Powered by dual-core processors, Sun Microsystems Inc.s latest Sun Fire V40z server offers solid eight-way performance in a compact 3U (5.25-inch) chassis. In eWEEK Labs tests, the V40z server demonstrated that its multicore approach will enable IT managers to significantly scale performance while retaining their current real estate and power investments.The dual-core Opteron, which was released this week, gives multithreaded applications more processing power for a specified socket count. This makes the V40z well-suited for hosting multithreaded business applications and workloads, such as those found in high-performance computing environments, and for virtualization or server consolidation projects in rack-dense environments. The dual-core V40z is a formidable competitor for other midrange, rack-optimized Opteron-based servers, such as Hewlett-Packard Co.s ProLiant DL585 and IBMs eServer xSeries 336. Although Dell Inc. doesnt currently sell servers powered by dual-core chips, company officials have indicated that Dell is interested in pursuing a dual-core option for its high-end servers. However, we believe Dell might be more inclined to harness Intel Corp.s forthcoming dual-core technology. Click here to read more about Intels dual-core plans. Only the $38,995 four-socket V40z model (which we tested) is available now, but additional configurations will become available later this year and will be priced comparably with competing midrange servers, Sun officials said. Sun also offers deals for customers that replace an Intel Xeon-based system with a V40z. Until server vendors such as IBM and HP commit to supporting the dual-core Opteron or dual-core chips from Intel in their systems, possibly as soon as this summer, the dual-core V40z server will have the best processor density in its class. AMDs dual-core Opteron architecture maintains the same thermal and power envelopes as the single-core Opteron processor design. To control power use and core temperature, the dual-core chips are clocked at lower speeds, compared with the single-core chips. The four-socket V40z uses AMDs Opteron 800 Series processors. Sun also offers a single-core, two-socket V20z (priced starting at $2,595) that is built on Opteron 200 Series chips, but Sun has no plans now to offer dual-core chips in the V20z, officials said. A single-core Sun Fire V40z server released last year uses AMDs Opteron 844, 848, 850 or 852 chip set, with respective clock speeds of 1.8GHz, 2.2GHz, 2.4GHz or 2.6GHz. The new dual-core V40z systems sport an Opteron 865, 870 or 875 chip set running at 1.8GHz, 2GHz or 2.2GHz, respectively. Sun sells two versions of the single-core Opteron-based V40z system. One supports AMDs 85-watt Stepping (revision) CG Opteron processor; the other supports the 95-watt Stepping E Opteron processor. All dual-core Opteron clock speeds run on the 95-watt "E" revision. This means customers can upgrade a single-core V40z to dual-core technology only if the single- core-equipped V40z supports Stepping E. Sun customers cannot upgrade their single-core V40z running Stepping CG chips to the dual-core technology. Soon, all Sun Fire V40z systems will be Stepping E, including systems running the slower-clocked Opterons. This will let customers upgrade to dual-core Opterons with a BIOS update, so they wont need to buy a new server, Sun officials said. Next page: Stepping up.
The V40z is powered by dual-core Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and can support both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems and applications, making it a good fit for sites that are ready for 64-bit migration and for those that are pursuing the 32-to-64-bit transition.