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Sun saunters into open storage formation

JBOD army arrives with Thumper 2

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Sun Microsystems is trying to inject some much needed vim and vigor into its storage business by dosing the operation with extra cc's of open-source therapy.

The vendor today is introducing three new "Open Storage" arrays to its catalogue and giving its storage-heavy X4500 server — Thumper — a hardware refresh.

Its new arrays are the first to ditch the StorageTek brand in favor of the new (although perhaps not stunningly inventive) namesake: "Sun Storage." Future storage gear will be penciled in to fit the nomenclature, although the company doesn't seem quite ready to kill the StorageTek brand just yet, according to Storage Product Management manager, Ray Austin.

The new Sun Storage J4000 arrays are being pitched in much the same way as previous "Open Editions" of the StorageTek lineup. We're talking industry standard hardware and open-source software, so the box can be plugged into servers purchased by a wide variety of vendors.

The lightweight offering is the Sun Storage J4200, with up to 12 drives per tray and a maximum of 46 SAS or SATA drives.

A step up is the J4400 array, with up to four drives per tray, up to six SAS ports, and a maximum of 192 SAS or SATA drives.

The big kit is the J4500, a four rack unit with 48 drives per tray, up to four SAS ports and a maximum of 480 SATA drives.

Austin describes the arrays as essentially JBODs (just a bunch of disks), but with frills such as connections to more than one server and room for additional expansions.

Sun Storage J4000 arrays begin at $3,000 and are presently available. Sun is also putting out a SAS RAID host bus adapter that allows J4000 systems to connect directly to servers running Solaris, Linux and Windows.

Thumper gets bumped

The Sun Fire X4500, AKA Thumper, is being replaced by a more sprightly descendant, the new Sun Fire 4540. The storage/server hybrid is now armed with a quad-core processor (an upgrade from Thumper's dual-core chip) and twice the memory for good measure at 32GB.

Features new to the system include using PCIe in favor of PCI-X and an ability to boot the OS from the hard disk or a compact flash device.

The Sun Fire 4540 is also available starting at $22,000.

In step with Sun's recent love note to Flash memory technology, Austin said all the new products are designed to accommodate solid-state storage. Not yet though — as there's reference designs, qualifications, and briefs to scribble out before they'll let SSDs get crammed inside. Said cramming will be sanctified and blessed later this year, according to Sun. ®

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