Sun Microsystems Inc. today boosted the performance of its mid- to high-range servers with the integration of its fastest 64-bit processor yet, a 1.05GHz UltraSparc III.
The 64-bit chip, which delivers about 15 percent more performance than its 900MHz predecessor, is now available in the companys mid- to high-end servers, including the eight-way Sun Fire 3800, the 12-way 4800 and the 24-way 6800, the 52-way Sun Fire 12K and the top-of-the-line 15K, which comes in a 72-CPU enterprise configuration or a 106-CPU scientific-computing set-up.
Prices for the servers vary from just under $100,000 to well over $1 million for a fully loaded 15K.
Existing Sun customers also can tap the power of the new 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, currently used in servers from the 3800 up to the 15K, are designed to be 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.
As a result, a customer currently using a Sun Fire 3800 equipped with four 900MHz chips can upgrade the system by adding a second uniboard featuring the newest 1.05GHz processor.
Uniboards are also interchangeable among Suns servers, giving customers greater flexibility to adjust individual systems to meet varying business demands.
The uniboard technology, with its new 1.05GHz processors, is well-suited to meeting the increasing demands of todays corporate customers, a Sun representative said.
“Enterprises continue to run mission-critical, high-performance computing environments that need to be up and running 24×7. At the same time, IT managers running these data centers need to keep their costs down and make the most of their current investments,” said Clark Masters, executive vice president and general manager of Enterprise Systems Products at Sun, based in Santa Clara, Calif. “We deliver new features and functionalities today, like support for mixed-speed CPUs on a single system, to help maximize system resources in ways that our customers not only save costs but also increase their return on investment.”
: Sun Integrates 64-Bit Chip into Servers”>
Touting initial system costs and customer return on investments has taken on a prominent role in marketing of high-end systems in the past two years in response to a dramatic decline in IT spending tied to a weak U.S. economy.
Sun, the worldwide market leader in sales of 64-bit systems, has seen its market share decline over the past year partly because of aggressive price competition from rival IBM, which has consistently touted its recently upgraded servers featuring its new Power 4 processors as offering more bang for the buck.
More recently, Sun has come under fire from Intel Corp., which claims its newly released 1GHz Itanium 2 processor, featured in servers by various manufacturers, outperforms the much more costly Sun system configurations.
To counter those attacks, Sun is touting the flexibility of its uniboard technology, unique among computer makers, as well as benchmarks highlighting the edge some of its products still hold over competitors.
For example, in announcing the release of its 1.05GHz chips on Tuesday, Sun noted that a Sun Fire 15K equipped with the chips delivers nearly twice the performance of IBMs top-of-the-line 32-CPU p690 in the SPECjbb2000 benchmark, used to measure performance in handling Java-based applications.
The 15K with the new chips also delivers to top performance on the TPC-H benchmark, a test designed to measure decision support systems that examine large volumes of data, execute queries with a high degree of complexity, and give answers to critical business questions.
For the last four years, Sun has held the top spot among 64-bit system vendors, followed by Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM. But Suns market lead has eroded recently, partly because IBM upgraded its product line and successfully marketed its efforts, and also as a result of HPs acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp., which included the computer makers highly-regarded 64-bit NonStop Himalaya servers as well as its 64-bit AlphaServers.