Sun Blades Cut Three Ways

It's ribbon-cutting time on the Sun-Intel alliance.

Mix and match UltraSPARC-, Opteron- and Xeon-powered blades in the latest offering from Sun.

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On Wednesday, Sun announced the first fruits of the agreement it signed with Intel back in January — the Sun Blade 6000, a new blade platform that can house UltraSPARC T1-, Opteron- and Xeon-based blades in its 10 RU chassis.

Sun Chief Architect Andy Bechtolsheim led the design effort.

Sun is touting the blade platform for its openness. It features support for Solaris, Windows and Linux operating systems; adherence to the industry standard PCI-Express I/O architecture; open management framework; and technology support through 2012, Mike McNerney, director blades server product line, told ServerWatch.

The blade family joins the Opteron-powered Sun Blade 8000, a server blade offering announced in summer 2006.

The Sun Blade 10 RU chassis supports up to 10 blades and up to 320 cores per chassis. It offers 2.5TB of memory and five Tbps usable I/O throughput per rack. The chassis can hold a combination of Sun Blade T6300 (1 socket, UltraSPARC T1 powered), Sun Blade X6250 (2 sockets, Xeon Quad Core powered) and Sun Blade X6220 (2 sockets, Opteron powered) servers.

The Sun Blade 6000 also features optimized cooling and airflow as well as an open transparent management to facilitate fast and easy integration with an existing blade or rackmount management infrastructure, regardless of vendor.

The blade system is being positioned for virtualization and high performance computing (HPC). McNerny described it as "the ideal architecture for VMware, from both a memory and I/O capacity perspective."

At least one analyst firm is excited about the new offering. Forrester principal analyst James Staten said in his blog, "After a slow start, Sun Microsystems got serious about the blade server market with today's announcement of the Sun Blade 6000 family."

He inserts the caveat, however, that "While we do not expect this announcement to sway non-Sun customers into their camp, the new blades should influence existing Sun customers who have remained on the fence about their blade offerings to date."

The Sun Blade 6000 continues Sun's tradition of modeling blade servers off of their rackmounted siblings, McNerney said. The Sun Blade 6000 is "equivalent to the T1000 and T2000 [the difference being] a rackmount vs. blade form factor."

The SunBlade 8000's counterpart is the Sun Fire V40z, McNerney added.

Blade sales currently account for less than 1 percent of Sun's revenue, McNerney said. He noted that according to the latest server stats from IDC, blades account for 10 percent to 12 percent of all server sales. Sun sees that as a long-term realistic target.

The Sun Blade 6000 Modular System is available for immediate purchase. Pricing starts at $4,995 for the Sun Blade 6000 chassis, $5,995 per server module for the Sun Blade T6300, $3,695 per server module for the Sun Blade X6250 and $3,995 per server module for the Sun Blade X6220.

This article was originally published on Jun 7, 2007
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