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Could hybrid devices spell the death knell for traditional storage servers? After slashing its storage costs by replacing EMC Clariions with Sun's X4500 "Thumper" devices, hosting specialist Joyent thinks so.

Earlier this year, Sun unveiled the X4500, code-named 'Thumper,' which it claims is the first in a series of hybrid server/storage devices. (See Sun Thumps Storage-Server Hybrid.) The vendor bills the X4500 as a "data server" or "data analysis server," aimed at customers looking to save on equipment costs for data warehousing or high-performance computing solutions.

The Tokyo Institute of Technology (Titech), for example, has deployed 42 X4500s linked by 10-Gbit/s InfiniBand as part of its TSUBAME supercomputer installation.

Last month, Marin County, Calif.-based Joyent deployed five X4500s running the Solaris operating system to support its hosted storage services. Four of the devices, totaling around 80 Tbytes, were rolled out to support Bingodisk, a new offering aimed at enterprise users. Another X4500, with 20 Tbytes of storage, was allocated to Strongspace, an existing service targeted at individual end-users.

Previously, Strongspace was run on two EMC Clariions supported by Dell servers, although David Young, Joyent's CEO, told Byte and Switch that the cost savings offered by the X4500 were too compelling to ignore. "With the introduction of Thumper, the cost per Gbyte has dropped so dramatically that there is no reason for us to run [Strongspace] on EMC storage," he says.

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