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Sun's 'white trash' server trailers impress

While Opteron and virtualization sell

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With a well revamped server line behind it, Sun Microsystems has reached a point of contentment. You can tell that Sun is happy with itself because the company has started flinging lots of far out concept gear. The best and most recent example being the White Trash Data Centers announced earlier this week.

Those buying the White Trash systems will receive a trailer full of servers, storage and networking gear, along with some fancy cooling add-ons. Officially, Sun sells the kit in a shipping container, but we prefer to think of it as a data center box that you'd find on the Cops TV show.

Will customers go for the kit? Well, one of the leading server experts around – blade server pioneer and RLX founder Chris Hipp – thinks Sun has a shot with the White Trash flash. The obvious customers in the financial services, oil and gas and very, very big enterprise markets will consider the systems no matter how weird they seem to be, according to Hipp.

Way back in 2000, Hipp emphasized that server vendors should place more emphasis on cooling and space conservation, which is, in part, why RLX opted for Transmeta-based servers.

"Sun's solution looks much easier and cheaper to me than building out more data center space that requires specialized cooling and the like," Hipp said. "I can also see organizations that need temporary compute capacity being interested. What could be easier than parking a big white dumpster in the company parking lot, cabling it up, and going to town? And what about dropping one of these boxy bad boys on a ship, or an oil rig?"

What's clear from all this is that server administrators will need to wear wife-beaters as their new uniform.

Away from the concept gear, Sun this week refreshed its core Opteorn-based server line. It has popped AMD's latest Rev F chippies into the X4100, X4200 and X4600 servers. These boxes join the X2100 and X2200 systems that Sun started shipping in August with the flashy Opterons.

Elsewhere in Sun's server kingdom, the company updated its virtualization plans.

Sun has long preferred hardware-base partitions to logical partitions, but that stance is changing with the introduction of LDOMs on Sun's T1000 and T2000 Sun Fire servers.

Customers that pick up the 11/06 update to Solaris 10 can turn to new hardware being shipped in January or a firmware update in order to get LDOMs working on their UltraSPARC T1-based servers. Sun will support up to 32 operating systems per server with the virtualization technology. The LDOMs sit in between Sun's less flexible hardware partitions on SPARC systems and Solaris Containers, which spread one instance of the OS across many partitions.

Sun also confirmed that it will ship a Xen hypervisor for Solaris next year. Might as well do a wife-beater with that too. ®

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