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Re: Symbolics & Sun-3 + Lucid Dev Envs
Everything here is personal conversation from me, not from Symbolics
officially in any sense.
Date: 14 May 87 16:28:49 PDT (Thu)
Wasn't this a recent price change? I seem to remember Symbolics prices
were much higher in the recent past.
I believe that it was about a year ago; I'm not sure exactly. It wasn't
very recent, in the units used in the "fast moving world of high-tech".
Sun needs to work on their price structure (and also large memory boards.)
If you price out a 16M system using all Sun components you have to get a
pretty large system and yes it does cost approximately 35K. The system
doesn't come cheap because you can only put one 4M memory board in a
small desk top system.
Actually, the last time I looked, an 8M system was over 35K. But I
don't know whether they've changed their prices since then, and I don't
know about third-party memory prices.
I do have a letter that Sun mailed out to their customers in the summer
of '86, in which they offered what they called a "Lisp development
system package", including a Sun-3 with 12M, a 260 MByte disk, and Lisp
software, for a special sale price of $49,900. The list price would
have been $62,750, according to their letter.
On the other hand if you take a bottom of the line Sun 3 and stick a third
party 12M memory board into it you probably could do it for much LESS than
$15k. If you add the cost of a server in you need to add a few thousand.
With 16M of memory you do almost zero paging so you can easily split the
server cost over a relatively large number of clients.
This is not what we have heard from any site we've spoken to that has
diskless Suns. In fact, we were told by one system manager that he
regrets having bought diskless nodes, and that it would have been less
expensive in the long run if they had used nodes with disks in the first
It seems unlikely that Sun would be promoting $62,750 systems to their
customers if something under one-third the price would do just as well.
I have never seriously used Lisp on Suns, I have not spoken to the
aforementioned sites personally, I do not spend my time doing
competitive analysis or pricing or marketing, and so I am hardly an
expert on these issues. I'm just passing on what I've heard from people
who I think are trustworthy. I've also seen similar opinions voiced in
mail to AIList and other such mail. It would probably be much more
useful to hear from people who have first-hand experience with both
systems, or at least with Suns, directly. And one is bound to get
conflicting reports. However, it's important to understand that main
memory and disk are major cost components of workstations intended for
serious Lisp use, and that serious Lisp use demands more of these things
than casual Lisp use. Symbolics 36xx system are really only intended to
address the needs of people who intend to use Lisp seriously.
Again, this is just personal conversation from me, not the official word
from Symbolics or anyone else.