Server Snapshots: Spotlight on Fujitsu

Drew Robb
If Unix is on the way out, no one told Fujitsu. In 2007, the vendor launched a new line of Unix servers it co-developed with Sun, as well as made incremental updates across the board.

With the release of a new line of Unix servers and updates to others since its previous Server Snapshot, Fujitsu Computer Systems (Sunnyvale, Calif.) has managed to reverse the downward trend of its server sales. Sure, Fujitsu still holds fifth place among vendors, according to third-quarter 2007 revenue figures IDC (Framingham, Mass.) released last November. However, after sales dropped 9 percent between third-quarter 2005 and third-quarter 2006, in 2007 it managed to boost sales 2.3 percent, exceeding the overall server market growth rate.

"Unix servers continue to be important platforms for mission-critical workloads, with advanced management capabilities and high RAS [reliability, availability and serviceability] levels built into the server hardware," said Jean S. Bozman, research vice president in IDC's Enterprise Platforms Group. "This level of investment in the third quarter — traditionally a slower quarter for Unix servers than the end-of-year fourth quarter — is a sign that businesses continue to place value on Unix servers and are retaining them to run important custom and ISV applications."

This continued use of Unix, despite numerous predictions of its impending demise, fits well with Fujitsu's specialty. Although the OEM also offers a range of x86 and Itanium 2 servers, it has long been known for its Unix products.

"Fujitsu, whose main markets are Japan and South Korea, is focused on maintaining its large installed base of Solaris customers, with an updated migration platform for its low-end mainframe customers," said Gartner Senior Research Analyst Heeral Joshipura, (Stamford, Conn.). "The updated SPARC platform focuses on investment protection of Fujitsu's customer base and, therefore, installed-base loyalty."

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A Plethora of Processors

Fujitsu offers a complete range of servers — from $1,000 towers for small and midsize businesses to multi-million dollar mainframes and HPC systems — using AMD Opteron, Intel Xeon and Itanium 2, and Sun SPARC processors. In May, Fijitsu released a new line of SPARC servers that it co-developed and marketed with Sun Microsystems. It also continues to offer the three product lines it did previously: PrimeQuest, PrimePower and Primergy.

The PrimeQuest line is a mainframe-class platform for running Linux and Windows applications on 1 to 32 dual-core Itanium 2 processors, up to 128 PCI-X interfaces, 2TB RAM, and 16 physically and electronically isolated partitions.

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"Fujitsu designs and builds business solutions that ensure our customers can operate at maximum productivity and profitability," said Richard McCormack, senior vice president of marketing at Fujitsu Computer Systems. "The combination of the PrimeQuest family of servers and dual-core Intel Itanium processors gives enterprises the power, reliability and flexibility they need to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving marketplace."

In May, Fujitsu announced that the PrimeQuest 580 server had set a new record for a 64-core system on the Standard Performance Evaluation Committee (SPEC) Java Business Benchmark 2005 by delivering 1,214,315 business operations per second.

PrimePower is Fujitsu's line of workstations and midrange and enterprise servers containing 1 to 128 Sun SPARC processors. Although Fujitsu and Sun launched the SPARC Enterprise server line last year, Fujitsu continues to sell the PrimePower servers as well.

Primergy consists of rackmount, tower and blade x86 servers with up to 16 cores. In September, Fujitsu added three new servers to the line:

  • The TX120 is a tower server with a single Xeon dual-core processor and up to two SAS disks. It is compact (4 inches wide by 13 inches high by 16 inches deep) and low cost ($1,058).
  • The RX330 is a 2U rackmount server with up to two dual- or quad-core AMD Opteron 2000 series processors and six hot-plug SATA or SAS disk drives.
  • The Econel 230R, which also uses two dual- and quad-core Opterons, is geared for low-budget applications. Both start at less than $2,000.

"With the Fujitsu Primergy Econel line of servers, Fujitsu is targeting an underserved market with solutions that meet the very specific IT and budget needs of the small enterprise," said Richard McCormack, senior vice president of marketing and servers for Fujitsu Computer Systems.

SPARCing Some Excitement

By far, the biggest change for Fujitsu in 2007 was the introduction of a SPARC Enterprise line of servers. Back in 2004, Sun and Fujitsu announced plans to merge their servers. After three years of development, the project finally came to fruition in April with the release of six models. Entry models use Sun's UltraSPARC T1 processor. The midrange and high-end models use Fujitsu's SPARC64 VI processors. All run Solaris 10. In October, the T5120 and T5220 servers were released with the new UltraSPARC T2 processor, which has 64 processor threads and built-in virtualization capabilities.

Gartner's Joshipura said the new systems complement Fujitsu's existing portfolio.

"The new high-end and midrange systems come with significant performance improvements and other benefits, such as hardware partitioning, hardware redundancy, memory mirroring and Chipkill technology," Joshipura said. "These, combined with Solaris features, such as Logical Domains, Predictive Self Healing and resource management, help to give a complete management, flexibility and reliability picture."

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; combines 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 and Datacenter Edition, Novell SUSE Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 520
From $75,000 to more than $1 million for large configurations
PrimePower Servers that combine fast bus technology with 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
Midrange Servers
Enterprise Servers
$6,400 (for the 250) to more than $1 million (for any of the Enterprise systems)
Primergy High-performance and reliability servers for mainstream Windows and Linux deployments available in a wide range of products from blade servers to 16-core systems for database or virtualization applications Pentium D, AMD Opteron, 64-bit Xeon, Xeon MP and Itanium-2 1- to 16-way, 1 to 32 cores, depending on the processor type Windows, SUSE Linux, Red Hat Linux, VMware ESX Server Rack (RX)
Tower (TX) TX150
Blade (BX)
From $1,000 (for the RX100) to $145,000 (for the TX600)
SPARC Enterprise Server A line of SPARC-based servers co-developed with Sun Microsystems 4 to 64 dual-core SPARC64 VI processors 2.15 to 2.4 GHz Solaris 10 Update M400
From $42,500

This article was originally published on Jan 18, 2008
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