Sun Gives Spark to High-End Machines

By Clint Boulton (Send Email)
Posted Oct 18, 2005

Sun Microsystems  capped the upgrade of its Unix server line for the year, fitting the Sun Fire E20K and E25K machines with dual-core UltraSparc IV+ chips. With the UltraSparc IV+ speed bump, Sun seeks to provide quite a charge for E20K and E25K server customers.

The Sun Fire E20K and E25K servers are Sun's power machines, scaling up to 72 UltraSparc IV+ processors and executing up to 144 computing threads at once.

The Santa Clara, Calif. computing systems vendor said the servers are primed for running high-volume databases, customer management, and decision support.

Company officials said in a statement that the new machines, available now, contain up to five times greater performance and 20 percent more speed than previous iterations of the servers.

However, Sun said the cost of ownership basically stays the same in terms of power and space consumed.

The E20K and E25K also feature on-the-fly uniboard upgrades, meaning customers that already own hardware boxes can take out older UltraSPARC III or IV motherboards and replace them with UltraSparc IV+ motherboards without turning off the server.

Thus, customers can give data centers a performance boost merely by "hot-swapping" some chips or popping out and replacing the motherboard without any downtime.

The genesis of the UltraSparc IV+ performance boost is that the memory and data now run closer to the processor than they did in previous UltraSparc chips.

Sun attributes the new technology to a processor shrink to 90 nanometers, which allows engineers to add more transistors. This also yields less power consumption for the same amount of logic.

UltraSparc IV+ has already been provided as a speed bump for Sun's entry-level and midrange Sun Fire V490, V890, E2900, E4900, and E6900 machines.

Sun likes to position the tandem of UltraSparc IV+ and Solaris 10, with all of its utility computing and self-management perks, as the go-to combination for financial institutions or telco providers, which require speedy computer transactions.

As usual, the server maker is facing stiff competition from rival IBM, which recently gave its Power chips a speed bump, the Power 5+.

One of these new designs includes a Quad Core module, which allows buyers to have four Power5+ 1.5 GHz cores in one socket and run up to twice as many workloads.

Research from firms,  including IDC and Gartner, have pegged Sun as the Unix server leader in units shipped while tabbing IBM as the revenue leader.

What Sun and IBM have in common in dual-core innovations is something customers have been clamoring for: Faster machines that use less power and don't take up additional space, all for the same price as similar Unix server iterations.

Article originally appeared on Internetnews.com.

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