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Sun puts Xeon, Sparc T2+ chips in Netra rack servers

Maybe calling on telcos and service providers ain't such a bad idea

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The Netra X4550 has 32 FB-DIMM memory slots, supporting a maximum of 128 GB today with double that coming soon with 8 GB DIMMs. The server has four Gigabit Ethernet ports on the board, plus two PCI-X slots and eight PCI-Express slots (one is eaten up by the SAS host bus adapter again). The Netra X4450 chassis has room for a dozen small form factor SAS drives.

In a base configuration with two E7338 processors running at 2.4 GHz, 8 GB of memory, and two 146 GB disks, the Netra X4450 costs $14,995. Putting in the maximum four processors (for a total of 16 cores), boosting memory to 32 GB, and slapping in four SAS drives jumps the price up to $25,395.

These two Xeon-based Netra boxes are certified to run Sun's own Solaris 10 Unix as well as Red Hat's Enterprise Linux, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Microsoft's Windows Server 2003.

The final Netra box is based on Sun's own "Victoria Falls" Sparc T2+ processor, the first chip in the "Niagara" family of multicore Sparc chips that implements symmetric multiprocessing, which was shipped in regular Sun servers, code-named "Maramba," back in April.

The Netra T5440 is a two-socket, 4U server that has two of Sun's 1.2 GHz Sparc T2+ processors with either six or eight cores with eight threads each, for a total of 96 or 128 threads per box. The server has 32 FB-DIMM memory slots, and supports a maximum of 128 GB today, with double that coming shortly.

The system board in the Netra T5440 has four Gigabit Ethernet ports, two PCI-X slots, and eight PCI-Express slots. Solaris 10 Update 08/07 and later releases are supported on the machine.

With two six-core 1.2 GHz Sparc T2+ chips, 16 GB of memory, and two 146 GB disks, the Netra T5440 costs $19,635 - within spitting distance of the larger Intel NEBS-certified box announced above, and intentionally so. Moving up to an eight-core variant of the server and doubling memory to 32 GB while putting in four disks pumps the price up to $34,655.

Assuming that the Sparc T2+ box can do roughly the same work as the Tigerton box above on running Solaris applications created by telcos and SPs, if Sun can get the sale that's an extra $9,260 in revenue to Sun. Who knows how the profits work out, but presumably a bit of that drops to the bottom line.

All three Netra servers are available from today.

One last thing - for many years, Sun has sold its own low-level, high availability clustering software for the Netra product line, aimed specifically at telco applications and distinct from the Sun Cluster software that is used for back office database clustering.

While this Netra HA Suite code is still available for Sparc and x64 Netra machines, Butler says that Sun is working through the Service Availability Forum, a telco standards body, and third party software makers such as GoAhead and OpenClovis to get its Netra customers standards-compliant HA clustering. Sun has had to reckon its budgets, and Netra HA, while still available, is not being actively developed. ®

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