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UX400S: a decent machine
Having used the UX400S for several months now, I am glad to announce
that this machine is fast and relatively trouble free. From what I
understand, however, it is not selling up to Symbolics's expectations.
It's cheap (approx $20K for a development system).
It's fast: as fast or at least close to as fast as the XL--certainly
a lot faster than the MacIvory because it only uses the host's buss for
SCSI and network requests. All memory is directly accessed on its own
Many users can access it at the same time. The board has no
preferred host; it merely supports X with full Genera windowing. If
your applications are polite, the users won't even step on each others
toes. My delivery architecture for one of my applications is to put
one UX400 on the network for every 4 potentially simultaneous users
(approx. 20 real users).
Some of the initial tie-ups were Sun host compatibility. Sure,
Symbolics chose the weird path of only authorizing file servers as
hosts. But I have mine working well in a 4/110. You certainly won't
get it in a SparcStation 1 (pizza box) because that box has no VME
slots, but if you have those pizza boxes, you also have a fileserver
that you could put the UX in. I initially worried about the board causing
problems in its host, but I haven't had any such problems yet.
With only minor (as yet not understood) problems, I've had the board
access Sun tape drives on remote hosts. [Actually, the problem was
communicating with another Symbolics to transfer a file picked off of a
Sun tape drive.]
Many products come built in: NFS, TCP/IP, and X. These all work
substantially better than their counterparts in 7.2.
As an aside, concerning the Unix vs. Symbolics debate, I fall in line
with other commercial users: I don't see the price difference that
others claim to see. I do agree that Symbolics's layered products and
support are expensive, but there isn't much to compare them to. From
what I understand, though, universities get scandalous discounts on the
layered products which makes me want to cry---why should I pay for the
universities to get a free ride!
I speak for myself as a user of this product.