, but the mouse action takes getting
used to. Big thing to note: They use DR-Dos 5.0 instead of
MS-Dos. For our main application, based on Clipper, this
was a fatal incompatibility. Sun's new Dos Window 3.0 runs
this application fine, so we now have several puzzle boards
sitting on the shelf. In general, I prefer Sun's product.

>From Thu Aug 6 16:24:52 1992

I use the Puzzle Systems 386DX-20 card in my SS-2 and it works quite well.
Earlier versions of their software had some problems with MS Windows, but
the latest version works quite well. I regularly use it with Windows 3.1 and
Word for Windows 2.0a. All other PC software I've run on it has worked, too.
Since the DOS filesystem used by the Puzzle card it actually a Unix file, it
gets backed up automatically with your Unix dumps. One thing to note is
that DOS memory to Sun memory is about 1:4, that is 16M of Sun memory will
let you allocate 4M of DOS memory. So if you have apps that require lots of
DOS memory, you may need to get more memory for the Sun.

I've read that Sun now offers a 386 coprocessor card that works with their
DOS emulator. I don't know how well it works or what it cost compared to the
Puzzle board.

>From Thu Aug 6 16:28:37 1992

Is this the Synergy card? We had them in to give us a demo, and after 3 hours
they managed to get Windows running, then screwed around for 2 more hours and
never could get MS project running under Windows. Since this is what we were
interested in, we said to come back when it worked. Since then, the rep has
dropped the product.

>From meekj@pt.Cyanamid.COM Thu Aug 6 21:09:51 1992

Sun has their own versions now, both 486SX & 486DX versions. We have a
486DX on order. I have heard of troubles with the Puzzle board
software. Sun boards use SunPC as the interface.

>From Fri Aug 7 02:15:07 1992

I have made bad experiences.
Hardware Synergy II board (80386SX) into a SParcstation IPX (4/50) 64MB Ram
Sun OS 4.1.2 (Solaris 1.0.1), Openwindows 3.

I can not use the Board for 4 months.
I needed four updates to get the right Software.
Now I can start Synergy - Version 11, and get a DR-DOS Window, but
after typing a few lines, or somtimes a litle more lines, DR-DOS
reboots, but never comes up again.
My german dealer promised help, but still nothing happens.

>From Fri Aug 7 03:05:18 1992

>From talking to some folks we were doing an eval with SunPC with, they'd tried
the Puzzle cards previously and found them a bit inelegant and they ate up
SPARC processor time looking after the front end.

You may find it worthwhile to also look at SunPC with it's 486sx and 486dx

>From Fri Aug 7 08:12:54 1992

I have been running Puzzel's Synergy II card for some month now.

The only problem I have is that it slows the system down a lot.
I dont have any problems with the DOS application I run.
I am realy very pleased with the Synergy aspplication.

>From Fri Aug 7 08:19:42 1992

I have two of them and the run all of the applications from
Microsoft(windows,word,excel, etc.) The major drawback I have found is that
you do anything that is graphic intensive ie cad it wooks slowly. This is
because the card interfaces to the graphics buffer directly.

>From Fri Aug 7 10:36:12 1992

We tried Insignia solutions SoftPC with moderate success. The problem
was that PC software writers assumed that they had the entire PC so
their code was filled with busy wait loop; hence they ate a lot of
SPARC cpu. Another problem was the a few engineering programs did not
work under the software simulator.

We installed the Puzzle board and everything worked beautifully.

>From Sat Aug 8 10:55:28 1992
                                        Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Puzzle has one. Sun has one. They both seem to work fine. I can believe
there may be some programs that don't work, but on the whole they seem

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