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Symbolics & Sun-3 + Lucid Dev Envs

    Date: Thu, 14 May 87 13:21 EDT
    From: Daniel L. Weinreb <DLW@alderaan.scrc.symbolics.com>

	Date: Tue, 12 May 87 17:21 EDT
	From: Cliff Lasser <CAL@Think.COM>

	I think the major advantage of a Sun with Lucid Lisp over a 3600 is
	price of the hardware.  Most software managers do not appreciate the
	difference a 3600 can make in software productivity.  It's can be hard
	to justify a $50K system for a 3600 when a $10K (or less per user) Sun
	also "runs" Lisp.

    Would you please explain why you put the word "runs" in double-quotes?

    A minimum-reasonable Symbolics configuration these days costs $35,900.
    What do you consider a minimum-reasonable (for Lisp) Sun configuration?
    If your configuration is diskless, please include the configuration of
    the paging server and how many such diskless configurations it supports.

    From everything I have heard, comparable configurations of Symbolics and
    Sun machines for Lisp have very similar prices.

Sorry for the delay.  I've been overly busy recently.

It all depends on the type of usage.  For experienced full time
hackers, there is no such thing as a comparable configuration.
More hardware does not buy you a better software environment.  In
almost every sense, a 36xx is superior to a Sun (at least for

But for people without the money, or for less experienced or
occasional users, the following configuration will do fine:

Sun 160  $22k (comes with 8MBytes (I think))
16MBytes $7k  (third party memory)
CDC disk $11k (includes controller)
Lucid Lisp license $1000 (about)

for a total of $41k 

However, one would use this as a timesharing system.  This much
hardware could easily support 3-4 lisp users as long as they
don't all do serious crunching.  The individual users would use
cheap terminals like AAA's since there appears to be no advantage
to using a Sun terminal when using Gmacs.  Redisplay is just as
fast on an AAA talking through a terminal concentrator as on the
Sun terminal of the machine being used (still significantly
slower than a lispm).

Or one could go with a Sun 280 which is twice as fast as the 160
for around $50k for a complete system with the same amount of
memory (24 Mbytes).

I will admit that we have yet to try running 3 or 4 lisps on a
Sun.  We have had a couple running at once.  Most of our
experience so far has been on Vaxes.  I've seen a Vax 8800
running 3 or 4 lisps (2 or them doing continuous compiling and
GC'ing) as well as a fortran crunching program (niced) with
little perceptible speed degradation.  Since the performance of a
Sun 280 is not far behind that of an 8800, I would guess that a
Sun 280 would also make a nice timesharing system.  This summer
we'll start using our 280s more intensively so I'll be able to
better discuss this soon.

[MIPS and Lisp MIPS are not necessarily the same.  An 8800 should
have quite a few more MIPS than a 280.  However, the version of
Lucid Lisp for the Suns seems to have been more tuned than the
version for Vaxes.  My informal timings indicate that each
processor of an 8800 is equal to a 280.  Along the same lines, a
280 has far more MIPS than a 36xx, but the later always runs Lisp
faster (with no meaningful exceptions).  I might describe my
experiences with performance another day.]

By the way, the numbers I'm quoting were given to me by our
systems manager.  They should be correct but I may have
inaccurately repeated them.