Technology and Trends
 USENET Archives
Relay-Version: version B 2.10 5/3/83; site utzoo.UUCP
Path: utzoo!mnetor!seismo!lll-lcc!lll-crg!hoptoad!gnu
From: g...@hoptoad.uucp (John Gilmore)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.misc
Subject: Why a Micro is not as powerful as a Vax
Message-ID: <1611@hoptoad.uucp>
Date: Sat, 3-Jan-87 19:15:14 EST
Article-I.D.: hoptoad.1611
Posted: Sat Jan  3 19:15:14 1987
Date-Received: Sat, 3-Jan-87 22:35:33 EST
References: <984@hounx.UUCP> <2880@rsch.WISC.EDU>
Organization: Nebula Consultants in San Francisco
Lines: 53

I was thinking the other day about how people claim that their Atari ST
has the power of a Vax 750 and why this is bull because the power is
not harnessed.  The Vax can be configured in hundreds of different ways
to meet peoples' needs -- e.g. local choice of disks, ports, ram,
networks, software, etc.  With the micros you are stuck waiting while
somebody figures out how to hook things up.  (Now they are all trying
to figure out how to retrofit multitasking and hook up read/write
devices to the cartridge ports and turn the joystick socket into a
network and such.)  Garbage!  It's a lot easier if you just do it right
in the first place.

A while ago people were speculating about the new Apple Unix machine;
some people claim it would have a Nu bus.  I could see Apple going with
the Nu bus only so they could claim to be following standards while in
actuality not doing so.  (I don't know whether they would want to do
that or not.)  The VMEbus is not absolutely pristine, but hey, if
you're building a machine with custom chips or gate arrays (I don't
believe a new apple box would be TTL and PALs), saving a few gates or
ns in your I/O bus interface is the least of your worries.  What would
be a win for their customers would be a VMEbus or Multibus I (or even a
Q-bus or Unibus), since it gives some flexibility in finding vendors of
boards.  Like, you could buy SMD disk controllers, Pertec tape drives,
*more serial ports*, networking, etc all off the shelf, rather than
waiting for the gaggle of little companies, like ducklings following
their mama, to bring out little boards for the new machine.

The reason a Sun is as powerful as a Vax, while an Amiga or Atari is
not, is because Sun interfaced the 68000 to just about anything you
could get on a Vax, all the software and hardware options (except
VMS).  They worked hard to make sure that any HLL program that ran on a
Vax would run on a Sun (modulo byte order and page zero problems),
rather than defining Yet Another new programming environment.  Then it
*really* was as powerful as a 750, and the 68020 versions do much
better.  Just by doing that right, Suns are worth 10x what Ataris or
Macs are -- people *queue up* with 90-day leadtimes to pay that much
for them.

[Please don't cross-post any replies to the mac/atari/amiga groups.
I just named them as examples, not so a crowd of admirers could
leap to their defense.  Really, they're nice machines...........(urp)]

I/O is the great ghetto of the micro world.

PS:  I think it's a great milestone that, now that there is a standard
electrical bus interface for IBM PC compatible peripheral cards, all the
manufacturers (including IBM) are altering the physical specs so the
cards don't fit any more.  It shows that they don't want standardization
no matter what they say.
John Gilmore  {sun,ptsfa,lll-crg,ihnp4}!hoptoad!gnu
  I forsee a day when there are two kinds of C compilers: standard ones and 
  useful ones ... just like Pascal and Fortran.  Are we making progress yet?
	-- ASC:GUTHERY%slb-test.csnet