SPARCstation vs server (SUMMARY)

Date: Fri Mar 16 1990 - 10:20:56 CST

Here's the summary that I promised. The "ayes" definitely have it, at
least for our needs. That is to say, if you are looking for a very cost
effective way of putting NFS "disk farms" on your net then 4/60 plus
third party SCSI drives are the way to go. I did my own some simple
benchmarking which gave me 0-20% less performance from the 4/60
compared to a 4/370+SMD. I guess that our job mix is much more small
file and hence access time limited (typically compiling on a client).
In addition, a decent size server memory smooths out some of that

The bottom line for us is that we can buy two 4/60 based servers with
oodles of disk for *less* than the price of one "real" server, and
probably get a better service as a result of parallelism/redundancy.
Your mileage may vary.

Specific comments worthy of repeating are:
- Put a second Ethernet interface in and use it to connect to a
  backbone. Helps isolate load if you get the partitioning right.
- Give the server at least 16Mbytes.
- Buy your add-on disk/memory third party.
- 4/60 based servers in active use found to be very reliable.
- SPARCservers are best suited for centralised time-sharing/database/
  data crunching work.
- Don't forget to put an Exabyte on each one!

In the "nay" camp came comments to the effect of:
- The existence of Legato boards is a "weak proof" that servers are
  disk bound.
- Servers should be SMD or IPI because these transfer faster and
  aren't sharing a single SCSI bus.
Personally, I reckon Legato boards are more to do with NFS
implementation decisions rather than disk throughput (although I
do actually agree with write-through caching unless the cache is
a stable store). Disk transfer rate isn't the issue for our NFS
load mix.

I'd also refer people to an article in SunSpots v9n69 by Charles
Hedrick for valuable info.

If anyone wants a copy of the replies and the above mentioned article
then drop me a line (its a bit too big to drop on the list).

        Martin Reed, Racal Imaging Systems Ltd
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