Sun launches 'Galaxy' range as Sun Fire

AMD-based servers to scale up to 16 cores next year

Last week Sun formally unveiled its new x86 server line — the first the company has designed itself. Previously known as the Galaxy range, the servers have been released as the Sun Fire 2100, 4100 and 4200 and are built around dual-core AMD Opteron processors.

They are the first Sun-designed x86 machines. Previously, the company sold OEM hardware in this part of the market. The design is by Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, who returned to Sun when it acquired his company, Kealia, nearly two years ago.

Two customers with businesses across Australia and New Zealand have been beta testing the new servers and at least one of these intends to install some in this country, according to Sun.

Although Sun hasn’t named the customers, Computerworld understands that Fonterra intends to install a Sun utility computing network built on ultra-thin desktops and powerful servers. Sun and Fonterra have so far declined to confirm the deal.

All the Sun Fire servers use dual-core Opteron chips; the 2100 has one processor and the other models have two. The first digit in the model number indicates the number of cores and the second the rack unit size, explains James Eagleton, Solaris product manager for Australia and New Zealand.

Further Galaxy models are due for release next year and include up to 16-way (eight dual-core processors) configurations, Eagleton says.

The servers will run Red Hat and SUSE Linux, Windows and VMware, Sun’s own Solaris operating system.

Sun, always a minority presence in the x86 market, is placing its faith in price-points and scalability to compete with market leaders like HP, IBM and Dell. The 2100 ranges from $1,060 to $3,275; the 4100 from $3,135 to $15,470; and the 4200 from $3,705 to $16,050. This puts the Sun Fire 4100 at roughly half the price of a Dell PE 6850, Eagleton claims, with “1.5 times the performance, one-third of the power consumption and a quarter of the floor-space”.

Management software is included in the price. The machines are designed for enterprise use, Eagleton says, with components from storage to fans being N+1 redundant and hot-pluggable.

Sun has also announced a Layer 4-7 network switch, the Nauticus N1000, which will play a role in deploying large arrays of Sun Fire processors. The company will supply complete “ready to run” assemblies of multi-processor networked systems, he says.

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