Sun refreshes server blades, adds storage option

Sun's new Open Storage blade assigns up to 1.2 TB of capacity to a single Sun blade server, which now comes with the latest and greatest Intel, AMD and UltraSparc chips.

Today, Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc. introduced what it calls its first "Open Storage blade," along with refreshed versions of other blade servers that contain UltraSparc, Intel and AMD processors.

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The Sun Blade 6000 disk module, which Sun calls its first open storage blade, offers up to 1.2 TB of storage capacity per blade. The company also announced a new AMD Opteron 2300 series quad-core processor, and the Netra CP3250, a new Intel Xeon blade server.

JBOD on a blade
The new Sun Blade 6000 disk module is basically "just a bunch of disks," or JBOD, in a blade form factor, giving users a fast and easy way to add additional local storage capacity into a chassis, said Jeff Shen, Sun's product line manager for blade servers. >.

"Customers typically don't fill their chassis with blades, so there is usually room for a storage blade. It is plugged in and managed through the SAS controller, adding 1.2 TB of storage to a blade server," Shen said.

The Sun Blade 6000 disk module links to an individual blade and adds storage to this server. It offers one-third more Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) storage capacity per server blade than HP's storage blade offering, according to Sun. >.

But that could be because Sun took its time in deploying its first storage blade; two years ago, HP introduced its first storage blade, the StorageWorks SB40c, which features six 2.5-inch SAS, Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA), or SCSI disk drives for 876 GB of capacity (assuming 146 GB drives).

And in April, Verari Systems Inc. updated its storage blade offering with the high-density SB5165XL StorageServer blade, which holds up to 12 TB in a 1U platform, making it a much denser storage offering than either the new Sun Blade 6000 disk module or HP's model..

But according to Francis Lam, Sun's blade product manager, "Sun's solution is a bit more advanced and offers future expansion capabilities above and beyond the current generation of storage blades from other vendors."

"Today, we support a single disk module to be connected to an individual server module, offering 1.2 TB of SAS storage for a server blade. By 2009 a firmware release will enable up to three disk modules to be configured per server module or allow each disk module to be shared by multiple server modules," Lam said.

Analyst Gordon Haff of Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc. said that storage demands have increased but that not everyone wants to use shared storage, so storage blades offer an alternative. "Storage blades have become a fairly standard feature of blade product families -- after being a long time coming," he said.

Whereas earlier storage blades were designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that lacked a storage area network, storage blades are now designed for enterprise environments. "It's really more of an application architecture distinction whether you use shared or distributed storage," Haff said.

Lam said that while the Sun Blade 6000 Disk Module can give SMB customers scalable storage inside the blade chassis, Sun also targets larger consolidation efforts by adding local storage for applications that need it.

Sun refreshes Intel, AMD and UltrSparc blades
Sun announced three new blade servers as well, covering all the processor bases with Intel, AMD and UltraSparc based models.

The new Sun Blade T6340 server is designed for scalability, compute density and energy efficiency in a blade form factor. The T6340 is based on Sun's third-generation chip multithreaded (CMT) UltraSparc T2 Plus processor and includes Logical Domains (LDoms) and Solaris Containers virtualization technologies, making it a good platform for consolidating existing servers and for delivering Web and enterprise services, Sun reported. Also, distributed applications such as MySQL that take advantage of multithreading work well on this platform, Sun reported.

The T6340 offers up to 16 cores and 256 GB of memory, or 16 GB of memory per core, Shen said. "If you run an enterprise applications, you need at least that much," Shen said.

According to Shen, Sun's blade server is designed with more room for memory and I/O than is the competition. "HP, IBM and Dell use half-height chassis – so the real estate of their blades is about half that of our blades. They had to trade something off, like memory or disk or I/O," Shen said. "We made no compromises with our blades."

The other blade server announced by Sun, the Sun Blade X6240 server module, is designed with memory and I/O capacity to meet high-performance computing, virtualization and consolidation needs. It includes the newest AMD 2300 series quad-core Opteron processor. In the future, Sun will offer only quad-core processor based blade servers, Shen said.

According to Sun, the X6240 provides up to 64 GB of main memory using cost and 16 power-efficient 4 GB dual-inline memory modules, or DIMMs, which Sun claims is enough for customers to consolidate numerous legacy systems while still gaining additional power and cooling savings provided by the shared infrastructure of the blade server platform.

Finally, the Sun Netra CP3250 Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture (ATCA) blade server is Sun's highest -performing x64 carrier-grade blade server to date. It is also Sun's first eight-core, dual-socket Intel Xeon blade server, has 10 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) support and up to 24 GB of memory. It nearly doubles the computing resources of dual-core Information Architecture Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture (ATCA) blades in use today without increasing power and cooling requirements and still supporting 32-bit applications, Sun reported.

Sun's complete Netra ATCA blade server line will be on display in booth No. 400 at the ATCA Summit in Santa Clara, California, Oct. 21-Oct. 23, 2008.

Availability and pricing
The Sun Blade 6000 is available now, starting at $1,595 (U.S. list). The Sun Blade T6340, powered by the UltraSaprc T2 Processor, is available now at $14,955. The Sun Blade X6240 can be purchased now for $2,610 and the Sun Netra CP3250, is starting at $6,995. You can try Sun Blades System free for 60 days through Sun's Try and Buy Program. For more information on Sun's blades portfolio, visit http://www.sun.com/servers/blades.

All systems announced today are also available for a free 60-day trial via Sun's Try and Buy program.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer. And check out our data center blogs: Server Farming, Mainframe Propellerhead, and Data Center Facilities Pro

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