I was going to just stay out of this one and let it go with a private answer
[which I already gave]. But with only two answers being NeXT and SGI, I just
There are really only three workstations to talk about--Sun, HP and SGI.
Sun and HP own something in excess of 80% of the market. We use a combination
of primarily Sun, with a smattering of SGI for graphics, and a couple of NeXT's
[including the one I have at home]. Suns are used for the bulk of the work and
for general purpose workstations; they have excellent price-performance [at
the lowend, a machine for about $2500]. They are easy to use and to set up.
There is software available for them, both commercial and PD. They are cheap
to maintain and just keep on working [every machine we ever bought is still out
there chugging, somewhere]. Most general purpose development gets done on them
first, and ported to other things. SGIs are excellent graphics engines; they
are expensive to maintain; software for them is hard to find; they don't like
to integrate with other systems easily. Graphics and SciVis sw goes there
first, and frequently stays there. HP's are fine machines and very fast.
They own a big piece of the market, but you will have a hard time finding an
HP guru, particularly around a campus. And you will need one. NeXT's are
nice, but I don't think I would want to try to batter GenBank with one. I have
a hard time finding software for it in general, and don't think that will
change unless they get picked up as part of one of the other workstation
environments [HP or Sun]. NeXTStep/Intel will make a good meld.
There is really more to choosing a system than which one is fastest today.
All standard disclaimers regarding the companies mentioned.
ernest at lenti.med.umn.edu