Less than a year after putting its first machine onto the market, a minor historic event considering it was the first and is as yet the only workstation fully compatible with those made by Sun Microsystems – Solbourne Computer Inc is now claiming that it has leapfrogged the original by a generation. This week Matsushita […]
Less than a year after putting its first machine onto the market, a minor historic event considering it was the first and is as yet the only workstation fully compatible with those made by Sun Microsystems – Solbourne Computer Inc is now claiming that it has leapfrogged the original by a generation. This week Matsushita Electric Industrial’s US partner debuts its new Series 5 family, promising to set a new standard in price-performance (CI No 1,279). The box, identical to its predecessor, the Series 4, except for the CPU board, is based on a 33MHz version of Sun’s 32-bit Sparc chip that Solbourne gets from Cypress Semiconductor. In a maximum four-processor configuration, the company says, the thing is good for 65 MIPS, making it faster than anything under the Sun label. A simple single-processor model is rated at 22 Sun-style MIPS. When it becomes available in 30 days, the line will more than double the performance of Solbourne’s Series 4 products, all of which are field-upgradable to the Series 5. Solbourne is packaging its new baby in five models: everything from a desktop workstation to a large network server. The company is taking a competitive price position at every level, tagging its Series 5/501 diskless desktop workstation at $28,900. However, Solbourne claims its prices become more aggressive with its servers. For instance, a Series 5/532 is claimed to offer 40 MIPS, and comes with 16Mb RAM, and 661Mb hard disk storage for $50,300, while the same kind of money spent with DEC will only buy you 16.6 MIPS and 400Mb of disk space on a DECsystem 5400. Against a Sun Sparcserver 390, a Solbourne Series 5/802 offers 40 MIPS, 32Mb RAM, 1.6Gb of disk for $92,800. At that price Sun will give you 16 MIPS, 32Mb of RAM, 2Gb disk and a bill for $108,900, which works out at $2,300 per MIPS from Solbourne, against $7,200 from Sun. The top-of-the-line 65 MIPS workstations and servers cost $2,000 per MIPS and $3,000 per MIPS respectively. Of course, it’s important to remember that Solbourne achieves much of its price-performance edge by bundling one-years worth of maintenance in with its systems. The new boxes, while reportedly maintaining strict Sun compatibility, are claimed to incorporate several technological firsts. Besides using the first 33MHz Sparc chip, Solbourne boosts performance via a 33MHz and 4.9 Linpack MFLOPS Weitek 3171 floating point co-processor, a 128K purely physical cache, doubling what is available on the Series 4, and some cache-supporting Gallium Arsenide input-output memory RAM technology from Vitesse Semiconductor. In addition, Solbourne is upping the memory capacity of both the Series 4, which it will continue to supply, and the Series 5 to 160Mb by supplying some new $21,000 32Mb Error Code Correction memory boards, available immediately.