Sun's galactic server makeover

Summary:Stephen Shankland has the scoop on Sun's new Galaxy family of Opteron servers, which will be introduced on Monday morning. Sun is claiming that these x86 servers will be the fastest, most energy-efficient and reliable systems.

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Stephen Shankland has the scoop on Sun's new Galaxy family of Opteron servers, which will be introduced on Monday morning. Sun is claiming that these x86 servers will be the fastest, most energy-efficient and reliable systems.  Sun is also touting a 'next-generation' rack mount chassis. Analysts give Sun a few kudos for its improved x86 offerings, and competitors predictably are saying that it will be tough for Sun to differentiate itself and gain much traction. Without more focus on Linux and Windows (Sun is staunchly behind OpenSolaris), it will be difficult for Sun to grow rapidly in the rankings. Sun doesn't expect to topple the volume leaders like Dell and HP any time soon. Currently in sixth place in x86 server revenue, according to Gartner, Sun hopes to get into fourth place by the end of 2006, passing NEC and Fujitsu-Siemens.

Legendary computer designer Andy Bechtolsheim, a Sun co-founder who left the company in1995 and then recently returned, led the development of the Galaxy servers (one of the new systems at left, a Sun Fire X4100). In an News.com interview, Shankland asks Bechtolsheim how Sun's Opeteron servers stand out from the rest of the crowd. He said that Sun worked with AMD on a higher performance version of the dual-core Opteron, which makes Galaxy systems faster than competitors, at least for now.  "...with this higher power chip that we have in both the Galaxy boxes, and that we'll support in all our future boxes, we can bridge the performance gap between dual-core and single-core to the point where we now have truly the world's highest throughput 1U and 2U enterprise boxes," Bechtolsheim said.

Graham Lovell, senior director of x64 servers at Sun, told me that the performance gain on the tweaked Opteron is about 11 percent. Versus a four-way Dell PowerEdge, an equivalently configured dual-core Galaxy will deliver 1.5 times the performance at half the price, one-third the power consumption and a quarter of the size, Lovell said. If that's true, Sun has a price/value proposition to crow about in the marketplace...which is far more attractive to customers than just being faster.  Let the independent testing begin...

More on Sun's quarterly product announcments tomorrow... 

Topics: Oracle

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