System News
Sun Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation Reviewed
Power and Performance in a Portable Form Factor
April 17, 2006,
Volume 98, Issue 3

...a desktop unit with the configuration of this workstation would be impressive. In a portable unit, it is astounding.

-- Martin Brown

Taking the power of UltraSPARCR IIIi CPU and placing it in a mobile unit is astounding, writes Martin Brown in an article hosted on Free Software Magazine about Sun's mobile workstation, and that is exactly what you get with the Sun UltraTM 3 Mobile Workstation. In his review of this mobile system, Brown notes that its main appeal is the full-blown, 64-bit, CPU that normally is only found in a workstation or server; however, Sun has released this power into a portable form factor.

Software bundled with this system is particularly appealing for developers wanting a portable, binary compatible workstation, Brown surmises. It comes with the SolarisTM 10 Operating System (Solaris OS), Sun JavaTM Desktop System, SunTM Studio 10, Sun JavaTM Studio Enterprise, Sun JavaTM Studio Creator and offers Gnome for the user interface. The UltraSPARC CPU provides full binary compatibility between laptops and SPARCR-based server environments. It also features 15-inch at 1400x1050 and 17-inch at 1440x900 TFT LCD displays for a high-quality output display offering sharp images in a variety of ambient light environments.

"The large screen makes it easy to work with multiple documents and the resulting code you develop can be executed on SPARC-based servers without any recompilation or changes required," Brown writes.

Besides developer-appeal, Brown also believes the Sun Ultra 3 Workstation is ideal for military and government departments that use SPARC CPU and could take advantage of the mobile unit's binary compatibility and relieve the costs of redevelopment. Additionally, power and portability could be equally appealing to a variety of industries for use at trade shows and/or training environments.

Basics offered with this Sun mobile workstation include:

  • 64-bit UltraSPARC CPU
  • 15-inch model comes with a UltraSPARC IIi CPU at 550 or 650 MHz
  • 17-inch model comes with a 1.2 GHz UltraSPARC IIIi CPU
  • Supports up to 2 GB DDR ECC SDRAM
  • RAM is backed up by up to 80 GB of hard drive storage and a full range of ports, including Gigabit Ethernet (100 Mbps on the UltraSPARC IIi models), four USB ports (2 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 1.1), PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse and two serial ports (RS-422)
  • High-performance 2D graphics card supporting 24-bit color
  • Unit can be connected to a monitor through the standard VGA connector located on the back
  • Set of stereo speakers and full-audio capability with microphone and line in and dual headphone sockets through a set of four jacks on the back of the unit
  • CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive; can also be used independently of the computer for audio playback
  • Wireless networking at 11Mbps (802.11b) is an option
  • Smart-card reader slot to enable authorized use and network authentication
  • Prices range from US$3400 to more than $9000

Brown reminds readers that the Sun Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation is not a laptop. "The correct description for the unit is in the title - 'mobile workstation.' And that is exactly what you are getting. Big it may be, but it is a lot smaller than a comparable Ultra IIIi desktop unit, and it comes with a handy built-in display," he writes. "To get the level of power that is on offer within this unit would be difficult, even when looking at some of the 'desktop replacement' units available within the Intel/AMD space. Actually, a desktop unit with the configuration of this workstation would be impressive. In a portable unit, it is astounding. And key to that power is the Ultra IIIi CPU."

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Other articles in the Workstation section of Volume 98, Issue 3:

See all archived articles in the Workstation section.

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