SUMMARY: SUN server for 6-8 developers

From: Alex Pokras (
Date: Sun Jan 21 1996 - 03:35:19 CST

Dear Sun-Managers,

Thanks to all, I got enough information.

My original question:
> I'm evaluating a purchase of a new SUN server intended to serve
> a group of 6-8 developers. The group is developing a large data
> base oriented application, compiling, debugging and testing the
> code in parallel. For testing purposes I need that several data
> base servers (Oracle, Ingres, Sybase, Adabas, Informix) would run
> on this SUN machine simultaneously. At last, someone will work in
> OpenWindows on the machine.
> Could you advice me what model of SUN I need? What is amount of
> memory I should put on it (minimal, optimal)?
> I was told by a local SUN representative, that SS20 with 64M of
> RAM will satisfy my needs. Is that right? What is your experience?

The short summary of a 15 replies I got:
The recommendations I got are in range from SS20 to a 4 processor
SS1000E, the memory size from 96M to 512M.

The most common suggestion is a dual processor SS20 or UltraSPARC1.

The consensus is that I have to put more main memory on my new server.
The average recommendation is 128M.

For those of you, who wants a more detailed summary I included all
the answers at the end of this message after the signature.

Many many thanks to:
      Daniel J Blander <> (Stephen Harris)
      Pierre-Etienne Chartier <> (Michael K. Glass)
      Les Baham <> (Art Freeman) (Robert Lopez)
      John J. Swaynos <>
      Michael Blandford <>
      Sean Ward <> (Stewart Castaldi) (Kevin Sheehan)
      Bert N. Shure <>
      Peter Parnes <>

_______________________________________ ______________________________
  Alex Pokras | E-mail:
  UNIX system manager | Phone: +972-4-8324536(w)
  ISG International Software Group | +972-4-9886189(h)
  Technion City, Haifa 32000, Israel | Fax: +972-4-8320754

Full answers:

From: Daniel J Blander <>

Considering these databases will currently only support 2.4, you
should do a 20 - if your databases start to grow you may want to
consider a 1000. Ideally an Ultra would cut it, but without support
for 2.5 (just too new for those darn software vendors) you can't use it.

Oh - I would also put *alot* more RAM on it - go at
least 256 - especially if you are doing compiles and
running databases. Try to size the databases, the
operations you'll be doing, as about 32mb for the
OpenWindows user, and another 16 for fluff.....

RAM is critical for databases and compiles.

With the 20 you can add another processor for future
performance (fast parellel compiles!!!) - the 1000 handles
this better...


The only thing I would say is MAXIMIZE the memory if you're
going to have all of that compiling/testing going on!

From: (Stephen Harris)

Unless it's an SS20-71 or dual cpu ss20-51 then an ultrasparc 140 is
probably faster and cheaper.

Sun are dropping the SS20 range because of this.

From: Pierre-Etienne Chartier <>

If you're gonna go for a Sparc 20, I'd recommend you take a look
at the new UltraSparcs. They provide more than twice the performance
at a similar cost.

From: (Michael K. Glass)

If it has to be SunOS4 then a 20 is your only choice ... however if it
will be running Solaris (SunOS5) then check out the ULTRA...

From: Les Baham <>

Check with the software vendors to see what the min. hardware
configuration is for their application. (then pad the RAM requirement
about 20%)

Also consider the disk I/O. (you may want multiple SCSI ports to distribute
the load)

Also verify that the applications will take advantage of multiple processors.

Note: Informix has a problem running under NIS+
      (check with all the vendors on simular got-ya's)

From: (Art Freeman)

I think that a SS20 is definitely NOT the machine for this project. I would
suggest either a 4 processor SS1000E with 512Mbytes of main memory; or a Fujitsu
(HAL) HalStation (a SPARC V9 machine running 64bit Solaris 2.4) with 256Mbytes
of main memory. The former system may cost around $70K where
as the latter system $25K. Good luck.

From: (Robert Lopez)

We are doing work of a similar load to that which
you describe with users on dataless SS-5 and the
server a dual cpu SS-20, 96M memory, and a SPARC
Storage Array. I do not think the SSA lightens
the load on this server compared to others which
use several Fast SCSI interfaces.

So, I would say the SS-20 with 64M may serve you
very well, but you may reach a point of adding
a bit more RAM and another CPU.

Now I would not expect the SS-20 to run 5 different
rdb _simultaneously_ if your developers start trying
to simulate production loads.

From: John J. Swaynos <>

I am only able to give you information on the Informix side of you problem.

I am sure that a SS20 with 64Mb ram will run these applications, the real
question is what performance are you expecting? With our current
GUI application suite and 2 On-line engines running. We can easily run
the processors (2@90MHz) with 128Mb to 100 percent. When we do any heavy
transaction processing. Informix and I assume the rest use lots of shared
memory which consumes memory. If performance, is not a problem you can
let the machine swap when it runs out of ram. Don't forget the disk space
you'll need. Informix runs best with raw disk partitions and you only have
7 per drive.

I real problem will be getting them to all run on the same machine.
Informix requires a set of manditory patches etc. If you get past that,
as long as your not testing all, at the same time you should be able to
get some reasonable performance on a single machine.

From: Michael Blandford <>

If you want to run multiple database, then 64 megs in not
going to be sufficient. I would opt for 256+

From: Sean Ward <>

Hi Alex. Depending on how large the data sets are, an SS20 with 2 CPU's
*should* be ok. However, I would strongly recommend getting a lot more RAM;
probably upwards of 300-400MB.

From: (Stewart Castaldi)

I don't think a Sparc 20 with 64M of memory is sufficient.
We run a development Sybase server on that configuration.
It depends on how much memory you reserve to each database
but in our case Sybase takes 15M and we are not running a
large database. For the kernel and Openwin I believe the
figure was 24M ro run comfortably. Then add the requirements
of your other databases. I think the CPU may not have
a problem but you definately need more than 64M of memory.

From: (Kevin Sheehan)

Hmmm, I'd council against that - OW takes up a lot of resource, and
was really designed with a single user on the system in mind.

> Could you advice me what model of SUN I need? What is amount of
> memory I should put on it (minimal, optimal)?

Depends really on the frequency and intensity of usage. If your
6-8 developers only compile/database infrequently, your SS20/64M
should be just fine. If all 8 are doing stuff all the time, it
will be a tad slow.

Myself, I'd investigate a couple of things: 1) more memory 2) another
processor 3) Ultra - pricing down here is such that if Ultras are
available, it's almost worth going straight to them.

My experience is that you can't answer the question in general without
more information than this, and that running OW *and* using a system
as a server will almost certainly require a bit more processor and memory.

From: "Bert N. Shure" <>

you should absolutely go for an ultra over a sparc20, as long as you
don't need solaris 1.

From: Peter Parnes <>

I would invest my money in a Ultra1/170 instead with at least 128MB
RAM!! (The memory is most important!!).

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