Sun Spawns Galaxy

Launches servers built with AMD's new 2.4GHz dual-core Opteron chip and hints at future plans for more Galaxy devices

September 12, 2005

2 Min Read
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Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) today unveiled the first servers in its new line of Galaxy” machines, built around the latest dual-core Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD). Sun has also launched a low-cost, stripped-down, version of its enterprise servers targeted at the lucrative high-performance computing space.

A number of organizations, particularly in areas such as education and the government sector, are eschewing expensive supercomputers in favor of clusters built of standard, low-cost, servers (see Sandia Blasts Off Blade Cluster and Luebeck Looks to Clusters).

With the launch of its new one-rack-unit-high Sun Fire X2100 server today, Sun is looking to tap into this demand and claw market share from rival vendors like Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL). (See Statoil Builds Dell Cluster.)

Clearly, Sun is wielding price as a cudgel in an attempt to win this battle. The X2100, which has an entry level price of $745, significantly undercuts Sun’s existing offering in this part of the market, the Sun Fire V20z, which starts at $2,195.

Dell was unavailable for comment on the announcement.The stakes are high for Sun, which has recently undergone some tough quarters thanks to stiff competition from its server rivals (see Sun Reports Q4, FY05 and Is Sun Setting?). Sun execs are now putting the X2100 up against Dell’s Intel processor-powered PowerEdge 850 server, which has a starting price of $989.

David Lawler, director of Sun’s Network Systems Group, told NDCF that a stripped-down server such as the X2100 could be ideal for the heavy duty, yet repetitive, number crunching needed in areas such as design, or even the financial sector. “This is the type of box that you might buy for that because you need a number of devices doing the same thing,” he says. “They don’t need to be general purpose devices.”

The Sun Fire X2100 comes with two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a single dual-core Opteron processor. Both the one-rack-unit-high X4100 and the two-RU X4200, however, come with four Gigabit Ethernet ports and up to two dual-core Opterons.

The X4100 and X4200 also come with a range of redundancy features, such as additional fans and power supplies. The higher-end boxes also offer AMD’s new 2.4GHz Opteron dual-core chip, whereas the 2100 uses earlier versions of the technology. Dual-core processors, which are also offered by Intel, essentially combine two processors on a single chip with the aim of improved performance and reduced power consumption.

Lawler confirmed to NDCF that Sun plans to add more servers to its Galaxy line during the coming months. Although he was unwilling to divulge specific details, the exec says that a high-end, eight-processor machine will be launched in the first half of 2006, and a four-processor box may also be in the cards. “We’re in the process of building out the entire family,” he says.— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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