What workstations should we get?

Peter S. Shenkin shenkin at avogadro.barnard.columbia.edu
Wed Sep 25 19:40:52 EST 1991

In article <1991Sep23.173604.8636 at leland.Stanford.EDU> kocks at jessica.stanford.edu (Peter Kocks) writes:
>Many people refer to bang-for-buck arguments when thinking of buying a
>workstation.  I think this is wrong.  The correct way to think about
>buying a workstation is pixels-for-buck or stations-for-buck.  For
>example, a nice Silicon Graphics machine (not the Indigo) costs as
>much as about 4 monochrome NeXT machines.  If you are going to have a
>group of people needing access to the workstation, one (albeit very
>nice) workstation is not enough.  I have found that most of my time is
>spent coding on a workstation, not actually running jobs.  A 20%
>difference in the speed of the CPU is nothing compared to getting
>another nice screen.  In sum, buy as many workstations as you can afford.

I think this is nonsense.  Most of the time spent coding can be done as
easily on an ascii terminal as on a "nice screen."  So buy the fanciest
workstation you can afford, add a serial port card, and hook on as many 
ascii terminals (or X-terminals, or Macs and PCs) as you like.  I have
a bunch of old ascii terminals attached to my Personal Iris, and I
almost never log onto the console -- but it's there when I need it.

Of course, "fanciest" has to be weighted in favor of features you like,
even if only occasionally, and in favor of companies you like, and
software you like, etc.  But this is just a quibble about how you
define the numerator in bang-per-buck.  Bang-per-buck is still the
right criterion, however, just as long as we realize that (FLOPS != bang).

Peter S. Shenkin, Department of Chemistry, Barnard College, New York, NY 10027
(212)854-1418    shenkin at avogadro.barnard.columbia.edu   shenkin at cunixc.BITNET
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