Sun Microsystems Inc has redesigned its architecture from the ground up to create the Sun Ultra 1 and Sun Ultra 2 workstation families and the UltraServer 1 line, announced yesterday, while retaining binary compatibility with its existing lines – and it has blown a new hole in the industry’s pricing model by setting tags starting at $16,500 for the workstations. The company calls the new architecture, in conception since 1991, UltraComputing, and claims it integrates into desktop computers technology previously associated with mainframes and supercomputers. The machines, all uniprocessors, are built around the 64-bit Ultrasparc I, which include multimedia and networking extensions on board the chip and initially comes in versions clocked at 140MHz and 167MHz. The Ultra 1s are rated at up to 252 SPECint_92 and 351 SPECfp_92, the Ultra 2 at 332 SPECint_92 and 505 SPECfp_92. Sun styles its Ultra Port Architecture, which replaces the bus, the lynchpin of the design, describing it as a switch-based interconnect of the kind usually found in supercomputers, linking processor, input-output, graphics, memory and networking; it transfers data at up to 1.3 G-bytes per second. A Visual Instruction Set is built on the motherboard to give up to five times graphics and multimedia performance improvements over other systems without add-in boards. The Creator Graphics graphics engine includes 3D-RAM, frame-buffer memory architecture developed with Mitsubishi Electric Corp and claimed to combine the best of video RAM, dynamic RAM and static RAM and to improve complex graphics performance by as much as 10 times. FastEthernet support is built onto the motherboard. Creator Graphics comes as Creator and Creator3D; both provide 24-bit colour, 1,280 by 1,024 resolution and accelerated image and video processing, windowing and two-dimensional animation. Creator3D adds support for complex three-dimensional graphics. Sparcstation 20 users can upgrade by replacing the CPU enclosure, retaining their existing memory, disks and peripherals. The Ultra 1 Model 140 with 32Mb main memory, 1Gb disk, accelerated graphics and a 17 colour monitor is $16,500. The Ultra 1 Creator3D Model 170E with 167MHz UltraSparc, 64Mb, 2Gb disk, 20 colour display and Creator3D graphics is $28,000. And the Ultra II Creator3D Model 2200 has two 200MHz UltraSparcs with 256Mb memory and costs $60,000. The UltraServer 1 Model 170E is rated at 1,450 jobs per minute on the AIM III benchmark, 2,102 Network File System operations per second on LADDIS, SPECrate int92 of over 250 and SPECrate fp92 of over 350. There are three server models, 140, 170 and 170E. The UltraServer 1 Model 140 with 32Mb and 2Gb disk costs $15,500, while the 170E with 64Mb and two 2Gb disks is $24,000.