From: Peter Kim (
Date: Thu Apr 04 1996 - 09:55:30 CST

My original posting was:
> Hi.
> We are considering to purchase several workstations and got quotes from
> both Sun and a vendor selling Axil workstations. As expected, the price
> quoted from the clone vendor is more than 20% cheaper for UltraSPARC
> workstations.
> What are your experiences with Axil or other SPARC clones and their
> vendors?

I received many emails.

My experiences with Sun have been pretty good but there were times when
I had some suspicion in the quality of Sun hardware and support. All is
well now but there were times when our SPARC 1000 server crashed
constantly and Sun service people would change most of its parts
several times over the period of 5 months. The Sun system support
peeple were contractors hired by Sun from Kodak and were essentially
part changers.

So I am thinking that, if I can get SPARC clones with the same
performance and quality as the Sun workstations with a price 20-30%
cheaper than those of Sun and get the same quality of service from the
clone vendor as from Sun service, then I may seriously consider going
with Sun clones.

Since I find it difficult to summarize all the mails I got, I am
including them here.
The story we got was that the Axil clone is an exact replica of the Sun
machine. Axil took the board design done by Sun and manufactured it.
I recently got a lot of quotes for Sparc5 clones. Due to our status
with Sun, I couldn't find a clone far enough below Sun to make it
worthwhile. I will tell you that the company that had the most
aggressive pricing was Tatung. I spoke with John Nettuno
1-908-788-4242. I have never used one of their machines nor do I know
anyone who has.....just passing along the info.
All we currently use are Tatungs. I've received 2 Ultra 1 systems from
them so far and they have been very stable.

Their price is better than Sun, although the price difference is
roughly 5% after some hard bargaining with both groups. Tatung
currently is shipping a Sun Motherboard, so you get a Sun product in a
Tatung Chassis.
We recently evaluated the Axil systems (the SS5 and SS20 models). The
main complaint is that the Hyundai monitor is junk. See if you can get
a Sony monitor instead.

The other disturbing factor is that out of 6 systems we got, 3 had
various problems when they arrived, one had a bad mouse, one a bad
monitor, and the other a loose video card. Not a good track record.

On the upside, once we fixed the problems (which were handled
propmptly), they seem to work as well as the Sun equivalents.
We purchased one machine as a trial. It is a Sparc 20 look-alike with
256MB of mem and 2 2GB disks. The machine is really fast, but... It
crashes periodically without warning. We have hundreds of Sun
workstations at our site, so we feel really comfortable supporting
them. However, the Axil has been a headache from the beginning.

I think the most diconcerting issue for us is that support from Axil
has been non-existent. That, in and of itself, is reason enough for us
to continue purchasing Sun workstations.
I've heard good things about HAL clones. Haven't heard anything about
Axil. See
We maintain both Sun and Axil (and a number of other clone
manufacturer's) SPARC systems, both hardware and software. At least
the last time I asked the UK Twinhead reseller, the kit they were
selling were STB (Sun's manufacturing planet) UltraSPARC motherboards,
just in a Twinhead box - i.e. the hardware was Sun, just the memory and
peripherals weren't. These went for about 15% cheaper than Sun.
Certainly there is only one source of chips anyway.

We have had *no* cases on incompatibility between clone and Sun kit,
hardware or software. It all just works. SMCC in the UK have told me
that they are now checking every machine returned as part of an
upgrade, as some unscrupulous 3rd party maintainers are repairing them
by switching in clone motherboards, etc. And you can only tell by
opening the box.

If you can get support for this kit that you believe you can rely on
(SunService wont touch it - Computervision will, and we're cheaper.
Others exist, don't know what's local to you) then I don't think you'll
regret the decision.

Oh, some of the cloners offer unconditional money back, and keep the
machine, if you *do* find an incompatibility. Shop around.
I work for a DB company in the SF area, and we've bought many Axil
systems in recent months, some of which have been plagued with
various sorts of SCSI errors, timeouts, etc. The vendor tells us many
of the problems are related to a "woven scsi cable" underneath the
internal drives, and this seems to have eliminated the errors on at
least one system, but the jury is still out on a few others.
I have been using Tatung clones for over four years. The systems are
well built, Sun O.S. compatible, and they run all of our applications
with out any problems.

The Tatung list price is typically 20-25% less than Sun's list. We have
over 200 of their machines with very few reliability problems.

Doug Mchatton
Tatung Science & Technology Corp.
(214) 770-5520
I have not purchased any SPARC clones before but I wonder if the ULTRAs
that Axil sells support UPA port. This can affect the performance quite
a bit if it's a multiprocessor system.

20% is quite a bit though ...
If you're going to buy a clone you have to get it not for 20%, but at
least for 30% cheaper, than for the same Sun. Also take a look at HAL,
they designed and manufactured first 64 bit SPARC and their OS is 64
bit too (Solaris is still 32). They claim that it's 100% compatible
with Solaris and all applications, which are running on Solaris 2.4
will run on it without any problems.
We have had good experience with Axil machines.
We have had only good experiences with clones from Tatung. I have
heard that Axil makes a quality machine as well. We will only be
buying Sun brand from now on however as they now give a 30% discount to
educational institutions which effectively negates the advantage any
clone maker would have. If you can't get a volume discount such as
this, go with the clone. Just curious, why don't you use AIX on
PowerPC at motorola? Or for that matter, solaris 2.5 on PowerPC?
I cannot help with the clone question that you asked but I would like
to make another point. Are the clones UltraSPARC machines or
equivalent? The reason I ask this is that we have just done some
internal benchmarking of

SS10/51 SS10/133 - the same SS10 as above but upgraded with the Ross
133MHz HyperSPARC Ultra 1 170

and our figures came out as the HyperSPARC was 33% faster than the
SS10/51 and the UltraSPARC was 334% faster for our CAD applications.

I would suggest you do your own benchmarks if you can but I wouldn't
want you to jump for the cheaper machines without being aware of the
huge performance increase Sun has made with the Ultra.

We did test some SS10 clones (Axil, HamCom and Hitachi) and the Axil
appeared to be the best and looked the most robust. The only reason
that we didn't purchase any was that Sun brought out the SS20/61 just
as the evaluation finished.
Axil is a subsidary of Hyundai and has has licenced the Sparc from Sun.
My previous company (BMW) here in Munich switch over from SUN to Axil
after a extensive qualificati test phase (several man years). It ended
up with the result that the Axil workstations are 100% compliant. You
can get more Information from

Peter Kim                             Motorola Cellular Subscriber Group
PHONE: 847/523-3127                   IL93, AS320
FAX  : 847/523-8534                   600 North U.S. Highway 45
EMAIL:          Libertyville, IL 60048

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