frodo and o on sun sparc stations and sgi indys

Mark Israel misrael at csi.uottawa.ca
Fri Jan 21 18:15:08 EST 1994


In article <2hn1db$rpm at ursula.ee.pdx.edu>, Martin Zwick <zwick at ursula.ee.pdx.edu> writes:

> (1) does frodo and/or o run on sun sparc-stations?
> (2) (if so,) who is using them on these platforms?

   All the crystallographers *I* know use either SGI or Evans &
Sutherland hardware.  I know some NMR people who have SparcStations,
but even they use IRISes for interactive graphics.

   What with PHIGS and OpenGL, machines are becoming increasingly
interoperable.  You may soon be able to *run* whatever you want on
a Sparc (or even on an IBM PC), but whether you'll get acceptable
performance is another matter.

> (3) what are the relative merits of sun and indys as graphics machines?

   Sparcs are excellent for computation, static displays, and complex
GUIs, but interactive graphics is not really their forte.

   A collaborator has tried out Frodo/TOM on an Indy, and reports that
performance is acceptable.  I would stay away from the 8-bit Indigo 
and similar machines -- Frodo/TOM runs on them, but the picture will be 
neither depthcued nor antialiased.

> (more specifically, for $10k, which would be the better machine?)

   Don't forget to budget for peripherals.  Are you going to buy dials
(highly recommended), or are you going to try to control everything 
with the mouse?  Are you going to buy CrystalEyes hardware stereo, or
will you settle for side-by-side split stereo?

> (4) what are advantages/disadvantages of frodo vs. o?

Advantages of O:

--  It's by far the most powerful program.  You can customize it to
    do almost anything, not just the things that crystallographers
    normally want to do.

--  It is (as far as I know) the only program that has Real Space
    Fit, for identifying bad parts of your structure.  (Real Space
    Fit is not to be confused with Real Space Refinement --  that
    we have.)

--  It may be "the way of the future" -- the program that's conquering
    the world.  I don't think the rest of us can compete with the
    rate of software development on O.

Disadvantages of O:

--  The learning curve is quite steep.

--  You may have to spend quite a bit of time writing macros to get
    it to do what you want.

--  It's a bit of a hog.  Even if the user is doing nothing (unless
    he's iconized the graphics window), O will consume resources.
    Your background jobs won't get the CPU time they deserve.  If
    you move the mouse outside the O window to do something else,
    O will still read your mouse buttons, and unexpectedly rotate
    the molecule.

Advantages of Turbo:

--  It's the easiest program to learn.  It has nice friendly pulldown
    menus.

--  The graphics are fast.

Disadvantages of Turbo:

--  You may have difficulty getting the support you want.

Advantages of Frodo/TOM:

--  It's available *free* (to academic users), with *source code*.  
    If you get sufficiently annoyed about a problem, you can fix
    it yourself!  When SGI announces an upgrade and your
    executable stops working, you *don't* have to wait for
    someone else to fix it.  You don't have to worry about being left 
    out in the cold, as Chain users were.

--  (For those of you who remember Camillau's last version:)  It's
    better than it was!  We've added high-speed drawing routines
    for the maps, and many features inspired by O or Chain:
    rotamers, hydorgen bonds, Dgnl/DgLp, dynamically updated 
    Ramachandran plots, water manipulation, various hardcopy 
    mechanisms, orthogonal sideview, etc.

--  It does *not* suck CPU cycles while doing nothing!

Disadvantages of Frodo/TOM:

--  The command interface is archaic and (unless you've used Frodo
    before) a bit cryptic.  No pull-down menus.

--  If you *do* want to modify the source code, it may take you a 
    while to understand it!  It's hairy, owing to the layering of 
    modifications by successive programmers.

--  The support we provide is strictly on a volunteer basis.  (But
    we're a friendly bunch of people.)


misrael at csi.uottawa.ca			Mark Israel




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