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Sun Microsystems releases disk-heavy, Intel-based servers

Sun Microsystems' new Intel Xeon-based servers support Solaris, Linux and Windows, and Sun says the new Sun Fire X4250 has the highest disk count of any comparable server.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc. has released its seventh and eighth Intel-based servers since the company began offering Intel Corp processors in January 2007. Sun says that the new 2U Sun Fire server has the highest disk count of any comparable server in the market.

For more on Sun and Intel:
First Intel-based Sun Fire servers come in small package

Sun's first Intel server will be a blade

Sun x86 servers to include Intel chips

Powered by one or two dual- or quad-core Intel Xeon processors from the 5200 or 5400 series, the new 1U Sun Fire X2250 and 2U Sun Fire X4250 x64 servers support  Solaris 10, Linux and Windows operating systems. Sun offers similar models with processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Sun says that its Sun Fire X2250 1U server uses the fastest versions of Intel Xeon 5400 series low-power 50-watt processors (with a 1,600 MHz front-side bus) and the fastest version of memory (with a 800 MHz fully buffered dual-inline memory module) that can serve the high-volume and real-time computing needs of industries like financial services and oil and gas.

Sun Fire targets workload- and storage-intensive computing
The X2250 achieved record-breaking integer, floating-point and integer throughput scores on the industry-standard SPEC CPU2006 benchmark, which measures the performance of the processor, memory and compiler on the tested system.

The new 2U Sun Fire X4250 server is more storage-intensive and has the highest disk count of any comparable server in the market, according to Sun. It has16 SAS disk drives, up to 16 memory slots for up to 64 GB of fully buffered double-data rate (DDR2) memory. It also supports six PCI Express slots, compared with three or four PCI Express slots supported on competitive servers by Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

The X4250 is ideal for customers that need to store large amounts of data and customers running applications that require lots of storage, like Web 2.0 companies that offer data-intensive services and products, said Brian Huynh, the product manager at Sun's systems group.

Other vendors have created storage-intensive servers for the Web 2.0 space as well. In April, for example, IBM, introduced a new category of low-energy, storage-packed Intel-based systems for Web 2.0 companies called iDataPlex.

Jim Burton, the vice president and senior analyst at Rye Brook, N.Y.-based  Ideas International Inc., said that Sun's new servers maintain their reputation of solid engineering and performance.

"Sun doesn't enter the market with me-too products, like Dell," Burton said. "Their hardware is engineered well; they test [components] fully and deliver good, valuable equipment to customers. The x4250 supports 16 [SAS disk drives] which differentiates them, along with a nice RAID controller, and impressive I/O with six PCI express slots."

Burton said Sun's Intel-based server momentum has helped the company add customers they would not otherwise have been able to reach.

"The performance of AMD and Intel leap frogs back and forth. Currently, Intel has a slight lead over AMD, so offering Intel-based servers has been a wise move for Sun," Burton said. "Intel-based [Sun Fire servers] are seeing a performance advantage over AMD servers, and a lot of it is coming from the 64 GB of memory supported, which is 30% more than [AMD] supports."

In January 2007, Sun first announced it would offer a line of servers using processors from Intel in exchange for Intel's support and endorsement of Sun's Solaris operating system. Prior to that, Sun had sold systems with chips exclusively from AMD, saying its Opteron chips had better performance per watt.

"Sun is doing Intel systems because some customers are fixated on Intel, and we couldn't open up those accounts offering only AMD as we did before," said Huynh.

In addition to Intel-based servers, Sun plans to offer Intel-based threading tools, compilers and power management features in the near future, Huynh said. Other vendors like HP already support Intel-based threading tools, compilers and power management features.

The Sun Fire X2250 and X4250 now ship with entry-level pricing starting at $1,495 and $3,195, respectively. These servers are also available through Sun's try-and-by program.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

Also, check out our Server Farming blog.

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