Sun, Verari Expand Blade Portfolios

While Sun is offering a new system based on Intel's quad-core chips, Verari is adding to its line of dense blade-based platforms.

Sun Microsystems and Verari Systems are each preparing to expand their blade portfolios as the market for these high-density systems continues to build.

On Feb. 20, Sun announced its latest blade to use Intel's quad-core Xeon processor-the Sun Blade X8450. The four-socket system is the most recent offering that uses Intel processors after both companies announced a new joint agreement in 2007.

In addition to Sun's new blade server, Verari-a company best known for its line of high-density servers and storage products-announced Feb. 19 its new blade platform dubbed BladeRack 2 XL, which can pack up to 72 blades and 576 processor cores into a 87.5-inch enclosure.

The announcements from Sun and Verari come at a time when the blade market, while still small compared to standard rack-mount, x86 servers, continues to grow. In the third-quarter of 2007, IDC found that revenues from blades topped $1 billion for the first time. Dell added to an already competitive market in January when it announced new blade architecture for the first time in several years.

The new Sun blade will fall under the company's 8000 Modular System line, which includes both Intel-based systems as well as blades that use Advanced Micro Devices processors. The new X8450, which supports four quad-core Intel processors from the chip maker's 5400 series, offers up to 32 DIMM (dual in-line memory module) slots that each support 4GB of RAM each.

The new Sun blade also offers 160G bits per second of I/O throughput, which Mike McNerney, director of Sun's blade server product line, said makes the system suitable for high-performance computing, virtualization and other mission critical applications, such as data base software.

With these types of applications, McNerney said Sun wanted to roll out a four-socket blade that could offer the same type of computing power as a standard rack-mount server. This type of performance was lacking in the current crop of two-socket blades, he said.

"This system is a true upgrade when you look at the benefits that a four-socket blade can offer compared to one with two sockets," McNerney said. "What we have done is double the memory and the I/O and created a blade that is equivalent of what a rack-mount server offers users today."

The Sun X8450 blades officially goes on sale in March, starting at $8,905, according to the company.

While Sun is updating one of its blade servers, Verari is offering a new enclosure that can support dozens of the company's Intel- and AMD-based blades, as well as the company's own storage servers. The BladeRack 2 XL also offers up to 672TB of data capacity, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports for each blade and the company's Vertical Cooling Technology.

Verari is gearing the BladeRack 2 XL platform toward it traditional base of users in the financial community as well as those business looking to deploy Web 2.0 applications. The enclosure is available now.