Seeking advice on new system purchase

Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by Tony Porcz » Sat, 21 Dec 1996 04:00:00



Christmas season is right ahead of us, and it's time to reward oneself,
so I'm planning a purchase of a new box to run primarily FreeBSD.  While
researching individual components, I have built a short list of
questions I was hoping more experienced FreeBSD users could help me
with.  First, the purpose of the box.  It is going to be a workstation
mainly, with light server use, no USENET or web (maybe to a limited
degree, to experiment with some Intranet solutions), but with quite a
bit of networking going on and a reasonable amount of compiling (and a
lot of documenting :-).  Here are the questions:

1. What is the perceived speedup between regular Pentium (say, 166 which
   I'm using now) and PPro (180 or 200)?  Is it worth the extra expense?
2. I have read good reviews of the latest Diamond 3D 3000 (VRAM) card.
   Since the new release of FreeBSD includes v.3.2 of XFree86, I've
   checked the docs but didn't see a specific mention of that card.
   Does anyone know if it's supported under a different name?  If so,
   has anyone had a chance to use it and see how it performs?
3. Within a foreseable future I would like to add a SCSI tape and
   perhaps even a writeable CDROM (primarily for use with another OS).
   Would Adaptec 3940 be appropriate for such a task? (to split the
   primary hard drive from tape and CD).  Or would it be better to buy
   two separate 2940s?  Am I misunderstanding the purpose of 3940?
4. I was attracted by the low price of IBM SCSI 2 GB 32160 drives.  Are
   they any good?
5. For the type of use I have described, does it make much of a
   difference to go to UW for SCSI?

And one more question not directly related to FreeBSD.  The Viewsonic
P815 got the "Best of Comdex" award.  Has anyone used it?  I've never
used Viewsonics before, but the 21" monitor with good sharpness does
appeal to me (a lot of writing).  

I appreciate all and any comments.

t.
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Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by Jordan K. Hubbar » Mon, 23 Dec 1996 04:00:00



> 1. What is the perceived speedup between regular Pentium (say, 166 which
>    I'm using now) and PPro (180 or 200)?  Is it worth the extra
>    expense?

"That depends" ;-)

For some tasks, it might not be worth the extra money (or you might have
performance bottlenecks elsewhere in your system which make the extra
CPU performance less tangible).  In other situations, or for a carefully
tuned system, the performance might be more noticible.  I like my PP/200
just fine, but then I always have to have the fastest of everything. :-)

Quote:> 2. I have read good reviews of the latest Diamond 3D 3000 (VRAM) card.
>    Since the new release of FreeBSD includes v.3.2 of XFree86, I've
>    checked the docs but didn't see a specific mention of that card.

Me neither, though you might want to ask the XFree86 folks before you
make your decision.  See http://www.xfree86.org

Quote:> 3. Within a foreseable future I would like to add a SCSI tape and
>    perhaps even a writeable CDROM (primarily for use with another OS).
>    Would Adaptec 3940 be appropriate for such a task? (to split the

I think that would be overkill. :)  A single 2940 should do fine for
what you're trying to do.

Quote:> 5. For the type of use I have described, does it make much of a
>    difference to go to UW for SCSI?

This might be something you do more for future expansion.
--
- Jordan Hubbard
  President, FreeBSD Project

 
 
 

Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by Richard Chapm » Wed, 25 Dec 1996 04:00:00


: Christmas season is right ahead of us, and it's time to reward oneself,
: so I'm planning a purchase of a new box to run primarily FreeBSD.  While

: 4. I was attracted by the low price of IBM SCSI 2 GB 32160 drives.  Are
:    they any good?

I have just installed 4 of them;

 3 for use in our office. All attached to IBM RS/6000

 1 at a customer site, also on a RS/6000

I have had no problems with them at all.  They have fast transfer rates
and low access times. I would recomend them.

Richard

--

Theatre Technican - Lighting Designer - Sound Engineer - Unix Systems Admin.

 
 
 

Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by Jeff Aitk » Thu, 26 Dec 1996 04:00:00


: 3. Within a foreseable future I would like to add a SCSI tape and
:    perhaps even a writeable CDROM (primarily for use with another OS).
:    Would Adaptec 3940 be appropriate for such a task? (to split the
:    primary hard drive from tape and CD).  Or would it be better to buy
:    two separate 2940s?  Am I misunderstanding the purpose of 3940?

There's no reason (given the situation you've described) to have more
than one SCSI controller in this system.  Actual numbers vary from OS
to OS, but you can generally have about four SCSI disk drives on a
single controller before the SCSI bus becomes the bottleneck (*).
Also, a tape drive doesn't really count because it's (a) much slower
than, and (b) accessed much less frequently than your disk drives.  So
if you get two SCSI controllers and put a disk or two on one and a tape
& CDROM on the other, both will sit idle most of the time.

Unless I had money to burn, I'd go with a single 2940.  My next upgrade
would be to both a UW controller and UW peripherals (**), because that
increases the speed of the slowest component in your system -- the disk
drive(s).

(*) With a good controller and device driver implementation, of course! :-)
I don't own an AIC-based board, but from all I've heard both the
controllers and the FreeBSD drivers for them are top-notch.

(**) Those damn Seagate Barracuda's are *very* nice drives, and f-a-s-t
too.  I don't know anything about the IBM drives you mentioned, but I
can say that the Barracuda line of drives is well worth the extra $$$.

: 5. For the type of use I have described, does it make much of a
:    difference to go to UW for SCSI?

See above.  If you've got the money, I'd spend it here before going with
a dual-controller SCSI system.  You can always add another SCSI card
later, or replace it with the 3940.

Oh, one last thing.  AFAIK, the 3940 is functionally equivalent to a
pair of 2940's.  If you decide you really need two independent SCSI
controllers, I think you can use a 3940 and save yourself a (precious)
PCI slot.

--
Jeff Aitken

 
 
 

Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by t.. » Sun, 29 Dec 1996 04:00:00




>: 3. Within a foreseable future I would like to add a SCSI tape and
>:    perhaps even a writeable CDROM (primarily for use with another OS).
>:    Would Adaptec 3940 be appropriate for such a task? (to split the
>:    primary hard drive from tape and CD).  Or would it be better to buy
>:    two separate 2940s?  Am I misunderstanding the purpose of 3940?

>There's no reason (given the situation you've described) to have more
>than one SCSI controller in this system.  Actual numbers vary from OS

He didn't say what kind of tape drive he was planning on putting on, but there
is a valid reason to place the tape drive on a separate SCSI buss (not necessairly
a controller) espically if it is an external tape drive.

If the tape is a SCSI-1 that does not support/properly implement the SCSI
disconnection command, (many older 4mm drives are like this, as well as most
QIC's) then the tape will seize the SCSI bus while it is doing it's thing.

Also, if the tape drive is external and separate, it can be turned off and unplugged
and carried to another machine, used, and returned without powering down the
Unix box.

 
 
 

Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by t.. » Mon, 30 Dec 1996 04:00:00




>: 3. Within a foreseable future I would like to add a SCSI tape and
>:    perhaps even a writeable CDROM (primarily for use with another OS).
>:    Would Adaptec 3940 be appropriate for such a task? (to split the
>:    primary hard drive from tape and CD).  Or would it be better to buy
>:    two separate 2940s?  Am I misunderstanding the purpose of 3940?

>There's no reason (given the situation you've described) to have more
>than one SCSI controller in this system.  Actual numbers vary from OS

He didn't say what kind of tape drive he was planning on putting on, but there
is a valid reason to place the tape drive on a separate SCSI buss (not necessairly
a controller) espically if it is an external tape drive.

If the tape is a SCSI-1 that does not support/properly implement the SCSI
disconnection command, (many older 4mm drives are like this, as well as most
QIC's) then the tape will seize the SCSI bus while it is doing it's thing.

Also, if the tape drive is external and separate, it can be turned off and unplugged
and carried to another machine, used, and returned without powering down the
Unix box.

 
 
 

Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by Jeff Aitk » Tue, 31 Dec 1996 04:00:00


: If the tape is a SCSI-1 that does not support/properly implement the SCSI
: disconnection command, (many older 4mm drives are like this, as well as most
: QIC's) then the tape will seize the SCSI bus while it is doing it's thing.

I stand corrected.  Although I must point out he did say "new" system :-)

: Also, if the tape drive is external and separate, it can be turned off and unplugged
: and carried to another machine, used, and returned without powering down the
: Unix box.

I thought you could do this anyway?  I've done it frequently on other
OS', and assumed you could do the same under FreeBSD.  Can't the scsi(8)
command be used to reprobe the bus when a device has been added or
removed?  The scu command under Ultrix/DUnix can do this, and I think it
can be done under HP-UX as well.

--
Jeff Aitken

 
 
 

Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by J Wuns » Tue, 31 Dec 1996 04:00:00



> If the tape is a SCSI-1 that does not support/properly implement the
> SCSI disconnection command, (many older 4mm drives are like this, as
> well as most QIC's) then the tape will seize the SCSI bus while it

  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Quote:> is doing it's thing.

Even the ``legendary'' types like the Archive Viper 150 did this,
there's no need to put them on a separate bus.

All modern QIC streamers (with `modern' probably referring to
everything younger than ~ 3 years) do it.

Quote:> Also, if the tape drive is external and separate, it can be turned
> off and unplugged and carried to another machine, used, and returned
> without powering down the Unix box.

You can also do this on your `live' SCSI bus. :) It's a matter of your
preference whether you can accept the risk.  I know quite a lot of
people (including myself :) who consider SCSI to be hot-pluggable.  Of
course, during a short period of time, the bus is not terminated then,
but if your drivers are well-written, the worst that happens is that
some bus transactions have to be repeated.

--
cheers, J"org


Never trust an operating system you don't have sources for. ;-)

 
 
 

Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by Tony Porcz » Wed, 01 Jan 1997 04:00:00



>You can also do this on your `live' SCSI bus. :) It's a matter of your
>preference whether you can accept the risk.  

I would like to thank everyone for an outstanding feedback on this.
Yes, since I've worked for a bit in the Sun side of the world, I am
used to consider SCSI devices to be "hot-pluggable".  My forays into
the Intel world are limited mostly to the old DOS world (2.1+) hence my
uncertainty.  I feel more comfortable now with my decisions.

One thing I have to say from my ongoing adventure with FreeBSD: it is an
outstanding platform!  I cannot cease to be amazed by it.  I have
recently done a presentation for my co-workers, and they were simply
stunned by what a group of true UNIX enthusiasts can do.  As a network
consultant, I can only hope that you gentlemen who contribute to this
outstanding project are appreciated and paid accordingly to your
incredible talent.

t.
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Seeking advice on new system purchase

Post by J Wuns » Fri, 03 Jan 1997 04:00:00



>   Can't the scsi(8)
> command be used to reprobe the bus when a device has been added or
> removed?

It can, but only to add new devices.  The kernel structures by now
don't allow for a removal of old devices.

A note of warning, however: `scsi -r' used to be broken for a long
time, depending on the SCSI controller you're using.  So watch out for
bogons.

--
cheers, J"org


Never trust an operating system you don't have sources for. ;-)

 
 
 

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