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At last, Sun unveils UltraSPARC revival

Erie and Ontario refreshed by Niagara

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Sun Microsystems has decided to admit that it does sell the Sun Fire T2000 and T1000 servers, ending months of denials.

El Reg first uncovered these systems back in September. Both boxes run on Sun's new eight-core UltraSPARC T1 - aka Niagara - processor and are aimed at handling web and application server software. The T2000 is a bulkier 2U box with plenty of networking and storage options, while the T1000 takes up just 1U of rack space.

For months, Sun refused to comment on our stories even though plenty of information on the new systems could be found in Solaris source code and via configuration information that slipped on the company's web site. During a Tuesday launch event in New York, Sun will end its vow of silence and flash the kit in front of Wall Street.

Sun has placed a large bet on these systems, as they're the first UltraSPARC-based gear in a long time to really stand out from the competition. Sun will offer the systems with both 1.0GHz and 1.2GHz chips in 4, 6 and 8 core versions.

The low-power consumption of the boxes coupled with the multicore chips should help customers save on energy costs while improving server density. You'll end up with hundreds of cores per rack.

To be sure, the systems won't perform well on all types of software workloads. For example, the UltraSPARC T1 only has one floating point unit, which hurts its performance on a lot of higher-end applications.

Sun, however, claims the new Sun Fire systems fly when crunching through web and application serving workloads. To back up these claims, Sun has released a number of new benchmark results that place its boxes well ahead of Xeon-based systems from IBM, HP and Dell. Sun has pointed to eBay, EDS and Air France as customers who have already purchased the new gear.

"The new server line is anticipated to save these enterprises an average of $371,000 in power and cooling costs for 100 servers in just three years," Sun said.

As we wrote before, the Sun Fire T2000 is available immediately at a starting price of $7,795. The T1000 ships in March at a starting price of $3,000.

These boxes have been a long time coming. Sun completed its acquisition of Afara Websystems, which did the original Niagara chip design, in July of 2002.

The boxes are sure to garner Sun a lot of attention in the short term. Given Sun's experience with mulithreaded software and the Solaris OS, you can bet that threaded workloads will indeed cruise on the new gear.

It's good to see Sun's heavy R&D investment pay off with something that is truly unique. None of Sun's Tier 1 processor or server rivals have discussed hardware that looks anything like these new boxes. We anxiously await customer feedback on the new systems to see if they're all that Sun expects. ®

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