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Sun, Fujitsu pack 16 cores into 1U Sparc server

Sun and Fujitsu have launched smaller servers that still pack a punch with two eight-core Sparc processors, potentially offering better performance at lower cost.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc. and Fujitsu Ltd. have introduced two new servers, one of which can fit 16 Sun UltraSparc T2 processor cores into 1U of rack space.

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Between the T5140 and T5240, which the companies introduced today, the 5140 is more compact. Meanwhile, the 5240 is a 2U system that also has two eight-core UltraSparc T2 processors but also more room to expand. The Sun and Fujitsu servers are the same other than the branding.

"Overall I think these have a broader application applicability," said Rich Partridge, a VP and senior analyst at Ideas International Ltd. "I think it's got the opportunity to take a greater share of this low- to midrange market than we've seen thus far."

In particular, Partridge foresees the new servers being used more for database applications than before, where Web-facing applications were its major use. Here are some details on the two boxes:

  • The 1U T5140 has two four-, six-, or eight-core 1.2 GHz UltraSparc T2 processors; up to 64 GB of memory and four internal disk drives; starting at $15,000 and going up to $39,5000.
  • The 2U T5240 has two four-, six-, or eight-core 1.2 GHz or two eight-core 1.4 GHz T2 processors; up to 128 GB of memory and 16 internal disk drives; starting at $18,000 and maxing out at $51,000.
  • Both boxes can run Solaris or Ubuntu Linux and are shipping now.

Warren Mootrey, Sun's senior director of volume Sparc systems, said that customers could get as much as a 45% discount on the servers, decreasing the 5140's starting price to about $8,500. The two boxes will qualify under Sun's try-and-buy program.

Sun's UltraSparc chip has eight cores and 64 computing threads, which exceeds the number of threads in the dual-core Intel Itanium and IBM Power processors. But with that greater number comes the question of whether applications can take advantage of all those parallel computing threads.

"Sun is pushing the envelope here," Partridge said. "Where other vendors are happy with four cores and eight threads, Sun is taking that and pushing it a little further. They're out there on the forefront, and that's what they like to do. They like to be trailblazers."

That's why Partridge believes Sun boxes are still best suited for Web-facing rather than legacy applications.

"If you had something constrained on a single thread, it could not take advantage of parallelism," he said. "It won't run as well as an IBM running at 5 GHz. I wouldn't try to put COBOL on this, but applications that have been written fairly recently that recognize that you can serve multiple customers would work. Sun is looking at the Web tier and the applications that are serving it, and that's a growing market and they want to target it."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. You can also check out our Server Specs blog.

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