By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2006-01-02 Print this article Print

eWEEK Labs tests of one of Sun Microsystems Inc.s first "Niagara"-based servers show that the platform pushes the limits of server processing power.

Armed with Suns latest SPARC processor, the Sun Fire T2000 server provides exceptional performance while lowering power consumption and improving server density. Our tests show the midrange server, equipped with the new eight-core UltraSPARC T1 processor, is capable of providing excellent threaded performance for Web and application server workloads.

The 2U (3.5-inch) Sun Fire T2000, which started shipping in December, starts at $7,795 with 8GB of memory and two 73GB hard drives. The CPU is available in 1GHz and 1.2GHz versions, with four, six or eight cores.

While hardware with as much processing power as the Sun Fire T2000 would normally have a large footprint, this server packs higher processing power and plenty of networking and storage options in a relatively small chassis. This is possible because the Sun Fire T2000 is the first server to be outfitted with the UltraSPARC T1 processor—something that really makes the server, and Sun, stand out from the competition.

Sun was able to get as many as eight cores—each capable of processing four concurrent instruction threads for a total of 32 simultaneous threads—onto the chip, which was formerly code-named Niagara. This is important because competitors such as Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. are not expected to release eight-core processors until 2008. Both chip manufacturers recently announced plans to move to quad-core processors in 2007.

The architecture of the UltraSPARC T1 is also unique in that it is designed to offer greater performance than current single- or dual-core processors while keeping energy consumption and heat generation low—a capability Sun refers to as its CoolThreads multithreading technology. With CoolThreads technology, the UltraSPARC T1 has a power envelope of about 70 watts, meaning it consumes less power than a standard light bulb. A comparable Intel Xeon CPU runs at more than 100 watts.

Next Page: Lets get small.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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