AICS Research, Inc.'s first HP3000, a Series 33.
(Photo circa 1978).
This Series 33 cost $165,000 in 1978, more than three times
the cost of the building that housed it. When inflation is taken
into account, the cost of this machine would be well over $400,000 in
today's dollars. Performance, although miniscule by today's
standards, was sufficient to allow 8 to 12 simultaneous IMAGE database
The system was purchased with 256K of RAM and 120MB of disc (a single
HP7925). The 33's main memory was upgraded almost immediately to 512K, a
level at which
it remained for five years. Only at the end of its life, when
memory prices began to fall, was it upgraded to its full 1MB
One of the mechanical attributes that allowed such a large number of
on such a small box was the use of the then-new 1200 baud,
"high-speed" modems. These slow speed modems evened out the dataflow and
fed it tothe Series 33's processor slowly enough that the CPU was
allowed time to
process each request, with minimal interference from the other users,
and thus helped keep response times to generally one or two seconds.
Buying New & Used Equipment The table on the right compares the relative performance of the most common HP3000 systems, and should prove valuable when considering a system upgrade. The relative performance values of the various systems are given in parentheses. Over the course of the HP3000's history, performance has been improved by more than 50,000%. During that same time, cost of system ownership has fallen dramatically. An abundance of remarketed (used) equipment has recently become available, making upgrading especially attractive. However, given the cost of the systems that are now available, and their relative performances, little consideration should be given to purchasing any system older than the Third Generation of PA-RISC processors. Other considerations must also be taken into account. Secondary considerations are items such as the compatibility of the peripherals that you currently own with the requirements of the new system, the likely length of hardware support, the future hardware requirements of the MPE operating system, and the costs associated with upgrading the various software packages that you may be running.
Notes on the Relative Performance Measurement Scale Used HP has used three different performance scales for the HP3000 during its lifetime, but as in the measurement of distance, it doesn't matter if you measure length in miles or kilometers, the distance remains the same. The same is true for system throughput. The earliest performance measurements used the Series 39, 40, and 44 processors as their standard. All measurements were performed relative to those processors, thus the Series 39 had a rating of 1.0. When the Series 918 was introduced (with a relative performance ratio of 10 to the Series 39), HP rescaled the ratios by dividing everything by 10, making the Series 918 the new standard system. And in August of 1998, HP devised a third measurement index which was called the "HP performance unit." In effect, what they did was to begin to use a new set of test suites which they felt were more appropriate to the way that HP3000s were being used. Nonetheless, all of these various metrics can be rescaled to be consistent with one another. Simply for historical purposes, to allow us to compare every common version of the HP3000, we continue to use the original scale by applying a correction factor to the measurements, as necessary. The numbers on the right aren't absolute measurements of anything other than the time the various systems take to process one of the several HP test suites, but they do allow you to compare with some accuracy the relative performances that you should expect when upgrading to higher performing system.
Relative Performance Matrix for Various
The "Classic" Series Processors
(0.5) Series 30, 33
First Generation PA-RISC Processors
(2.9) Series 925
Second Generation PA-RISC Processors
(1.9) Series 920
Third Generation PA-RISC Processors
(10) Series 917, 927, 937, 947
Fourth Generation PA-RISC Processors
(10) Series 918
Fifth Generation PA-RISC Processors
(24) Series 929/020
Sixth Generation PA-RISC Processors
(17) a-class A400-100-110