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Raspberry Pi 2 vs Sun E450

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19th Feb 2016 | 21:00

This afternoon I was talking to an undergrad about email in Cambridge, and showing some old pictures of Hermes to give some idea of what things were like many years ago. This made me wonder, how does a Raspberry Pi 2 (in a Pibow case) compare to a Sun E450 like the ones we decommissioned in 2004?

ETA (2016-02-29): I have embiggened this table to include details of the Raspberry Pi 3. It's worth noting when comparing the IO ports that both models of Raspberry Pi hang the ethernet and four USB ports off one USB2 480 Mbit/s bus. In the Raspberry Pi 3 the WiFi shares the SDIO bus with the SD card slot, and the Bluetooth hangs off a UART. The E450 has a lot more IO bandwidth.

Raspberry Pi 2 Raspberry Pi 3 Sun Enterprise 450
(in PiBow case)
2015 - 2016 - 1997-2002
£44 $14 000
dimensions 99 x 66 x 30 mm 696 x 448 x 581 mm
volume 196 cm3 181 000 cm3
weight 137 g 94 000 g
cores 4 x ARM Cortex-A7 4 x ARM Cortex-A53 4 x UltraSPARC II
word size 32 bit 64 bit 64 bit
issue width 2-way in-order 4-way in-order
clock 900 MHz 1200 MHz 400 MHz
GPU Videocore IV
250 MHz 300 MHz
L1 i-cache 32 KB 16 KB
L1 d-cache 32 KB 16 KB
L2 cache 512 KB 4 MB
bandwidth 900 MB/s 1778 MB/s
Network 1 x 100 Mb/s ethernet 1 x 100 Mb/s ethernet 1 x 100 Mb/s ethernet
1 x 72 Mb/s 802.11n WiFi
1 x 24 Mb/s Bluetooth 4.1
Disk bus speed 25 MB/s 40 MB/s
Disk interface 1 x MicroSD 5 x UltraSCSI-3
1 x UltraSCSI-2
1 x floppy
1 x CD-ROM

1 x UART
4 x USB
8 x GPIO
2 x I²C
2 x SPI

2 x UART
1 x mini DIN-8
1 x centronics
3 x 64 bit 66 MHz PCI
4 x 64 bit 33 MHz PCI
3 x 32 bit 33 MHz PCI

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Comments {6}

Power draw?

from: anonymous
date: 20th Feb 2016 00:38 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure that the Pi would win power draw (low) in this game of Top Trumps.

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Re: Power draw?

from: nonameyet
date: 21st Feb 2016 07:13 (UTC)

I don't remember whether I ever saw the rules for Top Trumps,
but I think that the E450 would "win" power draw since the number is higher. :-(

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from: hatter
date: 20th Feb 2016 00:41 (UTC)

Have you tried sitting a 21" CRT monitor, keyboard, mouse and a mug of coffee on a pibow ? It sits at a terribly unergonomic height, for the instant before it's crushed even flatter, making the E450 a clear winner of the "that's not what a workstation computer means" category.

On the other hand, if I had to rackmount one myself, I'd choose the Pi and maybe some blutack in a heartbeat, rather than reacquaint myself with those terrible Sun brackets and trying to wedge half a tonne of steel and plastic onto them.

the hatter

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Eleanor Blair

from: lnr
date: 23rd Feb 2016 15:18 (UTC)


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Gerald the cuddly duck

from: gerald_duck
date: 20th Feb 2016 02:43 (UTC)

Such is progress! I still remember spending eight hundred quid on a gigabyte hard drive in 1993.

On the other hand, it's worth bearing in mind that the Raspberry Pi's ethernet interface is via USB and absolutely diabolical, even if nominally 100Mbps like the E450's.

I feel it's also interesting to compare with an Intel NUC such as this one. OK, with 4Gbytes of RAM it would be £130 or so, but if it's not strictly better than the E450, it can't be far off!

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from: anonymous
date: 29th Feb 2016 12:44 (UTC)

But the Pi 3 has Wifi over SDIO - so that interface needs to be taken into account as well, perhaps as bonded ethernet.

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