IPC vs. ELC (summary)

From: Barbara Vaughan (bvaughan@lotka.Princeton.EDU)
Date: Mon Sep 28 1992 - 11:40:38 CDT

Last week I asked readers of this group for advice about the merits of
IPC vs. ELC workstations for individual users in our office. I got many
responses; here is the promised summary. I have edited as much as
possible to delete mention of points already mentioned by others. Thanks
to all who responded to my request.

Barbara Vaughan

>From pmorris@chessie.East.Sun.COM

The biggest differences are:

1) The obvious (to you at least): Speed Advantage: ELC
2) Color vs Black & white only Advantage: ??? (your personal choice)
3) Expandability (ie. SBus slots) Advantage: IPC
4) Memory capacity: IPC-48MB, ELC-64MB Advantage: ELC
5) Disk capacity: ELC-5.2GB, IPC-15.6GB Advantage: IPC
6) Price Advantage: ELC

>From sangho@math.mit.edu

An IPC has 2 sbus slots so you can add a color frame buffer, SparcPrinter,
etc. The ELC is only monochrome.

The IPC also comes with floppy drive. If you want to add a floppy
drive to an ELC, be prepared to spend as much as $600 - $700 for it.

Of course, the ELC is about 60% faster than an IPC.

>From bk%kullmar@Sweden.EU.net

The IPC is better only if you need a color screen! You can add a external
harddisk to the ELC and with this you will get a cheaper and faster system
than the IPC, but a monocrome screen and some applications may require a color

>From fetrow@biostat.washington.edu

 IPC has ... a second asynch serial line.

>From barr@pop.psu.edu

The IPC is also a pain in that you have to upgrade the memory in
either 4MB or 16MB increments. The only downside is that with an ELC
if you want more than 16MB, you need to start buying 16MB SIMMs.

>From Keith.Bierman@Eng.Sun.COM

IPC is probably a bit easier to upgrade .... as you can keep the
expensive monitor, and just swap boards, then ultimately boxes.

ELC is quieter which may be important to some for a home machine.

>From ytsuji@cfi.waseda.ac.jp Wed Sep 23 18:58:44 1992

... ELC is cheap, but has many disadvantages: monochrome
monitor only, no bus cards whatever, which means no hardware applications
whatever such as voice recognition system.

>From hanson@pogo.fnal.gov Wed Sep 23 17:08:14 1992

Reasons to buy an IPC rather than ELC:

[ reasons omitted duplicate earlier responses ]

2. disk in same box as CPU (if you care)

Reasons to buy an ELC:

3. Possibility of more memory (64 MEG vs 48).

That's all I can think of.

>From m4@unet.umn.edu

The ELC is much faster than an IPC for integer arithmetic (which I tested).

I have 40 MB of memory in this elc ... Seems the more memory you give these
machines, the nicer they run with x-windows.

>From sani.nassif@att.com

A result of the [ fact that ELC is monochrome only ]
is that graphical applications (e.g. windowing systems)
exhibit better response on an ELC than an IPC because (1) the processor is
faster and (2) less data to move (1 bit per pixel vs. 8).

>From awolfe@ee.princeton.edu

IPC memory is much cheaper and more readily available.

IPC is upgradable to IPX

IPC is only 25% slower - not a big difference

>From aimla!ruby!jennine@uunet.UU.NET

... I have an ELC on my desk, with
an external disk, and I love it. One piece of advice --
since the ELC has no fan, if you get one of the
low-noise cases for your disk, your office will be
gloriously quiet.


>From toma@TC.Cornell.EDU

The only other notable is that the IPC can only go to 48 Megs, however,
you can fill up with 4 meg simms. If you have a plethora of 4 meg simms,
you may want to take that into consideration.


>From ide!ide.com!kowal@uunet.UU.NET

[ points omitted were already mentioned above ]

3) Do I need more than 2 serial lines? Since the IPC can take an Sbus
   board, you could put a serial line board into it. The ELC is limited
   to two serial ports.

7) Is desk real-estate an issue? The ELC with an external disk will take
   up more room than an IPC with an internal disk.

So, that's what I would consider, pricing aside. If you want the best
of both worlds, spring for the IPX.


>From rick@sjsumcs.SJSU.EDU

First problem I have with the ELC (and SLC) is the video system. It is
B&W. Do not misunderstand this, I have nothing against monochrome - but
the ELC is not monochrome, it is just plain B&W (no gray scales - just
dithering to give the appearance of gray scales). Second problem with
these is reliability. A survey published early this year ranked the
SLC/ELC as the least reliable UNIX workstation, with a first-year failure
rate >25%. Sun's warranty is only 90 days, so you will need to add in
a maintenance contract real fast - because these things do die at an
alarming rate (our first-year failure rate is 25%, but our sample size
is small).

Note: I asked awolfe@ee.princeton.edu, who mentioned that his student lab
was completely equipped with ELCs, what his experience was with regard to
reliability. His response follows:

> We have had 1 SLC and 1 ELC fail (out of a dozen or so) in several years.

Thanks again to all who responded.

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