Sun Microsystems Inc. last week boosted the performance of its midrange to high-end servers with the integration of its fastest 64-bit processor yet, a 1.05GHz UltraSPARC III.
The move came as Hewlett-Packard Co. upgraded its two Unix lines—its two midrange RISC-based servers and the AlphaServer line acquired from Compaq Computer Corp.
Suns 64-bit chip, which delivers about 15 percent more performance than its 900MHz predecessor, is now available in the companys midrange to high-end servers, including the following Sun Fire models: the eight-way 3800, 12-way 4800, 24-way 6800, 52-way 12K and the top-of-the-line 15K, which comes in a 72-CPU enterprise configuration or a 106-CPU scientific computing setup. Prices for the servers from Sun, of Palo Alto, Calif., vary from just under $100,000 to well over $1 million for a fully loaded 15K.
Current Sun customers can tap the power of the 1.05GHz chip while still leveraging their investment in older chips by taking advantage of the mixed-CPU support thats a key feature of its "uniboard" technology.
Uniboards are essentially individual modules in the server that house up to four processors each, along with accompanying memory and memory controllers. Uniboards, used in servers from the 3800 up to the 15K, are hot-swappable, meaning users can add or remove the modules without taking the server down. In addition, separate uniboards can be populated with chips running at different speeds.
A customer using a Sun Fire 3800 equipped with four 900MHz chips can upgrade the system by adding a second uniboard featuring the 1.05GHz processor. Uniboards are interchangeable among Suns servers, giving users greater flexibility to adjust individual systems, and ease the burden for companies that stock replacement parts.
"If you need to stock spare parts on-site, using uniboard-based systems greatly enhances the chances youll have the right component on hand to make quick repairs, since the same part is used by several Sun servers," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight 64, in Saratoga, Calif. "In addition, it also improves the economics for stocking parts, giving Sun another advantage over offerings from competitors."
HP, also in Palo Alto, is putting the PA-RISC 8700+ 875MHz chip—rolled out for the companys high-end Superdome servers—into its entry-level and midrange servers with four, eight and 16 processors. HP also released a two-processor AlphaServer DS25 system with 1GHz chips and a four-processor AlphaServer SC45 system with 1.25GHz chips. The AlphaServer GS80, GS160 and GS320 systems will ramp up from 1GHz to 1.224GHz, the company said. HP eventually will phase out both PA-RISC and Alpha processors and migrate its 64-bit systems to Intel Corp.s Itanium, which the company co-developed.