Sun Microsystems Adds Intel Processors to Carrier Telecom Server Line

Sun Microsystems is adding Intel Xeon processors to its line of carrier-grade Sun Netra server systems. In addition, Sun will also expand its Netra server line with new systems that use its UltraSPARC T2 Plus processors. These Sun servers are specifically designed for the telecommunications industry and offer specifications designed for more rugged environments.

Sun Microsystems is updating its line of carrier-grade Netra server systems to include its own UltraSPARC T2 Plus chips as well as two new systems based on Intel Xeon processors.

Since signing an agreement with Intel in 2007, Sun has looked to bolster its x64 (x86-64 bit) line of servers with Intel's Xeon processors. For years, Sun only used Advanced Micro Devices chips to complement its line of hardware based around the SPARC and UltraSPARC processors.

The new Intel-based Sun Netra X4250 and Netra X4450 servers, along with the Netra T5440, which is based on the UltraSPARC T2 Plus processor, officially go on sale Sept. 29. However, the configurations for all three of these carrier systems are already available on Sun's Web site.

The telecommunications industry remains an integral part of Sun's business. In a recent quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Sun reported that while its high-end systems were not selling as well as in the past, it was trying to make up ground by shipping more midrange and volume servers, including its carrier-grade Netra line.

Sun is also hoping that telecom carriers continue expanding their cellular and broadband networks in North America and overseas. With more users eager for cell and Internet services, telecoms are looking to strengthen their infrastructures to deliver reliable services and meet demand. In addition, Sun is hoping that when WiMax and 3G become more broadly available, these new broadband services will increase the demands on telecom data centers.

By incorporating Intel processors into the Netra line, Sun is also looking to expand the base of customers that might not consider the company's hardware without some systems based on Intel. Sun also ensured that the Intel- and UltraSPARC-based systems share the same chassis to so that the systems are compatible.

"The fact that two of these systems are Intel-based gives me [a] new addressable market for carrier-grade servers," said Mark Butler, the product line director for Sun's Netra systems. "In addition, the X4450 and the T5440 share the same chassis, which means they share high capacity when it comes to I/O cards and disk storage ... We think this is good for our installed-based customers who need to move their high-end carrier-grade systems over. We also think this is good for the new applications that are out there and new customers that we are selling to."

All three of the Sun Netra systems use either DC or AC power. While the two Intel systems can suppport Sun's Solaris operating system or Microsoft Windows and Linux, the UltraSPARC server only supports the Solaris OS. In addition, all three systems are NEBS 3 (Network Equipment-Building System 3)-compliant, which is important for servers that often are housed in more hostile environments than those found in enterprise data centers. All three also support 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

The three new Netra systems are:

-The Netra X4250, a 2U (3.5-inch) system that supports two quad-core Intel Xeon L5408 processors (2.13GHz). The server also features 4 DIMM (dual in-line memory modules) slots and up to 16GB of memory and four SAS (serial-attached SCSI) drives that each support 146GB of data storage. This system starts at $4,295.

-The Netra X4450, a 4U (7-inch) server that supports four quad-core Intel Xeon E7338 (2.4GHz) processors. The system has 8 DIMM slots that can support up to 32GB of memory along with 8 SAS drives that each support up to 146GB of storage. The starting price is set at $14,995.

-The Netra T5540, a 4U system that supports two of Sun's UltraSPARC T2 Plus processors (1.2GHz). In addition, it support 16 DIMM slots and up to 64GB of memory along with 8 SAS drives that each support 146GB of storage. The starting price for this system is $19,635.

The Sun Netra T5540 will eventually replace the older Netra 240 and 440 servers that used the UltraSPARC IIIi processor.

Editor's note: This article was updated to clarify which operating systems the three servers support. Only the Intel-based systems support Linux, Windows and Solaris.