The Opteron Advantage
A key differentiator in the new Sun systems will be the faster Opteron processors, Bechtolsheim said. AMD has designed Opteron models that run faster and consume more power than the current line of chips, he said. The higher power consumptionabout 120 watts, compared with 95 wattswas necessary to ramp up the frequency to 2.4GHz.When AMD launches the chips, they will initially be available at the higher frequency but within the current 95-watt power envelope. Bechtolsheim said that despite the higher wattage, the Opterons in the Galaxy systems will still hold an advantage over Intel Corp.-based servers. "Opteron already is twice as power-efficient as Intels [chips], and you get more than twice the throughput for the same power consumption as Intel, so were really ahead," Bechtolsheim said. "If customers are concerned about power, the only solution that makes sense is dual-core Opteron." Sun also is making improvements in the management of the servers. On the systems themselves, the company is offering remote Web monitoring and KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) capabilities. Sun also is rolling out the N1 System Manager feature, which offers auto-discovery, configuration and health monitoring from a single console that can support both Opteron and SPARC systems, Fowler said. In addition, enhancements to Suns N1 Service Provisioning System can automatically deploy Web services and implement policies on the systems. All Galaxy servers also will have the same basic hardware makeup, something that Sun will extend to the upcoming SPARC systems next year. Now that Sun is offering a broad range of server platforms that run Solaris, Linux and Windows, the key will be the management capabilities going forward, said Chuck Sears, manager of research computing for the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. Sears runs both SPARC- and Opteron-based systems and will evaluate the upcoming Galaxy systems. Suns push into the enterprise with Opteron systems "is a really interesting move," said Sears in Corvallis. "What happens is [in recent years] there has been an onslaught of tasks. Before, wed always buy a box or two and set the task with what the industry provided us. ... Im looking forward to the next six to 18 months as [the Galaxy systems] work their way in. Now we finally have the opportunity to buy solutions [rather than simply boxes]. Now it comes back to the management solutions." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
The chips are early versions of the upcoming x80 Opteron series due later this quarter, said Ben Williams, vice president of AMDs commercial business, in Sunnyvale, Calif.