Sun tweaks entry servers with faster CPUs

Keeping up with the neighbours

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Sun Microsystems Inc will today put faster processors in two of its most popular entry servers so it can keep pace with the competition in the low-end Unix, Wintel, and Lintel server markets that still drive the bulk of its server shipments and a large portion of its annual revenues,

Timothy Prickett Morgan writes


The Sun Fire V100 server, a uniprocessor machine that is the volume leader in the 1U form factor, rack-mounted server space, is being upgraded with 550MHz and 650MHz UltraSparc-IIi processors. The prior generation of V100 servers was upgraded in March, moving from a 400MHz UltraSparc-IIe processor to a 500MHz UltraSparc-IIe processor. The UltraSparc-IIi processors used in the V100s have twice the L2 cache (512KB) compared to the UltraSparc-IIe chips, and the 650MHz variant of the newer chip yields about 30% more performance on the infrastructure workloads that these machines typically support, according to Sun.

The entry configuration of the V100 now has 256MB of main memory standard, double the entry memory in the prior V100s; maximum memory on the box is currently 2GB. The V100 includes approximately $2,000 worth of middleware software, including the Sun ONE Web Server (formerly iPlanet) and Sun One Active Server Pages (formerly Chili!Soft's ASP) middleware for Unix servers.

The open source Apache Web server is also bundled on the machine, as is Sun's Solaris 8 operating system. A free Solaris 9 upgrade is also available for the machine for those customers who want to move to the latest version of Sun's Unix.

A base machine with a 550MHz chip, 256MB of memory, and an 80GB disk drive will sell at the same $995 list price as the prior V100 with a 500MHz chip, 128MB of memory, and a 40GB disk. Pricing for a base V100 with the 650MHz chip, 1GB of memory, and two 36GB disks is $3,995.

In addition to tweaking the V100, Sun also debuted faster UltraSparc-III processors for its two-way Sun Fire 280R rack-mounted servers, which were the first Sun servers to get that "Cheetah" processor two years ago running 750MHz. In December 2001, Sun upgraded the Sun Fire 280Rs so they could support the 900Mhz UltraSparc-III copper-based processors.

Yesterday, the 280Rs got a 1.015GHz UltraSparc-III variant, the first Sun servers to use this chip and the first of Sun's servers in the Volume Systems Products group to have a chip speed that crests above 1GHz, too. If you are thinking that this is a strange clock speed, it is. But Laura Finkelstein, group marketing manager for Sun's low-end servers, says that TI is getting much better yields on the 1.015GHz chips than it is on the 1.05GHz versions, and the Sun Fire 280R is a volume product and Sun wants to be able to move a lot of them, and in a timely fashion. Customers want to get that 17 percent performance boost as well.

A base Sun Fire 280R with a single 900MHz processor sells for $10,495; a 280R with two 1.015GHz processors, 2GB of main memory, two 36GB drives, and a DVD drive costs $19,995. All 280Rs come preconfigured with Solaris 8, Sun ONE Application Server 7, Platform Edition preconfigured. The Community Editions and Mobile Editions of the Sun ONE Studio 4 development tool will be prebundled on the 280Rs starting next quarter.

In addition to the faster processors, Sun also announced a bundle of the 280R that includes integrated PCI-based cryptographic coprocessor cards that saves customers some money and time for setting up secure Web infrastructure servers. The 280R configuration used in the crypto bundle uses 900MHz processors rather than the faster 1.015GHz processors. This 280R-crypto bundle sells for $19,195, which is $1,500 off the cost of buying the components separately. The standalone crypto card, which is known as the Sun Crypto Accelerator Board 1000, sells for $2,700.

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