For a number of years, UNIX workstations from Sun Microsystems lagged other vendors in this market segment in regards to raw performance. With the introduction of the UltraSPARC-I last year, Sun became much more competitive. The company recently introduced a new 64-bit 300-MHz UltraSPARC-II microprocessor that with 4 MB of L2 cache memory, has a SPECint95 rating of 12.7 and a SPECfp95 rating of 19.7. On this basis, it outperforms Hewlett-Packard’s 180-MHz PA-8000 by about 10% and has about 80% the performance of Digital’s 600-MHz Alpha 21164. According to Sun, it outperforms the new 266-MHz Intel Pentium II by 30% to 90% on engineering applications.
This new chip is available in both single and dual processor workstations called the Ultra 2 Model 1300 and Model 2300 respectively. The base system comes with 128 MB of main memory expandable to 2 GB. Each unit can support up to 8.4 GB of internal disk storage and an incredible 273 GB of external storage. We were surprised however that the maximum transfer rate is only 20 MB/second since 40 MB/second technology is readily available. These units support either Sun’s Creator or Creator3D graphics.
Prices for the Model 1300 and Model 2 workstations with Creator graphics start at $26,495 and $38,495, respectively. Pricing with Creator3D graphics is $27,495 and $39,495. These new systems, which provide a 30 percent performance boost over the company’s 200MHz former flagship models, are being offered at the same price the 200MHz systems were before the company cut the prices of existing products by about 30%.
The Ultra 1 Model 140 workstation, which listed for $9,995, has now been replaced with the Ultra 1 Model 170 workstation, with a list price of $9,195. The Model 170 is architecturally the same as the Model 140 but includes a 167MHz processor instead of a 143MHz processor. Sun has also reduced prices for the SPARCstation 5 workstation with a 20" monitor, to $5,895 from $6,895, mostly due to lower monitor costs.