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Sun Fields Niagara Boxes with x86 Warning Labels

Sun and Fujitsu have unwrapped their first Solaris-based dual-socket UltraSparc T2 Plus servers described as packing the power of 5,000 systems into a single rack and delivering up to three time IBM’s Power6 performance in half the space. Oh, and let’s not forget four times higher performance per watt.

Sun claims they pave the way for the development of an “entirely new class of applications that maximize the performance of multi-core systems.” T2 Plus is an eight-core chip, remember.

The ultra-dense servers are called the T5140, a $14,995 1U, and T5240, a $17,995 2U, are targeted at web-scale applications and data center consolidation. Capable of 128 compute threads, they’re supposed to deliver 32 times the compute density of Sun’s competition.

Sun expects the systems to eat into other people’s industry standard x64 sales. (Read Dell and HP.) It doesn’t care if it cannibalizes its own; it’s all in the family. It claims five times the performance of dual-socket x64s.

As an enticement it’s offering the stuff with free open source virtualization complements of Solaris Containers and Sun Logical Domains (LDoms). The systems can handle 128 virtual servers and customers can deploy 5,120 isolated domains per rack.

It estimates it to be a savings of $5,000-$10,000 on virtualization.

Since Containers supports multiple Solaris 8 and 9 environments, or any combination of the two, Sun has effectively decoupled from the need to move to Solaris 10, giving customers more time to upgrade their applications to Solaris 10.

The T2 Plus is called a “system on a chip,” including as it does computing, security and I/O. As a result the boxes have fewer parts. Sun claims a 53% parts reduction on the 5240 over twin-socket x86 platforms and 12x compared to legacy mid-range server. With the 5140 it’s 20% and 13x respectively.

Sun is offering the widgetry on a free 60-day trial through its Try and Buy scheme. If they buy by June 30 they can claim a 45% discount.

Sun says it’s achieved a billion dollar run rate with its Niagara boxes, posting a 100% annual growth rate that it probably can’t sustain. It figures it’ll take about 18 months to get to $2 billion.

It started delivering the new boxes the second week in March.


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