By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2004-08-16 Print this article Print

Suns affordable Sun Fire V40z offers solid performance, strong management and good scalability. The Sun Fire V40z will be a good fit for enterprise shops looking to upgrade midtier x86 servers or getting ready for 64-bit migration.

In addition to the four-way V40z, Sun introduced this year the two-way Opteron-based Sun Fire V20z. Both servers come in a rack-mount form factor: The V20z stands at 2U (1.75 inches) and the V40z is 3U (5.25 inches).

The Sun Fire V20z includes the lower-end Opteron 200 Series CPUs and will be a good fit for general-purpose computing or as a cluster node for high-performance computing applications. The Sun Fire V40z offers the higher-end Opteron 800 Series CPUs with larger memory and storage capacity. The V40z is a better choice for midtier computing needs, especially for shops looking to take advantage of the 64-bit memory address to run demanding enterprise applications.

The Sun Fire V40z has an aggressive entry-level price of $8,500 for a dual-processor configuration with 2GB of memory. The V40z that we tested had four Opteron 848 processors; 4GB of memory; a single 73GB hard drive; integrated Gigabit Ethernet ports; an SSP (System Service Processor); and dual, redundant power. The system as tested costs $12,495.

The Sun Fire V40z ships with the latest build of Solaris 9.0 for x86. This includes important drivers that will allow the operating system to talk to the SSP for out-of-band management. The Sun Fire V40z also supports standard 32-bit and 64-bit Linux from Red Hat and SuSE, as well as Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003. (We tested with Solaris 9.0 and SuSE Linux.)

The Sun Fire V40zs closest competitor is Hewlett-Packard Co.s ProLiant DL585. The ProLiant DL585 also features a four-way Opteron configuration but offers a higher memory capacity, with as many as eight DIMM slots per CPU (a total of 32 DIMM slots compared with the V40zs maximum of 24 DIMM slots).

While the ProLiant DL585 has an edge in terms of memory scalability, the more compact V40z might be a better fit for space-constrained data centers. An industry-standard server rack can accommodate as many as 14 V40z servers, but only 10 of the ProLiant DL585s larger 4U (7-inch) chassis.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of HPs ProLiant DL585. Sun has outfitted the Sun Fire V40z with solid management features, including an integrated SSP and front LCD panel. The LCD panel shows the power state of the system and can be used to shut down and reboot the server quickly.

The SSP provides out-of-band remote control, system health monitoring and alerting capabilities. The SSP supports industry-standard management protocols—including SNMP, IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) 1.5 and CLI (command-line interface) over SSH (Secure Shell)—and runs on auxiliary power so that the V40z can be accessed even if it is offline. The SSP can be accessed via two dedicated 10/ 100M-bps Ethernet switched ports or the serial connector located in the rear server panel.

The Sun Fire V40z provides as many as seven PCI-X slots, four of which run at 133MHz. Although some of the V40zs PCI slots are hot-plug-ready, they are not currently working due to lack of driver support. Sun officials said hot-plug PCI drivers will be available in a future upgrade.

We were impressed with the modular chassis design of the Sun Fire V40z. The power supplies and internal fans are hot-swappable and can be easily serviced. Two of the four Opteron processors and their respective memory reside on a daughterboard that can be accessed and removed from the front of the server, making it a snap to upgrade a system from two-way to four-way.

Check out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center at http://infrastructure.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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