It was the X4600 that the Tokyo Institute of Technology used to build TSUBAME, the supercomputer that ranks as the seventh most powerful computer in the world. The supercomputera cluster of systems connected via InfiniBanduses 10,480 Opteron chips and has a sustained peak of 38.18 teraflops, or trillion floating point operations per second. "[Sun] competitors did not have x86-based fat nodes, i.e., those with a large number of CPUs and large memory," said Satoshi Matsuoka, the professor responsible for the computing infrastructures at the schools Global Scientific Information and Computing Center. "This is necessary because good, general-purpose supercomputers are typically built out of such fat nodes, giving various benefits both from user and system administrative perspectives, such as various algorithmic advantages by having large shared memory, support of both shared memory and message passing programming models, lower node count for reliability and manageability, etc. "HP eight-socket nodes were not dense enough and used too much power; IBM never offers x86 eight-way nodes that are supercomputing-capable. This also goes for other Japanese vendors such as Hitachi, Fujitsu, etc."The two dual-core Opteron-based Sun Fire X4500 archival storage server can hold up to 24 terabytes of data within its 48 hot-swappable disk drives. It has recorded very high throughput numbers in testing: 1G bps from disk to network and 2G bps from disk to memory, Bechtolsheim said.Lawler said the system will be particularly useful with such workloads as data analysis and data warehousing, video surveillance and streaming, and high-performance computing environments. All three systemsavailable immediatelywere built with virtualization in mind, and to help with the heating and cooling issues that are becoming key concerns in modern data centers. The servers use an unusual new flow-throw system, in which air is forced directly through the disk drives and processors via narrow channels. The announcements come at a time of change for Sun, which saw Scott McNealy in April step down after 22 years as CEO, giving way to Schwartz. The company also is undergoing a restructuring that includes combining its two server businessesits new Opteron systems and traditional SPARC-based serversinto one unit. In addition, Sun is looking to lay off up to 5,000 people. Click here to read more about the Sun layoffs. But the changes will have no impact on Suns overall product plans or road maps, Fowler said. The company is still on track not only with its Opteron servers but also its SPARC-based Niagara and Rock systems and its Advanced Product Line, being developed jointly with Fujitsu. Sun officials say they are seeing increased demand for the companys Galaxy systems. In the first quarter of 2006, Sun said revenues for its x86 systems was about $120,000, twice that of the same period a year ago. Sun and IBM were the only vendors to better the market in lower-end, x86 server sales in the first quarter, IDC reported. However, Sun x86 server market share still ranks at around 2 percent, according to research firm Gartner, in Stamford, Conn. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.