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Sun goes storage mad with upcoming Opteron kit

I/O thumper

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Exclusive Sun Microsystems next year will expand its Opteron-based hardware line with a unique system that packs moderate processing power with high-performing I/O and tons of storage, The Register has learned.

A system code-named Thumper should ship in the first half of 2006. The 4U high system will hold two dual-core Opterons and support up to 16GB of memory. A more unique part of the server will be Sun's use of 48 SATA drives. In addition, Thumper will have room for four Gigabit Ethernet ports and make use of all four Hypertransport I/O links that are unique to Opteron, according to information obtained by The Register.

Thumper has been in the works for a long time. We first brought word of it in October of 2004. In actual fact, however, the system's design originally took place well before that at Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim's start-up Kealia. Sun had samples of the system available throughout 2005.

Sun will likely pitch the system as a type of media server that could be used to stream content or to hold large amounts of data such as video files, medical images or document archives. Thumper will also work as part of Sun's Streamstar video server offering. Based on the applications, you can tell that Sun is enamored with Thumper's I/O performance. We've heard throughput figures of close to 2.3GB/s.

Key to Thumper is the ZFS software found in Solaris 10. The file system was delayed, which affected the hardware's rollout. ZFS, however, has now been released to the Solaris Express program and will be in a Solaris update next year. Once it's ready to go, Thumper should follow.

Along with Thumper, Sun is also expected to roll out a new line of four-socket and eight-socket blade servers. Yep, you read that right. Eight-sockets. We'll have more on Sun's upcoming blade line soon.

Overall, we're starting to get a sense of how serious Sun is about Opteron. It already sells four lower-end systems and will add an eight-socket box early next year. In addition, it has a pure storage system code-named Honeycomb that runs on Opteron as well. ®

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