Sun Microsystems Sept. 25 introduced its first two Intel Quad-Core Xeon-powered servers, including a compact, four-socket x64 (x86, 64-bit) unit that the company claims has twice the scalability and compute power as competitive servers despite being only half the size.
The new servers are the first products resulting from the agreement struck by Sun and Intel back in January 2007. Sun had previously used processors only from Advanced Micro Devices and LSILogic and from its own SPARC and Niagara stocks.
The new Sun Fire X4450 and Sun Fire X4150 servers—which can run on Windows, Suns own open-source Solaris operating system, and Red Hat and SUSE Linux—offer more performance and better power efficiency and system management than competitive systems from IBM and Hewlett-Packard, Sun Product Manager Rebecca Tong told eWEEK.
"The X4450 server [which uses Xeon 7300 series chips] is the first and only four-socket, 2U quad-core system on the market from a tier-one vendor," Tong said. "IBM and HP have nothing like this.
"It is the best four-socket x64 server in terms of performance, density and power efficiency. In addition, it offers memory scalability from 2GB up to 128GB and as much as 50 percent lower energy consumption than competitive servers, resulting in lower energy and cooling costs," Tong said.
The Sun Fire X4150 server, which uses Xeon 5300 series processors, is a two-socket, 1U system with up to twice the memory capacity, internal storage and networking connectivity as competitive two-socket, 1U servers, Tong said.
Click here to read more about Sun and Intel patching up a long-standing estrangement.
Sun has recorded seven straight quarters of growth in x86 server revenue, and in August the Santa Clara, Calif., company broke into the top five in x86 server revenue with 50.9 percent revenue growth, according to IDCs Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker Q2 2007 (August 2007).
Heeral Joshipura of Gartner Group, in Stamford, Conn., told eWEEK that as the adoption for quad-core becomes wider in the market, Sun has made a good decision on the timing of announcing these new systems.
"In the second half of 2006 and continuing into 2007, there has been a significant shift from 2P to 4P systems," Joshipura said. "What customers will be looking for is a reduction in total cost of ownership, including efficient power and cooling, and higher performance."
According to Sun, Joshipura said, both systems have enhanced virtualization advantages that will benefit data centers, which is a growing priority for customers.
How will these new servers boost Sun in its ongoing wars with IBM and HP?
"While this will help Sun gain better market share in the x86 market in general, Sun is still far from reaching HP or IBM," Joshipura said.
"In 2Q07, HP had around 18 percent of the x86 market. However, the outlook for Suns x86 business is positive. Sun is trying to achieve technology differentiation with its x86 products in areas such as memory scalability, storage density and CPU scalability. The challenge for Sun is to deliver marketing and channel initiatives to match the technology capabilities," Joshipura said.
Read more here about Suns effort to move the Solaris OS to the Intel architecture.
"The 2U four-socket design is the one that stands out," Gordon Haff of Illuminata, in Nashua, N.H., told eWEEK. "Thats impressive processor and memory density in a rack-mount server.
"In the x86 server space, you dont, for the most part, see single announcements that dramatically change a vendors position," Haff said. "Thats the case here as well. I dont see these new servers as altering the competitive landscape or anything so fundamental. But they further affirm that Sun is serious about x86 servers and is backing up its strategy with some solid hardware."
The Sun Fire X4150 server is available now, with entry-level pricing starting at $2,995. The Sun Fire X4450 is available in October, with entry-level pricing starting at $8,895.
For more information on the Sun and Intel alliance, go here.
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