Sun Powers New Servers With Opteron Chips, Solaris 10

Sun yesterday announced a new family of enterprise-class x64 multi-core available servers powered by AMD Opteron processors and running the Solaris 10 Operating System (OS).

Sun said the new servers are about one-third the power, one-and-a-half times the performance, and cost half as much as comparably configured 4-way servers from competitors.

“The new Sun Fire X4100 and Sun Fire X4200 servers are designed to deliver the highest CPU performance in an enterprise-class 1U and 2U chassis, with complete remote management capabilities,” said Andy Bechtolsheim, chief architect and senior vice president of Network Systems Group at Sun Microsystems. “These systems deliver a combination of performance, features and value to customers that is not available from any other server supplier today.”

Performance Improvement

The new industry-standard x64 multi-core available server family begins with the Sun Fire X2100, the lowest cost single-socket x64 rack-mount server, starting at US$745, and includes the two-socket, 4-way Sun Fire X4100 and Sun Fire X4200 servers.

“The move from 32-bit to 64-bit computing offers a dramatic improvement in performance and reliability, enabling people to use computing resources in exciting new ways,” said Chris Phillips, general manager, Windows Server Division, Microsoft. “The new Sun Fire servers running Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions, Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and the wide range of 64-bit applications on the Windows platform help deliver 64-bit computing into the mainstream.”

Sun said future servers in this same family are being designed to accommodate up to eight multi-core processors to achieve 16-way mid-range system performance levels, offering customers the ability to standardize x64 servers across their entire IT infrastructure.

Sweet Spot

Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff told TechNewsWorld that Sun’s big breakthrough was its decision to go the Opteron route and to report and reoptimize Solaris for X86. Still, until the X2100, X4100 and the X4200, Haff said Sun’s efforts have been somewhat hobbled.

“Sun had Solaris, to be sure, but they’ve been selling off-the-shelf OEM servers,” Haff said. “Now they have, at least in the real sweet spot of the market, some of their own designs that really are considerably differentiated from a lot of the other rack mount servers out there. Sun is legitimately at the leading edge of two-way Opteron server design with features like cooling and power efficiency and so forth.”

Industry Support

The industry-standard x64 servers can also run standard distributions of the Linux and Windows operating systems and are qualified to work with Sun’s portfolio of software, storage and network switches.

“This announcement is an extension of the growing collaboration between Microsoft and Sun, which is helping deliver new choices for customers who want interoperable server products from leading technology vendors,” said Phillips.

Sun said it has a growing list of partners working to deliver this new x64 family of servers, including industry leaders such as AMD, BEA Systems, Checkpoint, Computer Associates, MySQL, Oracle, SAP, SunGard, Symantec and VMware. In addition, there are more than 1,600 enterprise applications supported on the Solaris 10 OS for x86/64.

Haff said he would not expect a Microsoft shop to migrate to Sun as its first choice for Windows infrastructure, but Sun may capture a few companies that are mostly Linux or Unix shops but need some Windows support.

“This is basically Sun’s way of telling customers that they don’t need to go to HP or IBM to buy that 10 percent of their infrastructure that’s Windows-based,” Haff said. “It really does allow Sun to be a one-stop shop.”

Deploying HPC Applications

Sun also announced new offerings and promotions to help customers accelerate the deployment of high performance computing (HPC) and Web services applications, providing a new way of deploying Grid solutions, one rack at a time.

Sun’s new x64 Sun Grid Rack Systems integrate the new family of industry-standard Sun Fire x64 servers, networking and software through the Sun Customer Ready Systems Program, and are designed to accelerate Grid implementation and deployment time by up to 90 percent.

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