Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu are rolling out a jointly developed midrange system, the SPARC Enterprise T5440 server, which is based on Sun’s UltraSPARC T2 plus processor and is designed to run database and CRM applications.
With the new T5440 system, Sun and Fujitsu are looking to bring a midrange offering into the midmarket and enterprise market to compete against Unix systems from IBM and Hewlett-Packard. On Oct. 7, IBM rolled out several new Power Systems that use the company’s own Power Architecture, including the Power 560 Express, which is expected to compete against the T5440.
While Sun and Fujitsu have developed a number of low-end systems that use the UltraSPARC chip, the T5440 is an attempt to penetrate the higher end of the market. While the low-end systems were considered better for Web applications, Nancy Riley, a marketing manager for Sun, said this new system can handle database, CRM and ERP applications.
Although Sun and Fujitsu jointly develop systems based on the UltraSPARC or more traditional SPARC chips, the two companies do compete for the same customers. The only difference between Sun and Fujitsu when it comes to the T5400 is a different company name on the box.
The T5440 is a 4U (7-inch) system that can support either two or four of the UltraSPARC T2 plus processors. Unlike the IBM Power6 processor, which has a top clock speed of 5.0GHz, the clock speeds of the UltraSPARC T2 Plus chips are a modest 1.2GHz and 1.4GHz. However, Sun focused on what it calls CMT or chip multithreading technology, meaning that each processor includes a total of 64 instructional threads-eight threads per core-so instead of cranking the clock speed to improve performance, the T2 chips allow multithreaded applications to run in parallel.
“We feel that with this server we are taking CMT into the midrange,” Riley said. “Whereas … previous products … were seen as systems that had been seen for Web-tier and network-facing applications, we feel like with this type of compute power we are able to hit some more of those enterprise-class applications, whether it’s CRM or ERP, databases and other transaction applications.”
In addition the T2 processor, the T5440 system will support up to 512GB of main memory along with four SAS (serial-attached SCSI) that can support up to 146GB of data storage. The system also runs Sun’s Solaris 10 operating system as well as Sun Containers and Logical Domains for virtualization, which will allow a user to create 128 different virtual environments in one system.
Opportunity in a Down Market
With the problems that are facing a lot of large, Wall Street firms at this time, it might seem like a bad time to offer a server system that is geared toward the enterprise side of the market. There have already been reports that the financial crisis and credit crunch in the United States might force financial companies, which are key Sun and Fujitsu customers, to cut back on IT spending.
“The business still has to go on,” said Tom Donnelly, a product manger for Fujitsu. “These financial institutions still need to consolidate, they still need to virtualize, they still need to upgrade and update their equipment. So, even though there is a credit crunch, business still needs to go on … I also think you’ll see other companies trying to consolidate and focus on power savings and try to reduce the overhead that they need to run their business.”
The Sun and Fujitsu SPARC Enterprise T5440 server will ship in volume on Oct. 13. A two-socket system will start at $44,995.