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back to article Sun crams four sockets worth of Xeons into 2U box

Sun Microsystems today announced a pair of new four-core Xeon-based boxes that give customers just about the most performance and choice out of any low-end servers from a Tier 1 vendor. The fresh X4450, for example, packs four of Intel's 7300 series Xeon chips into a 2U system. All of the other major vendors require at least 4U …

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Anonymous Coward

How about 4 quad-core opterons in a 1U?

Tyan isn't a tier 1 vendor, obviously, but they've got a 1U 4x Socket-F barebones kit (which supports Barcelona) called the Transport GT24 (B4980). Granted, the 1U can only fit 16 DIMM slots, so you're limited to 64GB.

http://tyan.com/product_barebones_detail.aspx?pid=301

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Yes... but...

How hot will it run?

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Anonymous Coward

cpu density isn't all

Need enough memory to feed 16 cores, so 32 DIMM slots are great. Also, it's a lot economical to get 64GB with 2GB DIMMs than using 4GB DIMMs, so system price is much cheaper. This seems to be pretty feature rich server with plenty of everything, including cpus, memory, 8 sas disks, 6 pci-ex slots, remote management. Unlike a barebone, these servers have enough power and cooling which is already designed in so that there is no hot spots and can be easily put into a datacenter without much thermal testing. These are the promises you get when you buy from a tire-1 vendor, not just a motherboard with everything crammed in.

If density is all you need, blades are an ideal solution. You can buy 8000 P series blades from Sun where you can cram 10 4-socket blades on a 14U chassis, that's not much worse than 10U, and you do get 32 DIMM slots per blade( x8440 blades)

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Wow, what a subtle marketing message

Hey, person with the post right above this one. It's pretty obvious that you're with Sun marketing or sales. I get that you want to dovetail with Ashlee's article and pimp your product, but understand that your heavy-handed message above is really obvious - sounds like you're quoting straight from the brochure. Please don't turn the comment sections of The Reg into an infomercial...

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Anonymous Coward

Looks like you have nothing useful to add but SPAM

Well, if you are a Sun basher employed by one of Sun's competitors, you should better put some information down here instead of spamming, like features of competitive offerings and such.

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Shilling for Sun

The thing is, when you get to these many cored systems they make no sense without barrow-loads of memory, which makes them mighty expensive. The point about lots of slots meaning you can use smaller, cheaper, memory sticks is valid. These huge (OK, 2U) servers are very likely to be running some sort of virtualised environment - VMWare, Xen, Solaris Zones - and these environments tend to run out of memory before running out of CPU.

As for power/heat density, I can imagine these boxen going into one of the Black Box datatrailers, which are at least partly water cooled. Say what you like about Sun, they certainly have the creative juices flowing.

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Silver badge

I don't work for a vendor, can I join in?

Hey, I think Ashley doesn't work for Sun (well, maybe he has dreams about it) so it should be OK for me to throw in my 2 cents. The new 2u x4450 spec is quite good, but then saying it does what other vendors need 4u to do is miss-leading, it's a bit apples and oranges or lemons.

For example, the latest HP ProLiant DL580 is 4-socket and 4u, but it makes space for 16 SATA or SAS drives (twice as many), two media bays (twice again) and has 11 expansion slots (8 PCI-E, and the remaining 3 can be PCI-E or PCI-X as required, just short of twice as many). Oh, and it comes with stuff like ProLiant Essentials, iLO2, works with HP System Insight Manager, etc, etc, in other words a far superior management environment. I'm sure there's an IBM troll that can supply a convincing counter for the xSeries equivalent, same goes for FSC and even Dell.

And customers will believe it and buy more of them than Sun's new boxes because they're trusted x86 vendors, which is the real distinction between the x86 apples and oranges vendors and the Sun lemon.

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Anonymous Coward

Neither do I work for Sun, but we are talking logic here

I don't think we are talking past history here. A vendor has introduced new products and we are talking about how they compare with others. Ultimately, x86 server space is a complete commodity sector, and the market share that today's top x86 server vendors have good linkage to how long they have been selling them, in addition to technical superiority of their solutions, hardware and management solutions included. HP(and Compaq), IBM and DELL all are selling x86 servers for decades, so there are great maturity on their products, solutions, marketing and positioning. There have been 2nd tier vendors who have built as much capable servers, and startups who probably have even done better, but they have vanished over time, either gone out of business or have been bought over, so it proves the point that the marketing clout and sales expertise of the top tier x86 server vendors are of extreme importance.

But here we are commenting about the merits and demerits of a few newly introduced x86 servers. If you look at the latest x86 server market share, you would notice that Sun has steadily risen from nowhere to no 5 vendor in revenue, ahead of NEC and just barely behind FSC - and they have done that with very limited product offerings (e.g. no Intel, no general purpose blades, no windows OEM licensing) and with just the first generation of products.

Well, back to product comparison, you can claim that comparing X4450 to HP DL580 are apples to oranges comparison, but I do not think this is the case. Obviously, the HP DL580 is a much bigger box and have more IO headroom, but not all customers who are looking for a 4-socket box need all those many local drives and will never populate so many IO slots (BTW, you need to purchase an optional expansion card to populate 3 additional IO slots in the HP box). The Sun box can address a vast majority of customers who are looking for a 4-socket box and does not need so much IO could have a look at the Sun X4450 if twice the compute and memory density sounds attractive to them. BTW, each of Sun's x86 servers come with 4 ethernet ports, so you need one less PCI slot anyway.

In regards to management, can you provide any evidence why HP's ILO2 is 'far superior' compared to Sun's ILOM for remote management. If the product reviews of Sun's x86 servers are anything to go by, the ILOM is rated as a very capable solution and meeting the need for vast majority of users. In any case, I believe Sun already ships their servers with SNMP agents that fits in easily in a HP or IBM management environment. BTW, DELL is ahead of IBM in x86 server market share, why would you think they could go that far. DELL does not have so much of bells and whistles of a complete management solution as HP or IBM does, yet they are a very respectable x86 server vendor, just based on price ?

Customers make their own purchasing decisions and they have good reasons. I think the new Sun boxed do not change the competitive landscape in x86 server space, but customers surely do have a few more good servers to choose from and that is very healthy sign that competition and innovation is alive and kicking in x86 space.

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Anonymous Coward

And for virtualization....

Why do you need a 4U with massive disk space etc when for the virtualization (ie a fair chunk) server market disk is un-needed due to san storage?

Same for expansion slots etc. A bunch of CPU, RAM and NICs is all thats needed.....

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E

Sun Fire 4600

I've been playing with a SunFire 4600 box, Try'n'Buy, for the past few days. 8 x Opteron 8220, 4 gig'o'RAM per CPU. It's pretty sweet. The people I work with that I'm pitching it at have a predilection for multiprocessors with large shared memory.

I want it so that if/when AMD ships high clocked quad cores in volume I can replace the dual core 8220s with quads. Then, in Linux, at the text console:

top <return>

1 <return>

... and there will not be enough lines on the screen to show all the processor cores.

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Silver badge

Talking logic?

But surely, if the customer doesn't want all those additional PCI-e slots or onboard disks and wants density, then he'd buy denser blades anyway? Oh, I forgot, Sun doesn't like talking blades against HP or IBM (or even Dell or FSC). Could the x4450 exist because Sun can't make a 4-socket blade to fit their B6000 chassis?

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Yes, But...

... Will it play Quake?

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quad capable server in 2U space

The new HP blade server which basically has the quad way DL580 G5 installed is only 1U kinda. 8 Can be installed in a 9u space. Thats more dense!

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Anonymous Coward

Rack server and blades

Hey Matt, the discussion here is about Rack server, let's not deviate from that. Since you bring up the blade topic anyway, there are two different issues - first the blade space is limited to mostly 2-socket servers. Most blade vendors do have 4-socket blades, but from what I have heard customers mostly buy 2-socket blades. Occasionally, there would be 4-socket blades in a chassis to handle specific workloads, but you would not find many blade installations that exclusively deploy 4-socket blades. Secondly, while HP does have 4-socket blades for their C-class chassis, this still has limited memory headroom (4 DIMMs/socket, in comparison to 6 DIMM/socket for their 2-socket full-height blades).

From what I know Sun's new 6000 blade chassis is marketed at the most interesting part of the blade market, which is 2-socket blades, and they do come with full 16 DIMM sockets. For 4-socket blades, they already have 8000 chassis at 19U or 8000 P at 14U, each holding 10 4-socket blades, and their new AMD blade have full 32 DIMM sockets. BTW, when Sun announced those 8000 series blades, HP made a comment that 4-socket blades is a niche market - I tend to believe them looking at the not so great success of these blades. I think in general it would be foolish to make a generic statement that HP can and Sun can't or Sun can and HP can't. The market is commodity, and power and cooling are not rocket science. Each vendor has a different take on the market and they release products based on how they think the market needs. Obviously HP and IBM are much more prudent and mature in this market with great management solutions, and coupled with awesome sales, marketing and channel initiatives they are the winning stars in the market.

In terms of core density, since you say Sun can't, have you heard of Sun constellation blades for HPC market. Check this story:

http://www.news.com/Sun-eyes-supercomputing-glory/2100-1010_3-6193207.html

That's 768 cores in a 42U rack. Now do the math, if you put 4 10U chassis, that's 192 cores per blade chassis. With quad core cpus, that's 48 sockets per chassis, and you have 12 4-socket blades in a single 10U chassis - would you call that dense ? I didn't find how many DIMM slots each blade has, but I wouldn't be surprised if they have all 32 in each. Do a google search, and you will find a lot more about this dense blade.

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Silver badge

RE: Annonymous Sun marketing droid.

Maybe we heard a different comment, but what i heard was HP say 4-socket ONLY blades were niche, as in not having the ability to mix 2- and 4-socket blades left Sun blade customers with the choice of having to buy a different chassis (b8000) to house any 4-socket blades rather than just being able to slot them into the same chassis as the 2-socket blades (b6000). Maybe I heard a different comment, or maybe my memory is fading, but it seems obvious that there is only a niche market of opportunities where the customer will want only four-socket blades, and much more of a market of customers with mainly 2-socket blades and some 4-socket. I just did a straw poll of friends that work in the City as admins, and six out of seven have a mix of 2- and 4-socket blades (sorry, but 4-2-1 HP, IBM and FSC, no Sun blades). Not industry-wide I admit, but I expect pretty representative.

And as for HPC blades, you criticised me for bringing blades into the discussion as irrelevant, proceed to talk about nothing but blades, and then wander off into High Performance Computing? Commercial blades are relevant as that is the core of most x86 consolidation exercises (definitely the ones I have seen), and against which the x4450 will have to compete if Sun push the density feature sale. if using HPC blades such as Constellation were the answer don't you think they would already be sweeping the market? By Sun's lack of market-share I can confidently say that has not happened.

But to get back to racked servers, I already agreed the new Sun boxes are interesting bits of kit, what I objected to was the blatant marketing article appearing on The Register, a website I have long visited due to it's humour, impartiality and informative value. I see from the comments I'm not the only reader to be unamused by such an "article" appearing on The Register.

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