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XP1000 Workstation 57

Anonymous Coward writes "Compaq is announcing new workstations and servers based on the 21264 microprocessor. They run Linux and they scream (specFP of 58.7). Compaq " The web cast requires registration. Hopefully, cypherpunks/cypherpunks has been set up already. Anyway, that is one fast chip, and a bit pricey, too - over US$7000 for a low-end NT model, or almost $10,000 for a Tru64 Unix model. On a related note, a friend is about to go off to college and has about five grand to blow on a nice Alpha for NT and Linux. Any suggestions for him?
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XP1000 Workstation

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  • Check out and, they have the best prices (and most highly recommended) companies to buy an end-user, workstation variety Alpha from. Don't buy one from Dig^H^H^HCompaq, you will pay way, way too much.

    Probably a 500MHz 21164 would be more than ample for your friend. That is more powerful by a bit than PII-400/450 on integer, and a lot more powerful on floating point. And the price for those machines stripped this summer was $1.5k, and should have dropped by now even further with the release of 21264. You should be able to build a nice system for under $2k.

    The biggest advantage of Alphas over Intels is you break free of Intel's strangle hold on the PC market, you get a neat sounding machine, and it is still compatible with most PCI (and some ISA) cards. Not to mention, a PII-xxx sounds like just another old PC, but a Alpha Workstation inspires awe in your friends, especially Linux people who know what Alphas are. Basically they make cool, powerful (esp FP), Linux boxes! :)

    PS. The XPS1000 and the dual 21264 machines look nice, but a bit underpowered. I think I will wait for the quad 21264 before I lay any money down. :)
  • Did I not read of $250 Samsung 533Mhz Alpha's here a while ago? Why does not some company make a *cheap* Alpha/Linux server?
  • Don't waste your money on a computer. Spend less than 2 grand on the computer to get 95% of the capability that you would get spending that 5 grand, and use the rest of your money for something really interesting, like travel, books, internet service, etc.
  • of course, a DU license is about $2k (I believe) so that's part of the difference, but there's also the gotcha that NT only runs at 32-bit on these guys..


  • ...given similar L2 cache sizes and reasonably modern hardware, it's not really that much better than an UltraSPARC or high end PowerPC based AS/400 system for serious number crunching.

    That is very application-dependent. Don't try running the []
    MM5 meteorology model on a Sun, unless you want a hindcast instead of a forecast! Our benchmarks indicate that while our air pollution models run fine on Crays, DEC^H^H^HCompaq Alphas, SGIs, or Suns, the meteorology model runs reasonably only on the first 3. (Actually, we find that a 2-year-old 21164/400 machine matches the rest without even going to the latest 600+ MHz 164's or to the 264's)

    For air pollution forecasts, have a look at this [].


  • They had can had for a song, some of the Indy, Indigo2 and O2 models.
  • Buying a $5000 computer is daft.
    21" monitor and overclocked celeron is better than an O2K with cheap monitor, and it depreciates a LOT slower.

    Spend the remainder (c.$3000) on 1 year put option on MS. You'll then have at least $5000 left to spend on a computer next year.
  • A backup device that can handle the average drive size these days is pretty pricey.

    I say buy a PC for 1-2 grand and a DDS-3 tape drive for another grand. The tape drive will serve your needs for five years and more, the rest of the system will seem clunky after two.

    A CD-RW might work, but I'd go with the tape-- the media can be written a larger number of times, and 600MB for the CD just doesn't compare to the 12 GB on tape.

    There are too many students out there who neglect backup entirely.

    Oh, and buy a good monitor. Lesser monitors degrade sharply after 2-3 years.
  • I have a 12 cassette DAT autoloader I bought for $300 from an auction site. It's DDSI, so I can use the cheapest possible tapes with it. Just pop in the magazine and come back the next morning...
    I'm probably going to get myself one of
    these within a month...
    1. DCG Inc. []
      Great service, good prices. (story follows)
      I ordered myself a UX-600mhz (intergrated scsi+ether) for x-mas (last minute). The day after confirmation, they called back with news that (due to the holiday) 2mb-UX boards would be out of stock for a time. Instead of saying "Thanks for the money, you can wait a few weeks", Steve (the owner) offered me an LX (more expensive) + SCSI controller and ate the cost difference.
      I can't make any promises that they'll do the same for you, but that experience alone impressed the hell out of me.
      Anyway, if I had $5,000 to spend on hardware now, I'd either:
      • Install PVM on 2 of their $2,200 boxes (533mhz, IDE) and spend the extra on ups+disk+ram
      • Get the $4,300 "cool box" (UX-667mhz, 4mb-cache, SCSI).
    2. Microway []
      No personal experience here, but they're always running specials... that and everyone's heard of them.
      If you really want to chomp on data, try one of their quadputer cards (I've always wanted to...)
    Remember: Intel is the question -- Alpha is the answer.
  • "On a related note, a friend is about to go off to college and has about five grand to blow on a nice Alpha for NT and Linux..."

    Okay, first, you can get a nice 533 MHz 21164 LX workstation for about half this- best prices I've seen are from DCG []. Add options as you would for an Intel(-compatible), but beware, a lot of hardware doesn't work for Alpha, esp. video cards.

    However, does your friend really want an alpha? It is getting more mature constantly, but should really be considered a beta platform. The big problem is that there's an awful lot of code written assuming pointers and ints are the same size, but Alpha's 64-bit pointers of course are not. So there is no Netscape, no WordPerfect, a good Mozilla hasn't been built since last July, GNOME and KDE have both had lots of 64-bit problems which showed up in Alpha and (I think) Sparc64 and nowhere else. About one in three kernels builds out-of-box (~1/3 don't build, ~1/3 don't boot), and until very recently, XFree86 had numerous common behaviors which crashed it. (However, there is an Applix for Linux/Alpha which I've heard is great.)

    I use Alpha because of the awesome floating performance for my particular apps. I've heard memory bandwidth (~50% above 450 Mhz PII) makes it a slightly better price/performance web server too- but don't quote me. For everything else, it's really not any faster than a same-priced PII, and because of 64-bit problems, count on even good open-source code to be buggy or even unusable, or you will be disappointed.

    OTOH, if you're up for the adventure or want the floating-point power and want to help make Linux work on the next generation of hardware, by all means go for it!

  • "How come I'm reading your message in Navigator 4.5 on Alpha Linux?"

    How come it freezes on me after an average of about 1 minute? (Yes, I followed the FAQ [] at AlphaLinux [] to the letter.)

  • Like me- I'll use it to pay off my F***** loans that I got because I didn't have an extra 5 grand to blow on a computer. Get real.
  • I think you'll find that while the FP performance on an Alpha is exceptional the I/O subsystem is really not much better than a PC until you buy a high end system. This means that if you're running CPU intensive applications which require little I/O throughput to disk or network subsystems the Alpha is a good choice. But if you're looking for heavy transaction processing, like with a huge database connected to a web server, a Sun E4000 or E3500 is going to provide significantly better performance (even single CPU).

    The Alpha may have been the first 64 bit CPU to come to market, but given similar L2 cache sizes and reasonably modern hardware, it's not really that much better than an UltraSPARC or high end PowerPC based AS/400 system for serious number crunching. And the IBM AS/400 and Sun E3500/4000/10000 systems just eat it's lunch for raw I/O.
  • Spend $2000 on some decent computer (PPC, i386).
    Put it together if you want to feel good about

    Take the other $3000 and plan a trip around the
  • they could be doing 3d graphics in 3dsmax or maya... which really does need all the power you can throw at it.

    You'll be amazed!
  • Caching is not enabled on the reverse proxy, so all requests get passed through to the 386. Plus, the counter.dll is on the 386, so all of the counter hits had to be done by the 386 as well.

    Man, talk about /. effect! I got over 70000 hits just TODAY! Wow! Cool! I freaked when I saw that!

    Now I dread a call from @home saying "I'm sorry, but you've been using too much bandwidth with your 386, we are going to have to disconnect you" That would suck!
  • My suggestion: DONT buy a top of the line machine with the $5000. Buy a $1250 machine every year you are in college. In four years, even the best alpha will seem pathetic. Better to have a "pretty damn good" computer every year than a horribly obsolete one. You pay a huge premium for being ahead of the curve -- a $5000 system is not five times better than a $1000 system.
  • My thinkpad 380xd is sufficient for me. But I have peripherals out the ass...
    Remember, schools often have unix machines, so you do not have to buy one yourself.

    A decent IBM Thinkpad can be had for ~1500.
    Invest the rest in stocks ;)
  • has some good specials on alphas.
  • Think this goes back to the Guinness poll.. lemme see... how many cases of Guiness would $5K get us?
  • 5 imacs... all the WAY.. :-)
    (can sell them off at a profit to idiots on campus as an option)
  • a 18 year old needs a sever class workstation to host out his girlfriends webcam, and make his parents think that it's just a "normal" computer when they visit :)

    It has nothing to do with the size of their damn dick!!!!!!
  • You guys must be living sheltered lives. With $5K I'd actually buy the books for my classes, stop skipping meals to save money, and maybe get basics for my apartment like a table, a chair, and a chest of drawers. I might even get my car repaired. I don't even own my own computer, and I've got enough other things to worry about paying for I won't even be thinking about buying one anytime soon.
    Cheers, Bill
  • These prices are consistent with what I've seen. If absolute performance is your friend's primary system criterion, and your friend plans to do a lot of floating-point intensive work, then the alpha system is probably the best bet. From a cost/performance POV, though, I'm still not sure that a PC cluster wouldn't be better.

    AFAIK the only difference between the $5k NT workstations and the $10k Unix workstations is software and the support contract. I could be wrong about this, though. Compaq provides a handy utility that lets you work out the cost of various system configurations. Fill in their information form and they'll point you to the appropriate web pages.

  • And the price on those systems are... ?

    I've been playing with Compaq's system configuration/pricing tool.

    14 processor GS140 -> about $800k US.
    4 processor 8400 5/625 -> about $400k US.
    4 processor 8200 5/625 -> about $200k US.

    The one irritating flaw in the tool is that it says "see dealer" for most workstation prices.

    I'm told that it is more cost effective to build something like a Beowulf cluster of alpha workstations than to buy a server, as long as you are running calcaulations that can be easily split up and don't saturate the network with communications traffic.

  • The 21264 machines start at $7119 [], with 128 MB RAM and 4.3 GB disk. That's with Windows NT, but you can always return that for a refund, right?

  • I spent about $2300 US for a 533MHz UX with almost all the trimmmings (monitor not included) at Hard Data Ltd. ( They're in Canada but they ship UPS 3day select and will work with you to find the system you always wanted.
  • Take a looooonnngg vacation :)
  • LOL
    Just Hit enter, no username, no password...
  • " It is running on the worst of all worlds: A Packard Bell 386sx/25 with 8 megs RAM, running reverse-proxied behind a Microsoft IIS 4.0 machine."

    Wouldn't that mean IIS 4.0 it taking all the hits, and the Win95 machine only gets one if the page has changed? Meaning the Win95 machine, is basically, doing nothing all the time? Just a thought...
  • heres what i would do with $5G
    a) by an awesome DELL/IBM Laptop (366mhz) and penguinize it. ($4500 for a really nice one)
    b) get a $2000 Comp (p3 when its out) and a great sony 21" monitor for like $1700.
    c) buy a nice comp for like $3000 and use the $2000 for some fun..

    my ideaz,


Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson