help selecting a workstation

Darrell R. Davis davis at
Thu Mar 18 14:57:43 EST 1993

I work in an environment with Suns and SGI's.  I have managed a small
network of Suns and SGI's for 3 years.  I am a P.I. who does
biological structure determination using NMR spectroscopy.

First point:  As far as I know there is very little (read none)
software for NeXT computers in our field.  The woeful processors mean
that we wouldn't use these even if the software was there.

Second point: We use Suns only because they are required on the NMR
spectrometers.  The Suns are useful for number crunching (although not
really very fast), and we are running the GDE software for some new
forays into RNA sequence comparison and folding.  There are some
really cheap Suns, but they aren't adequate for real work.  A useful
configuration is the same price or more than a comparable SGI box.

Third point: SGI is the only platform that is universally supported by
molecular modeling groups.  The SGI machines are *much* easier than
Suns to administer in my opinion.  The price performance for
computational intensive processes is reasonable.  Even the Entry Level
graphics is more than adequate for most tasks.  We primarily run
Biosym and Hare Research software, but also have Quanta/Charmm and
Amber as well as a busload of miscellaneous utilities.

Final Points: Unless you are going to write your own code, you need to
pick a box that runs the applications you wish to use.  Also look at
which machines software vendors use to develop their software.  Often
there is an optimal platform and then other platforms that are
"supported."  Issue like expandability, upgradeability, and
connectivity are important since your computer will be obsolete in 6
months and you are going to need 4 gig more disk than you originally

Darrell R. Davis     
Assistant Professor  
Medicinal Chemistry  
University of Utah  
SLC,  UT  84112  
(801) 581-7006  
FAX:  581-7087  
davis at  

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