Sun announces ‘StarKitty’

Half a StarCat

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Sun Microsystems Inc rolled out its expected "StarKitty" Sun Fire 12000 younger brother of its high-end "StarCat" Sun Fire 15000 server yesterday in San Francisco without the usual stage show and fanfare that we are used to from the Unix server vendors,

Timothy Prickett Morgan

writes.

It's a sign of the times and good sense on Sun's part, with companies everywhere tightening their belts, that Sun is saving its money for customer roadshows, where it can hope to actually sell its high-end UltraSparc-III servers.

The Sun Fire 12000 server is essentially half of a StarCat server with some modifications and a much lower entry price tag. The core chassis in the StarKitty supports 36-way symmetric multiprocessing using the same four-way 900MHz UltraSparc-III+ system boards that are used in the top-end StarCat server. The StarKitty supports nine of these boards, while the StarCat supports 18, yielding 72-way SMP. In addition to this, both the StarKitty and StarCat servers support two-way MaxCPU auxiliary processing boards, which made their debut in the StarCats last September.

The MaxCPU boards plug into I/O slots and offer stateless, memory-less processing capabilities that augment the processors in the SMP cluster. The StarKitty can support eight of these MaxCPU boards - yielding a theoretical 52-way SMP configuration - while the StarCat supports 17 of these boards - yielding 106-way SMP. The StarKitty server is based on the same 150MHz Sun Fireplane triple crossbar interconnect as the StarCat, and boards used in the StarKitty can be moved into the StarCat chassis.

The StarKitty supports 32GB of main memory per four-way, for a total of 288GB per machine, and has 36 PCI slots. The aggregate system bandwidth on the box is 86.4GBps, with a peak memory bandwidth of 57.6GBps and a sustained bandwidth of 21.6GBps. The machine has an overall I/O bandwidth of 10.8GBps. It can support direct attachment of over 120TB of disk capacity using Fibre Channel arrays.

Because the StarKitty supports nine I/O interfaces and nine UltraSparc-III Uniboards (Sun's name for the core motherboards that are not MaxCPU auxiliary processors), the machine is capable of supporting nine distinct dynamic domains. The StarKitty is field upgradeable to the StarCat.

Sun has said that the pricing for the StarKitty starts at $500,000; this is presumably an eight CPU, 8GB base machine. Sun's standard configuration with 16 processors and 32Gb of memory with four 72GB internal disks costs just over $1m. Sun says that it can ship it to customers within 16 days. A 24-way StarCat, which Sun calls a small configuration, costs $1.8m. A 24-way Sun Fire 6800 costs in the neighborhood of $1m.

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