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Sun Positions For Dual-Core With Galaxy Servers

By Clint Boulton (Send Email)
Posted Sep 13, 2005


Sun Microsystems  is taking the wraps off of its new x64 server line at a press briefing in New York today, where it is introducing machines with dual-core options to boost their performance while conserving space and power consumption. Grid computing is girding Sun's foray into dual-core servers.

If there is a theme beyond dual-core machines, it lies in grid computing, with Sun's own style.

The AMD Opteron-based machines, code-named Galaxy, are meant to run high-performance computing and Web-based applications commonly found in the data centers of financial institutions.

But rather than serving up huge boxes to power millions or billions of transactions, Sun has a different idea, said Graham Lovell, senior director of x64 servers at Sun.

For the entry level, Lovell said the Santa Clara, Calif., company is offering the Sun Fire X2100 as the "lowest cost single-socket x64 rack-mount server," starting at $745. This system, which comes in a dual-core version starting at $2,200, is 1U (1.75 inches) high.

The X2100 is built for speed and Sun expects to sell these volume servers several hundred at a time for grid environments. Roughly 40 X2100s may be slid into a rack, working as a grid environment.

"This is like a drag racer," Lovell said. "We've taken out all of the bucket seats and all of the extra weight to get the price to the right level and the performance just screams on this."

Several steps up the ladder, Sun has the new two-socket, 4-way Sun Fire X4100 and X4200 servers.

Each of these boxes features a service processor, which Lovell said allows customers to do "everything remotely that you can do if you're facing the machine in the data center." This includes alarms and notifications and the ability to connect the network remotely with a secure link.

Again, the theme of grid computing comes into play. A companion software product, N1 System Manager, allows users to exploit the utilities of the service processor and configure systems into a group and manage it as if it's a single system.

"If you think of a large data center, what they've got are racks and racks of systems, and identifying and managing those systems become quite a challenge," Lovell said. "N1 System Manager allows you to subdivide those off so you can manage many more systems side by side."

To deploy the new machines in a grid set-up, Sun has a new program to help x64 Sun Grid Rack Systems integrate any of the machines in the Galaxy line, along with the new Sun Secure Application Switch, Solaris 10 and the Sun N1 System Manager.

Grid computing is important to Sun's plans to reclaim lost server revenue share, but it's also an evolutionary shift that has seen Oracle, IBM and others turn toward the idea of using multiple computers in a network in order to handle tough tasks at less cost.

The X4100 entry-level server configuration comes equipped with the Solaris 10, one AMD Opteron processor, two 512 MB memory, one power supply unit and one service processor, for $2,195. The X4200, which has a few more I/O ports and other features the X4100 lacks, starts at $2,595.

All of the Galaxy machines have built-in hot swap functionality, allowing customers to replace system components while the systems are running. The new machines are powered by Sun's Solaris 10 operating system; the servers can also run standard distributions of Linux and Windows operating systems.

Future x64 Galaxy servers will accommodate up to 8 dual-core processors to achieve 16-way mid-range system performance levels, Lovell said.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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