Sun shows 2U 16-core Barcelona server with FSB1600

Sun shows 2U 16-core Barcelona server with FSB1600

Summary: After last week's launch of Sun's 2U 16-core Intel Tigerton server last week, Sun followed up with an AMD Barcelona version last night at AMD's Barcelona launch.  Sun kept the same compact 2U footprint while keeping all the features.

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After last week's launch of Sun's 2U 16-core Intel Tigerton server last week, Sun followed up with an AMD Barcelona version last night at AMD's Barcelona launch.  Sun kept the same compact 2U footprint while keeping all the features.  So far, no other Server vendor has attempted to squeeze this many goodies in to a 2U chassis.  Sun's CEO Jonathan Swartz talks about Sun's entrance in to the x86 world two years ago and the success they've had.  Swartz announced the intention to take over 4th place in the x86 Server Market and these new 2U four-socket servers appear to be Sun's strategy to differentiate itself.

The new Barcelona four-socket server comes with dual TCP offloading enabled gigabit NIC cards, redundant power supplies, and 32 DIMM slots for up to 256 GBs of memory capacity (128 GB is more realistic now since 8 GB DIMMs are priced out of this world for now).  In the image above, the hand is holding a tray with two Opteron quad-core servers and 16 DDR2 DIMMs.  Below that tray are two more quad-core CPUs and 16 more DDR2 DIMMs.  Half the memory and CPU are stacked on top of the other half and this is a rather unusual but innovative design.

What's notable about this system is that it's capable of running DDR2-667 or DDR2-800 though the 800MHz DDR2 DIMMs and the higher clocked Barcelona processors haven't launched yet.  Due to the limitations of DDR2 memory, only the first half can be populated if maximum memory clock speeds are required.  Once we go past 4 DDR2 DIMMs, the memory clock speed will drop down one notch.  DDR2-667 memory will drop down to DDR2-533 and DDR2-800 memory will drop to DDR2-667.

Sitting in front the CPU and memory bank are two rows of redundant cooling fans which are hot-serviceable.  You get an optical drive in the front along with 8 hot-swap SAS 2.5? hard drives that can be configured for up to RAID Level 6 though you’ll most likely want to configure it for four independent mirrored sets of RAID Level 1.  Having all that redundant storage at your disposal means you can safely store the hard drive images for the 128 virtual guest machines you’ll be hosting on this virtualization monster.  This could possibly be one of the fastest HPC servers in its class with DDR2-800 memory since AMD's processor architecture dominates on memory bandwidth.

For those who prefer a blade server, Sun also showed off a blade version of this server.

The new AMD Barcelona processors have a new feature called "Rapid Virtualization Indexing" (nested paging) which improves Virtualization performance.  AMD announced a 79% improvement on VMware's benchmark (beta version that supports nested paging) on the new Barcelona 2.0 GHz processor over existing Opteron dual-core 3.0 GHz processors.  However, it's difficult to compare this to Intel since Intel claims a 167% improvement on the vConsolidate virtualization benchmark with Tigerton over previous generation Intel Tulsa four-socket servers.  The benchmarks are different and the baselines are different and there's no way to tell which platform runs better until we can compare apples to apples.  Both these benchmarks have been submitted to SPEC.org but it is very confusing at this time.  I'll try to clear some of these questions up at VMworld tomorrow and in the coming weeks.

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Intel, Oracle, Servers, Virtualization

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8 comments
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  • While I applaud Sun for the form factor

    I have to admit that I think IBM has the advantage on pure performance. DDR2 should push the limits of their server to be quite a bit faster if space isn't the object.

    Not only that, but being able to tie 4 Tigerton servers together does have its advantages.

    Still. If you are short on rack space and want some uber performance out of such a small space, Sun is probably the way to go.

    If you need a hard core application performance that threads across numerous processors, IBM has your solution.

    Once again, this is about what the customer wants, even if the customer doesn't always have a clue.

    Once again, I do applaud Sun for being innovative in their design. I hope their Barcelona shows up Intel by sticking to DDR style memory and staying away from FB-DIMMs.
    nucrash
    • IBM probably has a few percent on performance and some power saving if you

      IBM probably has a few percent on performance and some power saving if you can afford the price of admission. IBM?s X4 chipset solution has double the fault tolerance of kill chip and it?s scalable to 16 sockets. However, I haven?t seen actual performance numbers on 8 and 16 socket configuration and I haven?t seen the actual pricing. I also haven?t seen pricing on Sun yet so all that remains to be seen.
      georgeou
  • RE: Sun shows 2U 16-core Barcelona server with FSB1600

    I like this "baby": http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=42293
    Burana
    • Drooling

      I wonder how it will fold proteins?
      nucrash
      • Forget that noise....

        It'll make one helluva BF2142 Server! =)
        startx.jeff
        • You would need that kind of power for them

          Only EA can design a game that requires more horsepower and crap-ware to play. Oh and sometimes when you buy a legitimate copy, you still spend hours trying to get it installed to work.

          Sorry about the rant, but I consider EA the crappiest game development studio, yet they still develop the most games.

          As of late, I have heard that they have been improving.
          nucrash
  • RE: Sun shows 2U 16-core Barcelona server with FSB1600

    Did anyone ask Sun about when it will be available? Immediately?
    SemiconEng
    • Some time in November for both Intel and AMD versions

      Some time in November for both Intel Tigerton and AMD Barcelona versions
      georgeou