Sun releases AMD Opteron-based servers

Sun Microsystems has announced that it is releasing eight new servers powered by AMD's much delayed quad-core Opteron chip.

AMD's Opteron processor was initially launched last September, but errata problems meant that broad availability was delayed until April this year.

Sun says that the new Sun Fire and Sun Blade systems offer increased performance and scalability.

"Delivering world-class levels of performance, scalability, and virtualization functionality to the enterprise, Sun Fire systems powered by Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors will help speed the industry to greater adoption of quad-core x64 computing," said Randy Allen, senior vice president of AMD's Computing Solutions Group.

"Our long-standing relationship with Sun, combined with the engineering expertise of both companies, enables us to provide industry-leading native quad-core x64 solutions to customers."

Three of the systems are entirely new - the Sun Fire X4140, X4240 and X4440 - while five others have been upgraded to quad-core Opterons, these being the Sun Fire X2200 M2, Sun Fire X4100 M2, Sun Fire X4200 M2, Sun Fire X4600 M2 and Sun Blade X8440 servers.

Sun is looking for differentiate its new and refreshed servers on four counts: storage, density, memory capacity and performance.

For storage, the Sun Fire X4140 and Sun Fire X4240 can hold eight and 16 disk drives respectively, making them suitable for uses that require high I/O throughput.

In terms of density, Sun claimed that the Sun Fire X4440 and Sun Fire X4600 M2 servers both offer comparable memory capacity as competing systems, but in half the space. The company said that the Sun Fire X4440 server is the industry's only 4-socket x64 AMD Opteron server in a 2U form factor.

Meanwhile, for overall memory capacity Sun claims the Sun Fire X4600 M2 and Sun Blade X8440 servers offer the highest in the industry.

Finally, Sun claimed that the Sun Fire X4440 server has taken the lead for AMD Opteron-based system running server-side Java applications.

"Sun's new x64 systems with quad-core AMD Opteron processors offer customers increased performance, scalability and energy efficiency, and ultimately more value than similar servers on the market," said Lisa Sieker, vice president of marketing, Systems Group, Sun Microsystems. "In addition to more memory, compute density and disk drives than the competition, our server innovations also enable customers to fully realize the benefits of virtualization and energy efficiency."

Douglas Myhill, business consultant for Morse Group said that Sun offering the latest x64 quad-core technology was of benefit to its customers. "x86 gives customers more choice and enables companies to look at HP, ISB, Dell and Sun in the same breathe".

Myhill also emphasised that the new systems offered companies tangible benefits in terms of server consolidation and energy efficiency, citing an example from one company where moving from older Sun boxes to the latest systems freed up 20 racks of space and saved 450 tonnes of CO2. However, for the IT manager the green element is just a welcome side effect.

"IT folk are less bothered by the green aspect but are more concerned by performance and space saving. Normally IT mangers don't have power in their budget as the electricity costs are picked up by someone else."

Benny Har-Even

Benny Har-Even is a twenty-year stalwart of technology journalism who is passionate about all areas of the industry, but telecoms and mobile and home entertainment are among his chief interests. He has written for many of the leading tech publications in the UK, such as PC Pro and Wired, and previously held the position of technology editor at ITPro before regularly contributing as a freelancer.

Known affectionately as a ‘geek’ to his friends, his passion has seen him land opportunities to speak about technology on BBC television broadcasts, as well as a number of speaking engagements at industry events.