Server Snapshots: Spotlight on Fujitsu

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Jan 29, 2007


Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation of Sunnyvale, Calif., manages to stay on the analyst radar screen for server sales — but only just. According to the Framingham, Mass. research firm IDC, the vendor maintained fifth place in terms of factory revenue in worldwide server sales in the third quarter of 2006. But its 5.3 percent market share declined 9 percent in terms of revenue, compared to the same quarter in 2005.

Can the No. 5 server vendor rise in the ranks? Fujitsu aims to. It has refreshed all three of its server lines in recent months and incorporated dual-core and virtualization technology into many of its models.

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The company has plans to change that. It has refreshed all three of its server lines in recent months and incorporated dual-core, as well as virtualization technology, into many of its models.

"We are seeing a lot of sales for virtualization purposes," says Richard McCormack, senior vice president of marketing of Fujitsu Computer Systems. "But there are still plenty of people with high-end big SMP needs that aren't interested in virtualization. And the fact that scale-out and scale-up are both big demonstrates that there is never going to be one size fits all in the server marketplace."

PrimeQuest

PrimeQuest is characterized as Fujitsu's mainframe-class platform for Linux and Windows. It uses dual-core Intel Itanium 2 (Montecito) processors. Several PrimeQuest models are available, scaling from 1 to 32 sockets (2 to 64 cores) for a price that ranges from $75,000 to more than $1 million.

"All PrimeQuest machines have gone to dual-core," says McCormack. "We moved from the Itanium 2 Madison chip to Montecito at the end of last year."

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In addition to shifting to the new processors, Fujitsu has changed the system board, sped up the bus and doubled the amount of memory — as much as 2 TB RAM is now available. It has also been freshened up in terms of power draw and cooling demands.

"We can now fit more power into a smaller footprint than before and also draw less power," says McCormack. "PrimeQuest has also achieved a record-breaking score on a TPC benchmark for an Itanium platform running Oracle."

On the Transaction Processing Performance Council's (TPC) OLTP benchmark, the Fujitsu PrimeQuest 540 server achieved 1,238,579 tpmC (transactions per minute) with a price-performance ratio of $3.94/tpmC. The tested server had 16 Intel Itanium 2 1.6 GHz processors running Oracle Database 10g Enterprise Edition and Red Hat Enterprise Linux v4.

Who uses such systems? McCormack says he's noticed many customers moving from OS390 to PrimeQuest. The company partners with Intel, Oracle and EDS on legacy modernization. Due to the high-end qualities of this server line, McCormack says it is well-suited as a destination for ported legacy applications.

Primergy

While the most expensive servers are PrimeQuest, the volume sales come via Fujitsu's Primergy server line. These 1-way and 2-way boxes have all been upgraded recently with the latest dual-core and quad-core Xeon processors, as well as the newest Opteron dual-core chips.

Although this is technically Fujitsu's low-end line (the RX100 is priced at $1,000), it runs as high as $245,000 for the RX800. Like the PrimeQuest line, Primergy servers run on Windows and Linux. It is the company's largest range of servers — from small blades to 16-socket systems.

The RX100 rack server is a 2-way unit in a 1U box. It also has up to 8 GB of RAM, integrated remote management, and a RAID 0 or 1 capable controller. It has optional hot-plug Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) or Serial ATA (SATA) drives.

The RX800 is another rack server, but it is capable of handling more demanding applications. It uses dual-core 64-bit Xeon MP processors. As needs grow, this Primergy unit can be expanded via 4-processor base units up to a maximum of 16 processors.

In addition, Fujitsu has been working to improve the cooling and power attributes of its servers via its CoolSafe airflow system.

"We've made cooling enhancements that have been added to many of our rackmount and blades models," says McCormack.

All Intel 2-socket systems now come in quad-core versions. According to McCormack, the bestseller is the RX300, which comes in single-core and dual-core versions.

"The RX300 is a good workhorse server which is used for database, file/print, e-mail, and other processor-intensive applications," he says.

On the blade front, the BX630 is available with a dual or quad processor in a 7U form factor. Its flexible design allows blades with Xeon or Opteron processors to coexist in the same chassis. These can be arranged in a variety of ways: up to 10 2-processor, up to five 4-processor, or up to two 8-processor blades per chassis.

PrimePower

In our last server snapshot, it looked like PrimePower was disappearing. Fujitsu announced that the PrimePower line was being integrated with Sun's Sun Fire servers. Yet, eight months later, sales are still going strong, and McCormack says these models will continue to be available in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the company has made small incremental changes to PrimePower, including small bumps in processor speed.

But big news on PrimePower is coming soon — very soon. Watch out for an announcement this quarter from Sun and Fujitsu about their joint server venture.

"We are launching a new platform under the code name APL — Advanced Product Line — this quarter," says McCormack.

North American Conquest?

Fujitsu has traditionally been stronger overseas. If its aspirations to climb the server sales ladder are to come to fruition, it will have to achieve more success in the North American market.

"Fujitsu offers solid technology products, but its presence in the U.S. market has been a major hindrance," says John Enck, an analyst at Stamford, Conn. based Gartner. "Fujitsu is strong in AsiaPac and parts of EMEA. It has tried various attempts to expand into North America, but thus far, that expansion has been problematic."

McCormack counters this by saying the company is expanding its American sales, particularly of its PrimePower and PrimeQuest models.

"Though PrimeQuest is a higher-end machine for the x86 market, we are experiencing good growth in this area," he concludes.

Fujitsu's Servers, At a Glance

Server Line
Description
Processor Types
Processor Range
Operating Systems
Servers
Pricing
PrimeQuest Mainframe-class platforms for hosting Linux and Windows environments, they combine Fujitsu mainframe design disciplines with the Intel Itanium 2 processor to deliver a server with high performance, availability and flexibility. Dual Core Itanium 2 1 to 32 sockets, 2 to 64 cores Windows Server Enterprise Edition, Datacenter Edition, Novell SUSE Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 520
540
580
From $75,000 to more than $1 million for large configurations
PrimePower Servers that combine fast bus technology and the latest in SPARC processor development to provide value, performance, and scalability in a Solaris environment, as well as flexible partitioning and ECC across all data paths for reliability SPARC64 V-1.3+GHz, 1.8+ GHzm, and 2.+GHz processor speeds 1 to 128 SPARC64 Solaris 8, 9 and 10 Workgroup Servers
250
450
Midrange Servers
650
850
Enterprise Servers
900
1500
2500
$6,400 (for the 250) to more than $1 million (for any of the Enterprise systems)
Primergy High-performance and reliable servers for mainstream Windows and Linux deployments available in a wide range of products from blade servers to 16-socket systems for database or virtualization applications Pentium D, AMD Opteron, 64-bit Xeon, Xeon MP and Itanium-2 1- to 16-way and 1 to 32 cores, depending on the processor type Windows, SUSE Linux, Red Hat Linux and VMware ESX Server Rack (RX)
RX100
RX200
RX220
RX300
RX600
RX800
RX1300
RXI600
Tower (TX)
TX150
TX200
TX300
TX600
Blade (BX)
BX600
From $1,000 (for the RX100) to $245,000 (for the RX800)

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