By Galaxy, Sun's new x86 servers are here!
Today was Sun's 3rd Network Computing event this year (NC05Q3), and for me this one was the most interesting this year. Today was the day when the first of the long-awaited, AMD-powered "Galaxy" servers were officially announced.
What makes the boxes so interesting is that unlike previous Sun x86 products, these servers are designed in-house. Three servers were announced today: the entry level Sun Fire X2100 (whose base configuration is less than $750 US), and the more up market Sun Fire X4100 and X4200. The X2100 is a dual-core ready single-socket machine, and seems to be related to the Ultra 20 workstation. The X4100 and X4200, on the other hand, are dual-core ready twin dual-socket machines. This is just speculation on my part, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see workstation products related to these to servers in the not-too-distant future.
The X400 are apparently setting the standard for Sun's next generation of servers: the cases, for example, will be shared with Niagara-based servers. This is a good move on Sun's part as they will be able to leverage economies of scale to keep costs low. (Jeez, I can't believe I just typed "leverage economies of scale"; I sound like a fscking manager!) Anyways, these machines are also Sun's first machines to use 2.5" SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) drives. The smaller form factor enhances the airflow for better cooling. It also has the added bonus of allowing Sun to offer models with four hot-swappable drives in a 1U chassis (although in this configuration a DVD/CD drive can't be fitted).
Also standard with the X400 servers is ILOM (Integrated Lights Out Management) for true lights-out operation. That's in addition to the 16GB memory capacity, dual hot-swappable PSUs, hot-swappable fans, two 64-bit PCI-X slots, and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. Like all of Sun's x86 products, these servers offer a choice of Solaris, RedHat or SuSE Linux, or Windoze (although quite why one would cripple such great machines by using the latter is beyond me...); Solaris is, of course, preloaded on all of these systems.
As I mentioned in a recent blog, I am currently looking for a 1U or 2U server to replace a pair of Ultra 1s. And I have to admit, I'm tempted--very tempted. About the only thing preventing me from making a decision right now is I want to see what the first Niagara-based servers brings us...